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SLO County garners national recognition for surpassing its renewable energy goal

The County of San Luis Obispo launched its new solar energy project at the County Operations Center on April 20, 2021.
Courtesy of Annie Secrest.
The County of San Luis Obispo launched its new solar energy project at the County Operations Center on April 20, 2021.

San Luis Obispo County received national acclaim for surpassing its 20% renewable energy goal.

This week, the County’s Public Works Department announced on Twitter that 24% of its total municipal electricity was generated from clean energy sources.

The region is now recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency for its sustainability efforts through the Green Power Partnership program. This initiative, which the County joined voluntarily, aims to cut carbon emissions in communities.

Annie Secrest, who oversees energy and water for County Public Works, credited the County’s success to three significant solar projects.

“Often folks think that green power is expensive and unattainable, but for our organization, it's been really attainable,” Secrest said. “It's helped our organization stabilize rising energy costs while lowering our emission footprints.”

The largest project was the installation of a ground-mounted solar field at the County Operations Center in San Luis Obispo in 2021.This is expected to reduce carbon emissions equal to taking nearly 400 gas-powered vehicles off the roads each year.

Before this project, the County also built two solar canopy projects at the Dairy Creek Golf Course between SLO and Morro Bay in 2020.

Over the next 20 years, these three solar projects are expected to offset 74 million pounds of CO2 and save the County $6 million, according to Forefront Power, the solar company overseeing the projects.

“It’s allowed us to focus on reinvesting those dollars in other County services,” Secrest said.

To retain its EPA recognition for renewable energy efforts, Secrest mentioned that SLO County will keep investing in energy-saving projects such as smart thermostats and LED lighting.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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