Residents dislike home efficiency program

April 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Berkeley is taking some heat over a plan to fight global warming. People are upset about a proposal to save energy that could force homeowners to spend a lot of money. The Berkeley City Council took up the issue late Tuesday night.

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Three years ago, Berkeley overwhelming passed a measure calling for an 80-percent reduction in their greenhouse gasses and a plan to achieve it. However, now a lot of residents aren't happy with it.

With single pain windows and energy gobbling appliances, Lorraine Rollin's home is a model of energy inefficiency. The city of Berkeley would like her, and the rest of the city, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-percent by the year 2050.

"So what do you think about that?" asked ABC7's Alan Wang.
"That's great, if you have some money," said Rollins.

Still, the city says it would offer low-interest financing to upgrade windows, home insulation, appliances and heating systems.

"Some research that we have done show that with a $5,000 to $10,000 investment in a Berkeley home, you could reduce energy consumption to 35 to 45-percent," says Timothy Burroughs, the Berkeley Climate Action Coordinator.

"I've been an advocate for green building practices for many years. Sometimes I've been frustrated with people not being receptive to it, but all of a sudden, I feel like I'm getting it shoved down my throat," says Christopher Robin Byers, a Berkeley resident.

Language in the city's Climate Action Plan that says "all residential units must adhere to the standard" is stirring up a hornet's nest. But Climate Action Plan Coordinator Timothy Burroughs calls the implementation strategy a future option.

"If a mandatory requirement would ever to be implemented, it would be backed up by incentives, rebates, and lots of assistance," says Burroughs.

Others say there was a lack of community input and no oversight committee.

"I'm on the Garbage and Recycling Commission in Berkeley and our commission wasn't affectively integrated into this plan," said Asa Dodsworth, a Berkeley resident.

The recession isn't helping pull out much support for it either. Tuesday night 60 residents showed up to give the council feedback. Tuesday's vote will not be a final vote, but it will help put the wheels in motion to get this process started.

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