7 Smarter - AKA "Greenest" - Cities in California

Seven municipalities in California - none of them in the San Joaquin Valley, where summer temperatures run into triple digits and residential power bills can reach four digits - have some of the best energy polices in the country, according to a recent ranking.

The Natural Resources Defense Council calls them "smarter" cities because they invested n green power, energy efficiency and conservation. Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Santa Clarita, all in the Golden State of California, made the list.

Here's why they did:

  • Long Beach: instituted first greenhouse gas emissions inventory in 2009 and founding member of The Climate Registry, an organization working toward greenhouse gas reduction and climate reporting;

  • Huntington Beach: Lots of green power, low per-capita energy consumption and policies to encourage energy generation;

  • Santa Clarita: Cutting usage of electricity by 1 million kilowatts and natural gas therms by 9,000 for a total savings of more than one million pounds of pollutants per year;

  • Oakland: Creation of Green Jobs Corps, which trains low-income residents in solar installation, energy-efficiency retrofits and green building;

  • San Francisco: Exploring the use of a wave farm;

  • Berkeley: Financing solar installation through a Sustainable Energy Funding District;

  • Santa Cruz: A green building program and Climate Action Teams, where groups of friends and neighbors calculate carbon dioxide missions of their actions.

All these cities should be commended for their efforts, but my favorite is Reno, a popular gambling resort in Nevada, not far from the border. It is more than 2,000 lights in its trademark 'Biggest Little City" arch with the LED variety and installed wind turbines atop City Hall.

I sure would like to city a San Joaquin Valley city on that list in the next few years.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.

(Photo of Reno City Hall)