As population growth and rising fuel prices drive up the cost of energy, there is a rising need to incorporate alternative energy sources into cities' energy supplies. The City of Long Beach recognizes this and is taking several steps to ensure that its citizens have sustainable sources of energy by investing in both renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
In 2007 the residents and businesses of Long Beach used over 2.9 billon kilowatt hours of electricity! This can be reduced by individual actions like turning off the lights when you leave a room and by using your air conditioner less. Reducing energy use not only prevents pollution but also saves money, all by making small daily changes.
Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are environmentally friendly because they cannot be depleted and do not pollute like fossil fuels. A key aspect to the City's move toward cleaner energy has been the implementation of solar-power technology. In 2006, the Long Beach Convention Center installed a 750-kilowatt, 5,819 panel Photovoltaic Solar System. The System is one of the largest public-facility solar installation on the West Coast and generates over 1 million Kilowatt-hours of pollution-free electricity. To date, the System has eliminated the pollution an average car emits over 54,475 days, 1,492,059 lbs of CO2, 445 lbs of NOx, has produced enough energy to power 23,942 homes for a day, and positively affects environmental equality having less impact on surrounding neighborhoods.
Along with the Convention Center, the Long Beach Airport is also making use of solar technology with 6 new solar trees that track the movement of the sun to produce electricity. Considered to be one of the most advanced solar systems in the region, the light-collecting system is expected to create 15,000 kilowatt hours annually, save at least $5,000 a year and offset nearly a half-million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over the system's 25-year lifespan - which is equal to planting three acres of trees!
In addition to alternative energy, it is important to transition to the cleaner energy sources when available. This means moving from diesel and gasoline-powered equipment to electric. For example, the Airport recently installed five Dual Port SuperCharge stations that will be used to recharge a fleet of electric baggage tractors and belt loaders that service JetBlue and US Airways. With the ability to charge up to 40 electric ground support vehicles, the SuperCharge installation will enable the airport to transition its ground support equipment from gasoline and diesel powered equipment to pure electric powered systems. Use of electric ground support equipment can reduce annual fueling costs by 70 to 80% and reduce total operating costs by 30 to 40% when compared with gasoline or diesel fuel.
In addition to the implementation of solar technology, the City of Long Beach is also focused on implementing initiatives and programs that will address all aspects of sustainability. For example, to conserve energy during peak periods the City has partnered with Southern California Edison and enrolled City Hall and the Convention Center in Demand Response programs. These programs, reduce the City's energy usage during peak hours and help protect against service interruptions. The City has also undertaken or is planning a number of other initiatives that will complement the program and create a citywide approach to energy efficiency and conservation. This includes development of the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Program, facility audits and retrofits, and green building policies for public and private development.
Clean energy and energy efficiency means not only reducing our energy needs, but also saving money, improving public health, and protecting the environment.