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Woodside joins clean-energy collective

Town Council also adopts landscaping ordinance aimed at reducing water use

Woodside is now part of a county clean energy program aimed at giving electric energy users options to PG&E. Those options may give users more energy from renewable sources.

The Town Council voted 4-0 Tuesday night to join the program, with Mayor Deborah Gordon and Councilmen Peter Mason and Chris Shaw absent.

In other action, the council adopted an ordinance that applies to new landscaping projects and is aimed at reducing water use.

Electricity sources

The council's action on alternative sources for electricity inducts Woodside and its residents into a collective that would purchase electricity on the open market, but with a preference for renewable sources in the expectation that it could reduce the town's greenhouse gas emissions footprint while not raising rates significantly for residents.

The initiative may also generate profits that could be reinvested, perhaps to reduce rates or invest in local electricity production.

By joining during the formation stage of this joint powers agreement, known as Peninsula Clean Energy, Woodside will have a seat on the governing board, Town Manager Kevin Bryant noted.

Membership is open to every city and town in San Mateo County, and the councils in Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto have already joined, Mr. Bryant said. The Portola Valley council is set to consider joining at its meeting tonight.

Irrigation efficiency

The council took the first step in a two-step process toward adopting an ordinance on water-efficient irrigation. The regulations will apply to significant new landscaping projects, including those associated with a building permit, a site development permit, and grading of more than 100 cubic yards, Planning Director Jackie Young said.

For a new landscaping project, the ordinance will require water-efficient irrigation -- the use of recycled water and captured rainwater, for example -- when the dimensions of the project exceed 500 square feet. The same rules would apply when the landscaping is not new, but does cover more than 2,500 square feet, and, like a new project, involves conditions such as permits or significant grading.

The ordinance would allow a lawn on a portion of the landscaping, but require the property owner to include a water budget that calculates the maximum water allowance and the estimated actual use -- a non-trivial task, town officials have said.

The ordinance will require pool covers for new swimming pools and spas.

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