Hailey Mayor Martha Burke presented plans on Monday to establish a wide range of ideas and policies to combat climate change.

“This is a moral issue,” Burke said, during the first City Council meeting of her first term as mayor.

County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg announced at the meeting that the county would create an office of sustainability to address similar concerns “across jurisdictions.”

Burke’s Resiliency Initiative, formulated in consultation with Hailey Resiliency Coordinator Rebecca Bundy and Community Development Director Lisa Horowitz, would implement policies to require “resiliency consideration” in all city decision-making processes and possibly enact progressive new codes that move the entire community toward the yet-to-be adopted resiliency goals.

Resiliency refers to the reduction of nonrenewable energy sources, water use and greenhouse gas emissions, increased building durability and other interrelated factors that can make a community more resilient in the face of climate change. Floods and wildfires have been partly attributed to climate change in the Wood River Valley and elsewhere.

The initiative will require the consideration of environmental sustainability in purchasing, personnel policy, code implementation and review, and city operations.

“Two questions we will ask about each potential change will be can we afford it and when will be the payback,” Burke said.

In an interview, Bundy said the city could decide whether to buy a new electric vehicle rather than one that runs on fossil fuels.

“One of the barriers to electric vehicle use in a community is access to recharging infrastructure,” Bundy said. “Ketchum installed a level 2 mid-speed charger—not super slow and not a fast super-charger charging station—in about 2016 with assistance from Idaho Power. Hailey will be investigating its options.”

The initiative aims to set goals that would achieve carbon neutrality (producing no additional carbon emissions) along with energy, water and waste efficiencies, in the municipal government and the community at large. These would build on earlier successful projects, such as the city’s previous “15x15” plan to reduce municipal facilities greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent from 2005 to 2015.

By 2011, Bundy said the 15x15 plan had succeeded in reducing municipal emissions by 48 percent and reduced energy use by 16 percent. However, the main reason for the greater reduction was due to Idaho Power’s emission factors.

“Basically, their electricity generation became cleaner over that same period of time,” Bundy said.

Bundy said resiliency objectives could be based on a those recently adopted by Park City, Utah, to achieve net zero carbon and 100 percent renewable energy for the municipality and the community at large, by a yet-to-be-determined date.

“The exact goals and action steps to achieve them are yet to be finalized,” she said. “Idaho Power’s plan to generate 100 percent clean energy by 2045 may have a substantial impact on the path forward.”

The city is completing free Idaho Office of Energy and Mineral Resources facility energy audits. The city hopes to implement energy efficiency upgrades with grant assistance from that office.

“Armed with the information from the audits, the city will decide whether to invest, with the help of the grants and Idaho Power incentives, in energy upgrades, be they lighting, heating system, appliance, etc.,” Bundy said.

All related city code changes would be subject to public process and City Council review, she said.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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