City Council approves loan from East Bay Community Energy to enable full electrification of pool

A rendering of the new pool

In keeping with Piedmont’s climate goals, and with a pledge to the community for the cleanest possible project, the City Council on Monday approved taking out a $750,000, no-interest loan from East Bay Community Energy to finance equipment to pay for full electrification of the Piedmont Community Pool Project.

Fully electrifying the pool project will help the city meet its Climate Action Plan greenhouse gas emission goals adopted in 2018. The Action Plan calls for a significant reduction of natural gas use in all homes and buildings in the city. The city’s old pool, which closed in March 2020 after 56 years, had been the single largest CO2 emissions emitter by far among city-owned facilities.

The cost of equipping the pool for electric heating of the water alone is expected to be approximately $500,000, for heat pump chillers, four heat exchangers and HVAC-related hardware. The cost of electrification had been built into the nearly $29 million cost of the pool, which has been funded by the $19.5 million Measure UU approved by Piedmont voters in 2020, and by an aggressive community fundraising campaign led by the Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization.

In April, the council decided the pool would be completely powered by electricity. That was considered a forward-looking choice, as most community pools are heated using natural gas. Mountain View has the only other such pool in the Bay Area, and possibly the state.

Electric power was somewhat of a risky choice, as it is more expensive to install that conventional gas equipment, and in April, there was no extra funding identified. 

“This fulfills a commitment to taxpayers for a clean-energy project, even when we weren’t sure how we were going to make it happen,” Mayor Jen Cavenaugh said. Vice Mayor Betsy Smegal Anderson called this a “huge win for the city,” adding that she hopes this pool heating project will serve as an example for other cities and groups looking to build or replace a large pool. 

The pool electrification project is the latest move by the city to reduce its carbon footprint. EBCE has been a big part of that, allowing the city to go with 100 percent renewable energy. Several current and former Piedmont council members have served on the board of EBCE, which was formed in 2018. 

Indira Balkissoon praised Monday night’s council’s move to electrify pool heating. “I knew that was a real leap of faith with the kind of power no one has done, except for Mountain View,” she told the council.

Alex DiGiorgio, EBCE’s public engagement manager, told the council, “This is just another example of the way Piedmont is leading us into a brighter future.”   

The city’s monthly payment toward repaying this loan will be $4,167.

“At zero percent, is there any way we can borrow more?” Andersen said.

Grant for frontline police services

The council formally accepted a $100,000 2023/24 California Citizens Option for Public Safety (COPS) grant Monday night, designed to pay for “purchase items or services supporting frontline law enforcement services.”

On Monday, the council was shown how that money – combined with $504,527 from previous COPS grants in previous years – will be used to relocate the police department’s dispatch center, add a second dispatcher, add more Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) and public safety cameras in Piedmont, and pay for a police staffing study.

Police Chief Jeremy Bowers said, “Construction plans are being finalized as I speak.”

Sheriff’s Department agreement

Also on Monday night, the council voted unanimously to extend an agreement for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office to investigate officer-involved shootings involving Piedmont Police Department officers and any and in-custody deaths involving Piedmont police, through December 2024.

It is commonplace for law enforcement agencies to have agreements with outside police agencies to investigate such incidents.

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