City Open Houses Will Gauge Public Response to Clean Energy Plan 

In a bid to strengthen its position on reducing energy consumption and converting to clean energy, the City of Boise is testing the waters of public opinion through a series of open houses geared at making those issues personal for every citizen.

"We really want to get the word out there, we want to educate residents about what we're doing and also get their feedback," said Colin Hickman, communications manager for the city's Department of Public Works.

The city has taken steps toward boosting its utilization of clean energy in the past, but Boise Mayor Dave Bieter turned up the heat in September when he announced that city facilities and operations will be powered with 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. Bieter's declaration helped spur Boise's Energy Future, an initiative that delved deep into the city's energy consumption and will eventually produce a set of clean energy goals for the city's entire population, making energy a kitchen table issue.

"We want the public to understand that the mayor has signed on to several climate change agreements in the past," explained city Public Works Director Steve Burgos. "Part of that is, in those agreements there are actions that we're committing to. So there's certainly a kind of climate change/environmental side to the process, but also there are economic development opportunities. We're hearing more and more from companies that want access to renewable energy."

While the December open houses won't reveal a final plan, Hickman said they will provide a "temperature check" of support and let residents weigh in on key values like affordability, reliability and environmental impacts through surveys (which will also be mailed and emailed to residents) and group discussion. Public Works will also offer an estimated timeline and cost for the program. Four open houses are slated for the next few weeks, including one that will take place over Facebook Live for those unable to attend in person. If you'd like to join the conversation, mark these dates on your calendar:

Tuesday, Dec. 4: 6-8 p.m., Library at Hillcrest, 5246 W. Overland Road

Saturday, Dec. 8: 10 a.m.-noon, Boise City Hall Lobby, 150 N. Capitol Blvd.

Monday, Dec. 10: Noon-1 p.m., Facebook Live

Thursday, Dec. 13: 6-8 p.m., Library! at Bown Crossing, 2153 E. Riverwalk Drive

Public Works hopes to submit a completed community-wide clean energy plan to Boise City Council for approval by spring of 2019.

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