Alameda County supervisors have created a new joint powers authority to tap into a $42 million program that promises to shower the Bay Area with sustainable energy projects and training.

So far, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Hayward, Oakland, Piedmont, San Leandro and Union City, as well as Alameda County, have signed on to the Energy Council, as the new JPA is called. They will pursue sustainable energy grants, including $42 million available through the Bay Area Regional Energy Network.

Coordinating the efforts and money for the council will be StopWaste, which a 2011 Alameda County grand jury criticized for high personnel costs and mission creep. The grand jury said the organization, made up of the Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling and Alameda County Waste Management Authority boards, should be reduced in size because it has fulfilled its mandate to reduce refuse going into the county's landfills.

A 2012 grand jury called on the county to exercise stricter oversight of its numerous joint powers authorities.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Richard Valle, co-founder of Tri-CED Community Recycling in Union City, echoed the 2011 report. ¿StopWaste has done a "phenomenal" job fulfilling its mission to reduce garbage in landfills, he said, before voting to approve the creation of the JPA during the regular supervisors' meeting. But, he added, "it's quite a bureaucracy and is about to get bigger."

StopWaste has no plans to hire additional staff but could in the future depending on the grant, program manager Wendy Sommer said.

A representative from each jurisdiction will sit on the Energy Council JPA, which will meet monthly at the downtown Oakland StopWaste headquarters. Meeting notices will be issued by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority.

Decisions will be made by majority vote. Oakland has three votes; Hayward, Fremont and Alameda County each have two. The other members will each have one vote.

It might not be the ideal governance structure, Alameda County Community Development Agency Director Chris Bazaar said, "but it's worth taking advantage of the opportunity."

ENERGY COUNCIL JPA
Details about the Energy Council and BayReEN are available at http://bit.ly/15Vkryd.
The 2011 and 2012 grand jury reports are available at www.acgov.org/grandjury.