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Council to Consider Joining County Energy Council

On the City Council agenda Monday is a recommendation for the city to join a new Alameda County "Energy Council," whose voting structure was opposed by the council in an earlier vote in January.

The Piedmont City Council on Monday will consider whether to join a new joint powers authority for Alameda County called the "Energy Council."

A staff report from Assistant Planner Kevin Jackson recommends that the city join the multi-agency group, even though it does not include Piedmont's request for a voting structure of one vote for each city.

The proposal for the new Energy Council comes from the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, also known as StopWaste.Org, a joint powers agency that is operated by the participating local governments and that guides joint policies on handling solid waste and hazardous materials. Its mandate includes reducing the waste stream through recycling programs and public education.

The Waste Management Authority decided that the local governments would have a better chance of winning grants for energy-related initiatives if they banded together to pool resources and meet minimum requirements for the size of population to be served. So its board voted to invite the county's 14 cities and the county government to join a separate joint powers authority to be called the Energy Council.

But the voting structure of the new entity proved to be controversial. 

The Waste Management Authority's board – made up of representatives of the cities and county – voted in September to give each city one vote on the new agency's board. Oakland, which was absent at the September meeting, objected.

So a weighted voting structure was proposed:

  • Oakland – 3 votes
  • Fremont – 2 votes
  • Hayward – 2 votes
  • County of Alameda – 2 votes
  • All other cities – 1 vote each

The Piedmont City Council voted in January against the weighted structure and asked Waste Management Authority to keep the one vote, one city formula. However, the authority board on Feb. 27 voted to adopt the weighted voting structure for the new Energy Council plan that is being presented to Piedmont Monday night.

At the same time, the authority also agreed to two other changes that Piedmont requested. One is shorten the notification period for withdrawing from the council from one year to six months. And the other is added liability protection for participating cities if the council suffers unforseen financial obligations.

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garrett Keating March 18, 2013 at 02:02 PM
A weighted voting structure is mostly the norm of the JPAs that Piedmont is a member of: transportation, solid waste and insurance: County Solid Waste JPA: Weighted: one vote per member, except: Oakland 3 votes & Alameda County 2 votes. County Transportation JPA: Weighted: Alameda Co. Supervisors – 1 vote each except AC Supervisor present w/longest service – 2 votes; Oakland has two members on Board, one with 3 votes and the other with 1 vote; Fremont and Hayward – 2 votes each; Other cities – 1 vote each; BART & AC Transit – 1 vote each County Insurance JPA: One vote per member entity. A majority of the Waste Management Authority always supported the weighted structure but a majority of the board needed to be present and vote on the JPA. When that majority convened, the vote in favor of the weighted structure was 14 to 3 in favor. I think gaining the participation of the larger cities in the JPA was the reason many smaller cities supported the weighted structure. Participation in the energy JPA is to Piedmont's benefit. Under weighted voting structures, Piedmont receives annual allocations from the Transportation and Solid Waste JPAs JPAs that fund many city improvements and programs. As the staff report notes, state and federal energy are being targeted for regional conservation solutions and Piedmont increases it chances of receiving those funds by joining the JPA.

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