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Energy and Climate Change

Regional Energy and Climate Strategies

The Regional Energy Strategy and Climate Action Strategy serve as policy guides for addressing energy and climate change within the Regional Transportation Plan and Regional Comprehensive Plan. The adopted strategies guide the overall Energy and Climate Change Planning program at SANDAG and help prioritize activities at the Regional Energy Working Group.

Regional Energy Strategy

The Regional Energy Strategy (RES) serves as the energy policy blueprint for our region through 2050. It established long term goals in eleven topic areas including energy efficiency, renewable energy, distributed generation, transportation fuels, land use and transportation planning, border energy issues, and the green economy. Using the strategies guiding principles, and taking into consideration the myriad of policy measures recommended across the energy topics, six early actions were identified for SANDAG and local governments to focus on in the near term.

In 2014, a technical update of the RES was completed in order to inform development of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan. This technical update demonstrates progress toward attaining the RES goals, updates existing conditions and future projections data, and recommends priorities for moving forward. The updated RES is available below. Concurrent with the update, summary reports were prepared for each of the RES goals. These summary reports also are available below.

Priority Early Actions of the Regional Energy Strategy

1. Pursue a comprehensive building retrofit program to improve efficiency and install renewable energy systems
2. Create financing programs to pay for projects and improvements that save energy
3. Utilize the SANDAG-SDG&E Local Government Partnership to help local governments identify opportunities and implement energy savings at government facilities and throughout their communities
4. Support land use and transportation planning strategies that reduce energy use and GHG emissions
5. Support planning of electric charging and alternative fueling infrastructure
6. Support use of existing unused reclaimed water to decrease the amount of energy needed to meet the water needs of the San Diego region

Climate Action Strategy

The Climate Action Strategy is a guide for SANDAG on climate change policy. The Strategy identifies a range of potential policy measures – “tools in the toolbox” – for consideration as SANDAG updates long-term planning documents like the Regional Transportation Plan and Regional Comprehensive Plan, and as local jurisdictions update their general plans and other community plans.

The Strategy helps SANDAG identify land use, transportation, and related policy measures and investments that could reduce GHG emissions from passenger cars and light-duty trucks as part of the development of a Sustainable Communities Strategy for the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan in compliance with Senate Bill 375. Potential policy measures also are identified for buildings and energy use, protecting transportation and energy infrastructure from climate impacts, and to help SANDAG and local jurisdictions reduce GHG emissions from their operations.

On-road transportation of people and goods is the single largest source of GHG emissions in the San Diego region, with passenger cars and light-duty trucks alone responsible for about 41 percent of all greenhouse gases. Future transportation-related GHG emissions need to be substantially lower than they are today. However, the adopted local land use plans and transportation investments and policies identified in the adopted Regional Transportation Plan would collectively lead to higher, not lower, GHG emissions.

Many of the region’s existing policies and investments contribute to lower GHG emissions. Actions like encouraging local smart growth land uses linked with regional transportation plans and habitat protection programs, investing in mobility options like public transit, bicycling, carpooling, and vanpooling, creating districts to finance energy efficiency and clean energy projects, and installing renewable energy systems, the region has created a foundation on which it can building to address climate change now and going forward in the coming years and decades.

Development of the Energy and Climate Strategies

The San Diego region has a history of developing energy plans going back to 1979, with updates occurring through the 1980s, 1990s, and in 2003.  SANDAG undertook an update of the adopted 2003 energy strategy in response to increasing scientific and policy focus on global climate change and in light of the significant policy changes and implementation programs affecting the electricity, natural gas, and transportation sectors.  As the new energy strategy outline developed, SANDAG decided to undertake a stand-alone climate strategy concurrently.

Recognizing that state agencies have significant authority over electricity and natural gas end-uses (e.g., space and water heating), both the Regional Energy Strategy and Climate Action Strategy focus on opportunities and authorities that SANDAG and its member agencies could take advantage of to address energy and climate issues through their authorities in areas such as land use planning, transportation planning and funding, and the building entitlement process. Although the Strategy does not make recommendations for specific energy projects (e.g., power plants or transmission projects), it does assess regional need for energy resources and infrastructure. The Strategy also does not replace the long-term electricity plan that SDG&E develops for the California Public Utilities Commission, but it can inform utility decision-making.

Project Manager

Andrew Martin, Senior Regional Energy/Climate Planner
Phone: (619) 595-5375, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or