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Professor: Less oil could affect life quality

Fluctuations in fuel prices

rising food prices and possible shortages

and less tourism money could be result, he says.

October 07, 2010|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com

Environmental issues dominated the Oct. 5 City Council Agenda.

Five of the 11 items heard in the regular order of business were directly related to improving or preserving the environment. Three others had peripheral effects.

"I don't want any of you 'greenies' to miss a minute of it," Councilwoman Verna Rollinger said.

Arthur Winer, professor of environmental health services at UCLA, briefed the council on the implications of the peak oil production for Laguna Beach. He also briefed San Diego Gas & Electric spokesman Duane Cave on smart electric meters that will be installed by the utility.

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Winer, speaking on behalf of the Environmental Committee, said oil production is starting to decline in the United States and in 90% of all other oil-producing countries.

The drop may threaten residents' quality of life, essential services and the tourist industry, which is an economic necessity for Laguna to thrive, Winer said.

"Like most other cities in California and the United States, Laguna Beach came of age and has flourished during an era of inexpensive and plentiful oil," Winer said. "Today, the city remains heavily dependent on oil-based fuels, despite nascent efforts to diversify into renewable energy resources."

Among the other important impacts reported by Winer:

•Fluctuations in fuel prices

•Rising food prices and possible shortages

•Declining city revenue if tourists become unwilling or unable to drive here

"Laguna Beach is lagging behind other communities in planning [for shortages]," Winer said. "The Environmental Committee will be studying and make recommendations for transitioning to less oil dependence.

Committee member Chris Prelitz said the city should consider sustainability when it comes to large expenditures.

SMART METERS

San Diego Gas & Electric, which provides gas and electricity to Laguna Beach residents south of Montage Resort & Spa, will be getting smart meters, starting in January.

"We will be replacing 100-year-old technology," Cave said.

Customers will no longer have to call in outages. The digital smart meters will alert headquarters of the problem and the extent of the problem; the meters will also inform residents about their day-to-day use.

And no more meter readers will be going out to customers' homes, except to install the updated equipment, Cave said.

Customers will be notified 30 days before the installation.

For more information, contact Cave at dcave@semprautilities.com or call him at (949)448-8509.

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