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City’s Public Works Head Resigns to Assume Key Energy Post

By Jorge Casuso

January 28 -- Craig Perkins, who helped make Santa Monica a capitol of sustainability and a leader in the use of alternative energy resigned his post as Director of Environmental and Public Works Management Thursday.

After 15 years overseeing the department that maintains and improves Santa Monica’s infrastructure – from removing graffiti and improving street lighting to making sure the sewers flow and the garbage is picked up – Perkins will take his skills and expertise to a bigger arena.

Perkins conducts bus tour of City projects in 2005 (Photo by Gene Williams)

Perkins, whose last day on the job will be March 14, will take over as executive director of the Energy Coalition, a non profit organization based in Irvine, California that helps cities reduce energy demand and greenhouse gas pollution.

“This is perhaps the most important policy challenge that confronts us, and cities will play a key role in the solutions that must be implemented over the next decade,” Perkins wrote in his resignation letter dated Thursday.

“Over the past 25 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to create programs that have set the example for other governments to follow,” Perkins wrote. “It is now the right time for me, however, to transition to a new and different phase in my career.”

“This decision has been very difficult for me both because of the critical importance of the many EPWM projects and programs that are currently underway and the close and productive professional relationships that I have been able to develop with my colleagues over many years,” Perkins wrote.

Perkins’ ambitious vision of making Santa Monica energy efficient and self-sufficient spurred his department to seek ways to help the environment while encouraging everyone else in the city to do the same.

Under Perkins’ stewardship, Santa Monica was named one of the five most sustainable cities in the country, and could have ranked higher, if it weren’t for regional problems, such as air pollution and lack of public transit, City officials said.

“Craig has put Santa Monica on the map by creating a number of cutting edge Environmental Programs that are highly regarded and have been replicated throughout the Country,” City Manager Lamont Ewell wrote in a letter to City staff Thursday.

“While I am sorry to see Craig leave Santa Monica, I recognize nonetheless that this is a great opportunity for him and the many communities that will benefit from his leadership in energy reduction demands and gas house gases,” Ewell wrote.

Overseeing a nearly $71.7 million budget and 388 employees, Perkins was known for thinking big, as well as small.

He replaced the conventional light bulbs around the Promenade with energy-and-maintenance-saving LED lights and oversaw the constructon of what is likely the nation’s first sustainable solar-powered parking structure.(see story)

And he foresaw a day when the entire community could slice two-thirds of its energy demand by encouraging residents and businesses to be more efficient and by giving them incentives to install thousands of solar electric panels on rooftops across the city.

“You put those together, and Santa Monica, within its boundaries, on a yearly basis, could come pretty close to providing all its own electricity needs,” Perkins predicted in an interview posted on The Lookout in August 2006. (see story)

Ewell said he would advise staff on how he plans to fill the key position.

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“Over the past 25 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to create programs that have set the example for other governments to follow.” Craig Perkins

 

"Craig has put Santa Monica on the map by creating a number of cutting edge Environmental Programs." Lamont Ewell

 

Santa Monica, within its boundaries, on a yearly basis, could come pretty close to providing all its own electricity needs.” Craig Perkins

 

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