John Plaggmier
John Plaggmier

Home Again: When Your Passions and Hometown Align

Since recently moving back to my hometown, one of my favorite places to visit in Nevada City is Sugarloaf Mountain. From a bird’s-eye-view you can see the downtown storefronts surrounded by heavily wooded forest and the rolling foothills along the horizon. While it was the panoramic view that brought me there, it’s the perspective that is so great about this spot. My younger self took for granted the scenic beauty and rich history this Gold Rush town has to offer. Now as an adult returning to my old stomping grounds, I am eager to explore Nevada County while giving back to this eclectic community I call home.

NevadaCityI grew up in both Grass Valley and Nevada City and my relationship with this area has been complicated. I went through periods of wanting to move to a bigger city and feeling like my hometown didn’t have enough to offer. When I was little, I remember I couldn’t believe people would come here for vacation. “You don’t come here for vacation, you leave here,” I thought. It’s taken me a while to come to grips with how great this little Sierra foothills town is to live in. It took until I moved away to Southern California to grasp why people would escape the fast pace of city life to experience a small town with well-preserved history and picturesque scenery.

Seeing how much I’ve gained from growing up here, I am eager to give back to the community that has given me so much. Working with the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch team at SBC gives me the opportunity to help our local economy by offering small and medium sized businesses energy efficiency upgrades. These upgrades help Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) ratepayers with their bottom line and in many cases improve their workplace. In the aggregate, energy efficiency reduces demand on the grid and lowers green house gas emissions. Our team also specializes in helping what we term “hard-to-reach” businesses that benefit most from the incentives we have to offer through PG&E. My hope is that by helping businesses become more energy efficient we can encourage sustainability for both the economy and the environment.

I’m inspired by the efforts local businesses and governments are making to be innovative in their use of renewable resource and energy efficiency. Recently, The City of Grass Valley worked with Opterra Energy Services to update streetlights and City facilities with LED lighting as well as installing photovoltaic arrays at two locations. It is predicted to save the city over $7 million during the life of the project and has already resulted in a 50% reduction in electricity costs. This type of responsible development and leadership in adapting to the needs of a thriving community through sustainable practices inspires me and makes me proud of where I’m from.

While I’ve seen a lot of this area, I’m amazed by how much beauty I missed growing up without thinking to stop and appreciate my surroundings. Now, on weekends my favorite thing to do is revisit my old favorite spots and play tourist in my hometown using SBC’s Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide. I’ve explored lengths of trail along the Yuba River that I never ventured to before and have taken an active interest in learning more about the history of this unique area. It’s great to be home amongst family, friends, and a community of like-minded people that share my love of Sierra Nevada.