City of Lodi Shade Tree Program A Huge Success | News
A new program aimed at providing shade to residents and helping them save on energy costs has been suspended until further notice due to its overwhelming popularity.
Last year, Lodi Electric Utility partnered with Tree Lodi to create the Lodi Shade Tree program to provide free trees and planting instructions to eligible customers in an effort to keep their homes cooler during hot summers and reduce energy bills.
By working with nine nurseries in the area, Tree Lodi was able to secure 500 trees which were all secured by Lodi Electric customers within weeks for the pilot program.
“We are very pleased to have had a huge response from potential customers,” said Tree Lodi President Steve Dutra. “We hope to continue the program next year, but the budget is limited. We anticipate that the city will be able to fund it in the next fiscal year.
Dutra said the first cycle of the program, which launched last fall, cost $71,500. There is money left over from the first round in the event of a planting, and it has been earmarked for administrative costs and expenses, he said.
To participate in the program, Lodi Electric customers received an extract from their monthly bill explaining the benefits of shade trees.
Residents were invited to apply online at www.treelodi.comand the only requirement to participate was to be a Lodi Electric customer.
After filling out an application, Tree Lodi forester Bill Nantt would schedule a home meeting, inspect properties and provide advice on where to plant the tree and what type is best suited.
Each client could reserve up to three five-gallon trees, as long as their properties could accommodate them, Dutra said.
Michelle Dominguez was the first resident to receive shade trees in December at her Pacific Avenue home.
“I’m concerned about the number of downed trees across the city,” she said of her reason for running. “I have a feeling that some of the more recently planted trees aren’t going to get taller than 15 feet, and the shorter trees just don’t provide shade. I think in 20 or 30 years we won’t have big trees in Lodi.
Dominguez received three trees and said that since there were several power lines around his house, they would be a bit smaller than others on his property and in the neighborhood.
When the program is available again, Dominguez said she will definitely encourage neighbors and friends in town to consider requesting shade trees.
“I think it’s a great program,” she said. “I’m glad the program was able to get support from the city and the nurseries, and I think once the news broke there was overwhelming demand. This shows that people know the importance of trees, not only because they provide shade, but also because of their environmental benefits.
These benefits, Dutra said, include producing more oxygen, as well as improving community aesthetics and increasing property values for many residents.
Additionally, planting trees in particular areas of your property — where it might prevent direct sunlight from glaring through windows — can naturally cool a home.
This means residents don’t need air conditioning as much, which can lower their electricity bills.
“Our motto is ‘The right tree in the right place,'” Dutra said. “Our project team did a great job, both individually and collectively, and in some cases we exceeded the goals we set for the program. The city should be happy and the city council should be happy with the end result.
Tree Lodi hopes to expand the program in 2022, pending funding by Lodi Electric Utility in the 2022-23 fiscal budget, which is expected to be approved by city council by June 30.