New Report: How cities can prosper with 100 percent clean energy

Over 70 cities across the globe have set targets to achieve 100 percent clean energy and made commitments to cut a billion tons of greenhouse gases by 2030. These trend-setting jurisdictions are found across the U.S. – underscoring that local leaders recognize the resiliency, cost-savings, job-creation, and pollution-reduction benefits clean energy investment provides.

That said, making the clean energy transition is something new: Clean energy isn’t an established city service like picking up the trash. Nor has it always been a major focus of cities. Here’s where a new report from Meister Consultants provides some guidance (Environmental Defense Fund staff provided technical guidance to the report’s authors).

The Meister report outlines options for cities pursuing 100 percent clean energy. It explains how to evaluate the clean energy landscape and can help officials understand the value of key actions and policies like renewable portfolio standards, incentives for distributed energy generation like rooftop solar panels, and power purchasing agreements which allow third parties to own clean energy assets like wind turbines and other renewables. 

Steps for success

The report also discusses steps like municipalization (where a city owns and operates the utility) and community choice aggregation (where the community gets to decide what kind of power resources they want). These two models break from the dominant “buy power from the utility” paradigm and are gaining interest across the country.

The second half of the report lists a handy set of implementation strategies under three main categories:

  • Consumer orientation. These strategies focus on financial incentives, “soft cost” improvements, land use repurposing, and group purchasing mechanisms that cities can deploy to grow local markets for renewable energy.
  • Municipal operations. This includes methods like goal setting, planning, and partnerships which can help cities source more clean power.
  • Utility engagement. Cities, and their significant purchasing power, can have large impact on a utilities’ resource planning. This strategy identifies the specific ways cities can leverage that power to influence utilities to use more clean energy.

Equitable transformation

Ensuring all residents can access clean energy, are included in planning, and are rightfully considered in light of structural and historic barriers is essential for cities.

The Meister Report lays out a framework so that the multiple dimensions of equity are baked into the energy transformation effort. The report suggests cities make equity and access a goal and plan now for ways to measure success.

Finally, the report provides guidance on internal capacity-building and network development ‒ how to nurture a groundswell of technical and social support for clean energy inside and outside of local government. This way, people participate in their own process, rather than having a new system imposed from the top.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted June 30, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Great post ! Thank you for this sharing !

  2. Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    This is an excellent approach! Future smart city needs so many elements that need to be powered by renewable energy ( off the grid) and this will be possible if implemented correctly

    We have been covering this topic on our blog: http://blog.lightinus.com/five-reasons-why-solar-street-lighting-is-a-smart-decision-for-cities

    We would like to hear your thoughts and expand on this topic even more.

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