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Investigating City Commitments to 100% Renewable Energy

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A number of United States (U.S.) cities are proposing and implementing bold sustainable solutions in order to combat
the social, environmental, and economic impacts of climate change. Cities of all sizes around the country are taking
control by pledging to reach community-wide goals of 100% renewable energy. However, many of these cities are
unsure of how to meet these commitments. Although the renewable energy potential throughout the U.S. is strong,
cities are facing other types of challenges that are hindering their ability to progress swiftly to meet the commitment.

Published in: Environment
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Investigating City Commitments to 100% Renewable Energy

  1. 1. INVESTIGATING CITY COMMITMENTS TO 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY: LOCALTRANSITIONSAND ENERGY DEMOCRACY PRESENTERS:Matthew Haugen,Kanchan Swaroop,Sydney Troost, SamanthaVanDyke,SabrinaVivian CLIENT: Institute for Local Self-Reliance ADVISOR: Dr.Tony Reames 1
  2. 2. PRESENTATION OVERVIEW Introduction Background Insights From Across the Country Perspectives From Select Cities Recommendations
  3. 3. PROJECT TEAM INTRODUCTION
  4. 4. INTRODUCTION
  5. 5. RISING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS POSE AN IMMEDIATE THREAT TO HUMANS AND ECOSYSTEMS INTRODUCTION Renewable energy sources provide a sustainable, zero emission solution to U.S. reliance on fossil fuels 45% Global carbon dioxide emissions reduction needed by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C
  6. 6. CLIMATE CHANGE IS CATALYZING CITY-LEVEL ACTION INTRODUCTION 80% of U.S. residents live in urban areas Cities produce of the world's carbon emissions70% In the U.S., cities consume of electricity production95% Cities have the ability to be dynamic change agents in transformative energy policy
  7. 7. CITIES IN CONTIGUOUS U.S.THAT HAVE MADE THE READY FOR 100 COMMITMENT AS OF MARCH 2020 BACKGROUND READY FOR 100: A national movement of people working to inspire our leaders to embrace a vision of healthier communities powered with 100% clean, renewable energy.
  8. 8. ENERGY DEMOCRACY The implementation of participatory forms of energy governance and civic ownership – where decisions are made by the users of energy A social movementinvolved in advancing renewable energy transitions away from a fossil-fuel dominantregime BACKGROUND Image credit: susdev.eu
  9. 9. PROJECT PURPOSE BACKGROUND This project is intended to make information on the mechanisms of the 100% renewable energy transition easily accessible for cities within transition and those that are considering making a similar commitment. In addition, it aims to help cities bring renewable energy access and decision making back to the local level as efficiently and equitably as possible.
  10. 10. INSIGHTS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY
  11. 11. KEY MECHANISMS AND TOOLS BY WHICH WE AIMEDTO ASSESS CITIES WITHIN THEIR TRANSITIONS Commitment Origin & Strength Data Access Finance Municipality & Utility Structure Policy Resource Assessment Social Technology INSIGHTS
  12. 12. TOP COMMITMENT DRIVERS INSIGHTS
  13. 13. TOP BARRIERS TO ACHIEVING COMMITMENT INSIGHTS
  14. 14. STAFF DEDICATEDTO ENERGY TOPICS BY CITY SIZE INSIGHTS
  15. 15. INSIGHTS CITIES'ACCESS TO DATAAND RESOURCES 77% Cities or organizations that track energy usage in municipal buildings Cities conducted or continue to conduct a GHG inventory52% Top resources cities use to access information • Other cities, towns,or counties that have made similar commitments • Recommendations from city- facilitated task forces • National non-profits • Peer network of municipal sustainability staff • Online database(s) of city renewable energy practices • Metrics to evaluate renewable energy initiatives Helpful resources that were not available
  16. 16. MUNICIPAL BUILDING INITIATIVES INSIGHTS
  17. 17. INSIGHTS MOSTWIDELY ASSESSED LOCAL ENERGY RESOURCES 79% Distributed solar Onshore wind27% 40% Utility scale solar
  18. 18. INSIGHTS FUNDING PROCUREMENT 67% Cities or organizations procure funding to implement programs and technological developments used to reach commitment through local taxes or fees State resources were the second most common source of funding31% Other resources,used to a less common extent • Federal funding • Fundraising / donations • Local and / or national organization
  19. 19. INSIGHTS • Meetings with community groups • Connecting with elected or appointed officials • Public hearings,workshops,and social media Electric vehicles 75% 61% Green building codes Energy efficiency programs 58% ENGAGEMENT IN ENERGY POLICY Engagement in energy policy is sought through: Most common energy related mandates or policies being passed:
  20. 20. ENERGY PROGRAMS INSIGHTS
  21. 21. ENERGY DEMOCRACY & EQUITY INSIGHTS Energy democracy issues are at least moderately to extremely important to the community 94% 83% Do not think or do not know if their city is adequately addressing the disproportionate burden of the transition to 100% renewable energy on low-income communities and communities of color
  22. 22. CITY EFFORTS OF REDUCING ENERGY BURDEN What does your local government consider as the top energy equity issue is in their city? “Financial burden on seniors and low-income residents” “Not yet considering energy equity” “Equalparticipation in decision making” INSIGHTS
  23. 23. PERSPECTIVES FROM SELECT CITIES
  24. 24. CASE STUDY: LEVERAGING PUBLIC UTILITY OWNERSHIP ENERGY TRANSITION IN TRAVERSE CITY, MI PERSPECTIVES Image credit: TraverseCity.com
  25. 25. PERSPECTIVES “Having a municipal utility is about as democratic as it gets when it comes to owning your own power:There's this tiny board and you can influence who gets appointed and elected.They listen to the community.” -Kate Madigan,Michigan ClimateAction Network PHOTO? v UtilityType: Municipal utility (Traverse City Light & Power) v Renewable Energy Commitment:100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2040
  26. 26.  A municipal utility provides significant avenues for energy democracy and making the commitment  Building grassroots community support can create more favorable conditions for a city to make and sustain the transition  Being bold and making a commitment even without a dedicated plan or funding can play a significant role in making progress PERSPECTIVES “We are so fortunate,I feel,to have our own little utility that answers to our ratepayers and is part of the city.” -TimWerner,City Commissioner andTCLP board member PHOTO?
  27. 27. CASE STUDY:THE POWER OF LOCAL ACTIVISM ENERGY TRANSITION IN PORTLAND, OR PERSPECTIVES Image credit: TripAdvisor.com
  28. 28. PERSPECTIVES “There’s an appetite for big things right now,and this is a city that historically has had a lot of environmental activism here.” -Nick Caleb,Center for Sustainable Economy v UtilityType: Investor-owned utilities (Portland General Electric, Pacific Power,Northwest Natural) v Renewable Energy Commitment:100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2035
  29. 29.  Grassroots movements are beneficial in achieving energy goals  Energy democracy in action has been illustrated by the overwhelming support of the Portland Clean Energy Fund  Having a solid relationship with the investor- owned utility is key to achieving the commitment  Addressing the transportation sector has been a significant challenge due to rapid developmentand increasing population PERSPECTIVES “A partnership with the community,I think,is probably one of the most crucial parts of this [process].” - JohnWasiutynski,Multnomah County Office of Sustainability
  30. 30. CASE STUDY: PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT FOR PROGRESS ENERGY TRANSITION IN COLUMBIA, SC PERSPECTIVES Image credit: ColumbiaSC.net
  31. 31. PERSPECTIVES “We speak to building a community that everyone wants to live in and we’ve been able to find some unanimity of purpose as a result of it” -Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia,SC v UtilityType: Investor-owned utility (Dominion Energy) and state- owned utility (Santee Cooper) v Renewable Energy Commitment: 100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2036
  32. 32.  Public support can bring about necessary resources for a just and fruitful process  Communication across various stakeholders and interest groups should be prioritized  Leverage state lawmakers to push for helpful policy mechanisms like a statewide renewable portfolio standard  Empower the implementers,like city staff, to make decisions and broach stakeholders PERSPECTIVES “It’s a tough thing to be resilient,but it’s a necessary thing to be resilient. We have to bounce back because what choice do we have?” -Penny Cothran,Sierra Club
  33. 33. RECOMMENDATIONS Image credit: Itu.int
  34. 34. RECOMMENDATIONS Designate a team or person entrusted to champion the initialization and maintain communication within the local government Hire dedicated staff and foster connections with other cities to maximize expertise in the transition ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
  35. 35. RECOMMENDATIONS Build partnerships, coalitions, and relationships externally and within the city to work together and share resources, stories, and knowledge Partner with neighboring cities on energy projects, whether they have made the commitment or not Engage with other cities that have similar commitments to build a network of peers for sharing best practices, data, and metrics Collaborate with community-based organizations and national non- profits that can provide additional perspectives and resources NETWORK DEVELOPMENT
  36. 36. RECOMMENDATIONS Empower citizens to have voices within the energy system through education, engagement in energy policy and regulation issues, and support of community-based organizations Ensure disproportionate energy burden is being adequately addressed by engaging marginalized communities and investing in efficiency and clean energy programs directed towards these communities COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
  37. 37. RECOMMENDATIONS Assess the use and allocation of local taxes and fees from the city and supplement with state, federal, and other fundraising opportunities Advocate for renewable energy policies and funding mechanisms at the state and federal level Develop an interim goal to help motivate staffers towards the transition to 100% POLICYACTION
  38. 38. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INCREASING ENGAGEMENT AND EQUITY Understand that energy democracy and equity issues go hand in hand Engage frontline communities throughoutall decision- making bodies and processes Invest in and prioritize marginalized communities
  39. 39. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COMMUNITY GROUPS AND ORGANIZERS Focus efforts on some areas where cities need help most:funding, technological expertise, legal expertise,access to data,public support Communicatewith city staff working in plan implementation will help build bridge gap between public and city Help build public support to get clean energy-friendly electeds in office while holding them accountable on their campaign promises
  40. 40. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CITIES WITH INVESTOR-OWNED UTILITIES Incentivize the initial commitmentby utilities with renewable portfolio standards,community choice energy,and public pressure Work together with other committed cities in the area to put pressure on the utility to be an engaged partner in the transition Explore the potential for municipalization which may allow for greater energy democracy or help to push an IOU to act
  41. 41. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CITIES CONTEMPLATING A COMMITMENT Increase engagement within the city in order to mobilize the public to advocate for change Track energy usage in municipal buildings and build a greenhouse gas inventory as a way of making future planning easier Communicatewith your state’s energy office or environmental groups to see what resources are available for easing the planning process Formalize the commitment even if there is not a fully-developed plan in place
  42. 42. RECOMMENDATIONS “Just do it!” - Mayor Jim Caruthers of Traverse City, MI
  43. 43. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING ANY QUESTIONS? FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONAND RESOURCES,PLEASE VISIT HTTPS://URBANENERGYJUSTICELAB.COM/LOCALENERGY

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