Why Cities Continue to Push Renewable Energy Investments

Cities are adopting policies supporting a more diversified energy portfolio. California cities are leading the way in solar technology investments


What Happened?

Cities nationwide are adopting new policies in support of a more diversified energy portfolio. California cities, in particular, are leading the way in solar technology investments.

Georgetown, TX

Georgetown, Texas, recently announced plans to run on 100 percent renewable energy thanks to investments in wind and solar technology. Georgetown is home to a city-owned utility provider which recently signed an agreement with SunEdison to build and maintain a solar farm over the next 25 years. SunEdison will construct and operate a solar farm in West Texas which will sell 150 megawatts of solar energy to Georgetown. Furthermore, the city has signed another contract with EFD Renewables to purchase 144 megawatts of wind power from a wind farm in West Texas until 2039.

The goal of the move to 100 percent renewable energy sources and away from fossil fuels is to protect the city and its residents from fluctuations in fuel prices typically seen in fossil fuels and natural gas markets.

California Sun

A recent study from Environment California analyzed the solar investments in 65 major cities across the county and discovered 1.3 gigawatts of total solar photovoltaic capacity has been installed within these metropolitan areas. According to the study, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Indianapolis and San Jose are leading the nation in total installed solar photovoltaic capacity.

The study also outlined the many ways increasing solar energy reduces risks for growing cities including:

  • Mitigating the dangerous impacts of global warming such as severe storms
  • Allowing residents and businesses to reduce air pollution
  • Strengthening city electric grids by increasing resilience
  • Spurring economic growth in cities through job creation

To fully reap the benefits of solar energy  technology, the researchers recommend cities adopt pro-solar policies that support innovation and investment in the renewable energy industry:

  • Streamline the permitting process for solar power
  • Removing local barriers to solar energy adoption
  • Expanding access to solar
  • Partner with local utilities

In fact, many developers are following EPA guidelines for environmentally responsible buildings. These construction projects use renewable materials and clean energy technology to keep buildings efficient and functional. Many cities are supporting developers who implement these standards in all new projects.

Carbon Neutral

Some municipalities interested in making drastic changes to their energy portfolio are setting the goal of becoming carbon neutral in the near future. To achieve this milestone - and join the ranks of Melbourne, Copenhagen and Burlington, Vermont –cities are adopting energy-focused policies that support green technology and economic growth simultaneously.

Fort Collins

Fort Collins, Colorado, recently approved targets to reduce the city’s emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Fort Collins has aggressive goals to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2030 and be completely carbon neutral by 2050. The city was inspired to directly address the impacts of climate change and pollution in light of recent wildfires and floods that have caused catastrophic damage to the local infrastructure, Inside Climate News reported.

Fort Collins has partnered with the Rocky Mountain Institute to study the costs and benefits of policies tied to the new emission goals. Because the city owns the local utility provider, Fort Collins is able to readjust investments to center on renewables rather than coal or fossil fuels. The city will also support other projects including:

  • Retrofitting buildings and homes
  • Investing in wind and solar power
  • Promoting and improving public transportation

Vancouver

Vancouver has also announced plans to operate on 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2050. The city has drawn up a package of policies that would convert the entire city to run on clean and renewable energy in the next 35 years. Not only will the shift reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also save residents and businesses money on rising energy costs associated with climate change – currently estimated at $9.5 billion, Vancouver Observer reported.

With a strong economic strategy to increase job growth through investment in wind and solar power, Vancouver plans to pilot a 100 percent renewable model. The city will collect data and monitor progress so as to extract best practices that can be shared with other cities worldwide, Vancouver Observer reported.

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