Local governments lead the US energy transition says RMI


US local governments have signed 335 deals to procure a total of 8.28GW of renewable energy since 2015, according to the Local Government Renewables Action Tracker, a new resource launched by the American Cities Climate Challenge Renewables Accelerator.

The tracker, which documents renewable energy deals executed by US city, county, and tribal governments, reported that the capacity commissioned exceeds total energy generation capacity of the states of Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont combined.

The Local Government Renewables Action Tracker was created by the Renewables Accelerator, an initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge.

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“Cities are a great catalyst for advancing renewable energy because people pay more attention to what’s happening in their own communities,” said Christine Knapp, sustainability director for the City of Philadelphia.

“Our deal with a developer to provide 22% of the city’s electricity from a 70 megawatt solar facility generated so much interest from local institutions on how they could follow suit that we formed the Climate Collaborative of Greater Philadelphia to share knowledge among all these groups. Now, members of the Collaborative are announcing their own clean energy deals.”

Some of the largest deals from the last five years include a 50 megawatt solar deal by the small city of Sanford, Maine, and a 100MW deal signed by Cincinnati, one of the biggest municipal solar projects in the country, that helps the city meet its goal to reduce citywide carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

“Shifting to renewables makes perfect sense for Cincinnati. We can build this array locally, it’s cost-effective, and it lowers climate impacts,” said John Cranley, mayor of Cincinnati. “Our 2019 solar deal will power 25% of our municipal operations and 15% of our residential energy use by 2021. The cost savings and benefits this will deliver to our city has caught the interest of cities around the country. We keep getting calls on how they can follow suit.”

The Tracker consists of two components: a transaction map that shows renewable energy deals that US local governments have executed since 2015 and an engagement map, which highlights examples of efforts by local governments to advance their renewable energy goals by working with local utilities, regulators, and legislators.

“In the past five years alone, the renewable energy purchases made by local governments are equivalent to nearly 1% of the total installed energy generation capacity in the United States,” said Lori Bird, US energy director at World Resources Institute.

“Local communities are using their buying power and collective voice to accelerate the transition to renewables—a trend that is quickly spreading in communities across the country,” said Rushad Nanavatty, senior principal at Rocky Mountain Institute.

“As local governments become more ambitious on climate action, we see them increasingly use the power of their voices. By directly engaging with energy regulators and utilities—including through active interventions in integrated resource planning processes—local governments are changing the energy landscape far beyond their municipal boundaries.”

The Renewables Action Tracker is a living resource that will continue to be updated as more renewable energy deals are signed and local governments take action to advance their renewable energy options.

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