Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Atlanta Charts a Path to 100 Percent Renewable Electricity

Three proposals are headed to the City Council on Tuesday.  The goals:  Make this Southern city a leader in renewable power and fight climate change.

Atlanta city officials are recommending a 2050 deadline for shifting the city to all-renewable electricity. They have a blueprint for how to get there, but they can't do it alone. (Credit: Mike Downey/CC-BY-2.0) Click to Enlarge.
If Atlanta can get to 100 percent clean electricity, then any city can, Al Gore said.  Now that signature Southern city in a deep red state has a plan to do just that.

On Tuesday, city officials will take their new road map for a greener future to the Atlanta City Council, outlining options that they say can fight climate change, improve health and bolster the economy all at once.

They are recommending a 2050 deadline—15 years slower than the pace the council agreed to a year ago for cleaning up the city's use of electricity.

That would allow time to tackle political challenges and to make the kinds of changes needed for a homegrown energy transformation.  The alternative is to rely mostly on merely buying credits from wind farms beyond Georgia's borders, a less desirable alternative, according to the report.

Atlanta is now among more than 70 U.S. cities to adopt a 100 percent renewable electricity goal, according to a tally by the Sierra Club.  That number has more than doubled in the last year as mayors and cities have reacted to President Donald Trump's announcement that he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

"It's encouraging to see this, and it provides an opportunity for hope," said John C. Dernbach, a professor at Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and an expert in the legal aspects of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables such as wind and solar.  "The more cities that do this and the more aggressively they do it, the faster we are going to get a tipping point on the economics and technology and, frankly, the politics."

Other cities that have pledged to get all their electricity from renewable sources include Salt Lake City, San Diego, St. Louis, and Orlando.

'Cities Must—and Can—Lead the Way'
Atlanta last year became the largest city in the South to make the pledge and, according to the Sierra Club's Georgia director, Ted Terry, it is among the first to develop a blueprint showing how to get there.  The plan was drawn up by the city's Office of Resilience after an extensive public outreach effort and has the blessing of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

"Cities must—and can—lead the way in accelerating this critical transition to clean and renewable energy sources," she wrote in a message that was included in the plan, noting the oversized roles that cities play in the global economy.  "We not only have the capacity to act; it is morally incumbent that we do so."

Read more at Atlanta Charts a Path to 100 Percent Renewable Electricity

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