City of Atlanta Commits to 100% Renewable Energy Goal

This blog was written by Anne Blair, former Director of the Clean Fuels Program at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | May 2, 2017 | Energy Policy

On Monday, the Atlanta City Council passed a resolution that commits the City to meeting 100 percent of their electricity consumption with clean energy resources and associated technologies by 2035.  The goal also includes a near-term goal that will commit the City to powering their own facilities with 100 percent clean energy by 2025. The vote on the resolution was unanimous.

SACE testified in support, specifically highlighting the benefits of renewable energy to public health and the climate as well as the co-benefits of clean, renewable energy combined with electric vehicles and energy storage in creating a more flexible and resilient energy grid. As noted in the press release by our partners at Environment Georgia, Atlanta is now the largest city in the Southeast with a 100 percent clean electricity goal and is the 27th city nationally to commit to the 100 percent goal. St. Petersburg, FL and Boone, NC are the only other cities in the Southeast with a similar goal.

Georgia Power serves as the electricity provider for the city. While they are phasing out their coal dependence and increasing their renewable energy generation, they continue to rely heavily on nuclear and natural gas with just 2 percent of Georgia Power’s portfolio of energy sources coming from renewable energy.

In a letter sent to the Atlanta City Council from multiple organizations in Georgia, including SACE, we expressed our concern about the negative consequences of continued reliance on these dirty energy sources and the disproportionate impacts to our most vulnerable communities: lower-income Americans and communities of color.

Through the city’s new 100 percent goal, the plan will also seek to create “structured mechanisms” that will engage these communities including job development, equitable access, and affordable energy options. Supporters included a wide range of interest groups including SACEEnvironment Georgia, Spelman College, Partnership for Southern Equity, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Mothers & Others for Clean Air, EV Club of the South, Sierra Club as well as solar companies, academic and faith-based groups.

The plan will be developed by the City of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability and will include interim milestones, budget estimates, equity metrics, estimated financial impacts, financing mechanisms, and the percentage of clean energy that shall be locally distributed. The plan will be completed by January 2018.

With federal action on climate change in question, cities are taking this opportunity to be leaders in reducing sources of greenhouse gases and the threats of climate change. Currently, more than 200 businesses, cities and countries have committed to 100 percent renewable energy including San Diego, Salt Lake City, and Chicago. Clean energy will not only provide cleaner, healthier communities, but will provide new jobs and support our local economies. Meeting the goal will require continued strong leadership from the current and incoming administration.

The resolution was introduced by Council member Kwanza Hall and we thank him, his staff and all the council members for their leadership in the adoption of this goal. There were many groups who helped make this a reality, sending letters and emails, making calls and testifying at the hearings. We look forward to the continued work together to ensure that it is implemented.

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