There seems to be a clear trend brewing in the United States about a transition to clean energy, and it is starting in the towns we live in.
The ongoing quest to reach 100% renewable energy is slowly accumulating support. This past week, the first cities in Wisconsin and Louisiana have committed to transitioning to 100% renewables, following city council votes.
Madison, Wisconsin and Abita Springs, Louisiana are not alone in this transition by any means. Across America, there are now 25 cities who have committed to the same goal. From San Diego, California to Salt Lake City, Utah to Georgetown, Texas, cities across the country are putting their faith behind renewable energy.
Madison is the biggest city in the region to commit to such a plan, which also includes targets of net-zero carbon emissions. The city council vote unanimously supported the resolution, which allocates $250,000 to this goal. However, the quarter of a million dollars will be spent simply on developing the roadmap to reach these goals. The plan should be completed by January 18th, 2018 and will include target dates, interim milestones, budget estimates and expected financial impacts.
Given that it will take a quarter of a million dollars and 9 months to merely find out how much the proposal will actually cost, it is unclear how long it will be before the city actually accomplishes what it unilaterally voted for.
Common Council Alderman Zach Wood says that his city is confident in its commitment and is determined to pioneer the movement away from fossil fuels, which “threaten our health and environment.”
In Abita Springs, Louisiana, the city council also reached a unanimous vote. The city’s goal includes a target date of December 31st, 2030, at which 100% of the town’s electricity will be from renewable sources.
The Sierra Club, an environmental organization, was quick to address the bipartisan support demonstrated by these two series of votes from the politically polar municipalities. For instance, on Election Day, 70% of supporters in Madison, Wisconsin supported Hillary Clinton. In the parish that Abita Springs, Louisiana is located, 75% of voters supported Donald Trump. The Republican mayor of Abita Springs, Greg Lemons, even vocalized his support, saying that the transition is necessary for the environment and the economy.
The Abita Committee for Energy Sustainability echoed these notions, referring directly to the fact that Louisiana is dominated by oil interests. The dominance of oil, however, has not stopped the community from boasting a solar-powered brewery, nor from seeking other avenues to apply renewables technology. The committee also believes the proposal will help the city economically while protecting the “legendary” clean water and air.
According to a 2016 Gallup poll, for the first time even a majority (51%) of Republicans and right-wing independents support alternative energy strategies. This is up from the previous high of 46% in 2011. The transitions by these localities will likely become more prevalent but also more difficult as President Trump acts upon his pro-fossil fuel policies and removes funding from environmental agencies.
The Solutions Project is a group whose goal is to make clean energy more easily accessible and affordable. They are encouraging local communities and governments to commit to transitioning their energy infrastructure to renewables.
A study published by the group provides details concerning how each state can capitalize upon their own unique resources to source renewable energy. The proposal affirms that these transitions would help fight climate change, save lives by eliminating air pollution, stabilize electricity prices, and create jobs in the fast growing renewable energy sector.