Government often has been the leader and the catalyst in the movement toward renewable energy. At the same time, government has faced its challenges. In 2017, the city of Atlanta joined the ranks of major American cities committed to getting all of their energy from clean power. One year later, the city is still trying to figure out how to reach that goal.
Resolution 17-R-3510 by then-city council member Kwanza Hall was approved more than a year ago by the city council on a 14–0 vote. It called for running all municipal operations on renewable power by the year 2025, and for all of Atlanta to be powered by renewables ten years later, in 2035. It also called for the city’s Office of Sustainability to present a plan for reaching those targets in January of this year.
So far, the latter goal is the only one the city has been able to reach. “Clean Energy Atlanta: A Vision for a 100% Clean Energy Future” was recently submitted to the city council. In June, the council tabled any formal action on the plan pending further review. The city has also pushed back the target dates. The plan now calls for running all municipal operations on renewables by 2035 and the entire city by 2050.
Rolling back the deadlines was seen as the best way to give the city enough time to implement meaningful changes that tap into local resources, rather than just buying energy credits from out of state providers to meet its goals.
Currently, Atlanta gets about 6 percent of its power from renewable sources, and it relies exclusively on the utility, Georgia Power.
The plan under consideration suggests three paths to achieving 100-percent renewables. The first assumes that the city takes no action to reduce energy consumption or increase renewable energy generation, and instead pays for renewable energy credits for renewable power produced outside of the Georgia Power service area to achieve 100 percent clean energy for the community. The second path assumes that the city achieves one-half of the amount of local clean energy through efficiency measures and rooftop solar without any changes to existing regulations. The third option assumes that the city maximizes all possible local clean energy available to reach the goal.