Great Strides Made in Setting Aggressive Clean Energy Goals
By Zach Taylor
Communities and utilities across the nation are making aggressive clean energy commitments. It’s an exciting time and we’re thrilled to play a role in transforming the landscape. Below are some great examples of what we’re seeing and supporting.
City of Boise and Idaho Power
On April 2, 2019 Boise’s City Council approved the Boise Energy Future Plan and set a goal of 100% citywide clean electricity by 2035. One week prior, Boise’s investor-owned utility, Idaho Power, announced its own goal of 100% clean electricity by 2045. This announcement comes on the heels of the utility’s participation in an 18-month planning process with the City of Boise where Idaho Power heard directly from the municipality and many community stakeholders that supported a move to clean electricity.
Brendle Group and Ide Energy had the opportunity to support the City of Boise in developing its plan, including completing the technical and economic analyses to inform strategy development. The planning process focused on developing a plan that maintains reliability, offers affordability, improves resiliency, and encourages local investment and innovation. In particular, Brendle Group developed a community energy baseline that includes a business-as-usual forecast through 2040. Using this baseline, Brendle Group supported two stakeholder workshops, first to analyze the feasibility of a 100% clean electricity goal, and then identify strategies for achieving that goal.
The City of Boise understands the important role Idaho Power plays in the success of achieving 100% citywide clean electricity. Strategies in the Boise Energy Future Plan include leveraging existing utility offerings (green power), distributed (rooftop) solar, energy efficiency, and working with Idaho Power to develop utility-scale clean electricity options for municipal operations and eventually the entire community. Through the process it was also important to acknowledge that Idaho Power was already providing a large portion of its electricity from clean sources, including hydropower and purchased renewables. Increased clean electricity opens the door to the community adopting electric vehicles as a clean transportation option more eagerly.
Xcel Energy and Colorado Communities
Last December, Xcel Energy became the first major U.S. utility to commit to 100% carbon free electricity by 2050. Xcel Energy’s CEO, Ben Fowke, gave several reasons for this commitment but one in particular stood out to us (quoted from Vox):
“When your customers are asking for this over and over, you really do listen. Boulder, the City of Denver, Breckenridge … Pueblo, they’re considered or they have already decided that they want to pursue 100 percent renewable.”
Several of the communities served through Xcel Energy Partners in Energy have 100% renewable electricity goals and/or are using Partners in Energy to develop strategies to make progress toward achieving those goals. Partners in Energy (facilitated by Brendle Group and our partners) involves a six-month facilitated planning process for each community that culminates in a community energy action plan. It also includes 18 months of customized strategy implementation support and progress-tracking for each community.
As one example, the City and County of Denver recently engaged with Partners in Energy to develop a strategic energy plan for achieving 100% renewable electricity in municipal facilities by 2025. The plan included strategies to increase energy efficiency in the City and County of Denver’s facilities and opportunities for renewable electricity investment. Since the City and County of Denver’s municipal goal precedes Xcel Energy’s 100% carbon free commitment the plan will rely on Xcel Energy’s Renewable*Connect and/or Windsource programs in the near term. Longer term, as Xcel Energy’s certified renewable percentage increases, the City and County of Denver will be able to rely less and less on special offerings.
Rocky Mountain Power and Utah Communities
On March 29th, Governor Herbert signed House Bill 411 – the Community Renewable Energy Act. The first of its kind, the bill requires communities that want to participate like Park City, Salt Lake City, and Summit County to adopt a resolution (by the end of this year) to obtain 100% of their electricity from a renewable energy source by 2030 (Means, 2019). The passage of this bill is the result of collaborative efforts among a number of entities in Utah, including Park City, Salt Lake City, Summit County, and Rocky Mountain Power.
“House Bill 411 is groundbreaking legislation, not just for our state, but for the country. It also represents the biggest breakthrough ever in Salt Lake City’s pursuit of clean energy. Powering all of our homes and businesses with renewable energy by 2030 will cut our community carbon footprint in half and create a replicable roadmap for others across the country.” Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski (Salt Lake City Governement, 2019)
House Bill 411 started with a memorandum of understanding between the communities and their utilities. The communities were interested in exploring 100% renewable electricity and collaborated with Rocky Mountain Power to figure out what was feasible through the utility. Rocky Mountain Power has been working with communities, including Salt Lake City, Park City, and Summit County, to shape their energy future through their program wattsmart communities (also designed and administered by Brendle Group). Through the program, community stakeholders engage in workshops to develop a vision, goals and action plan that reflects how the community wants to shape its energy use and supply.
We anticipate more community/utility collaboration and innovation in the near term and a transformed energy landscape in the long term as a result.
About the Author – As an engineer, Zach contributes leadership and skills in energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon analysis, engineering design, and program development to the Brendle Group team. He managed the community-wide energy plan for the City of Boise. In addition, Zach works on a range of energy and water assessment projects, analyzing utility data, conducting energy efficiency assessments, identifying efficiency opportunities, energy scenario analysis, and developing cost savings and payback estimates for a variety of commercial clients. Zach also performs cost-savings analyses, and measurement and verification on projects related to building equipment tune-up opportunities.
Means, E. (2019, March 9). Utah Bill To Move Communities To Net_zero Energy By 2030 First Of Its Kind. KPCW, pp. https://www.kpcw.org/post/utah-bill-move-communities-net-zero-energy-2030-first-its-kind#stream/0.
Salt Lake City Governement. (2019, April 22). Utah Communities Celebrate Landmark Renewable Energy Legislation. Retrieved from Salt Lake City Governement: https://www.slc.gov/blog/2019/04/22/utah-communities-celebrate-landmark-renewable-energy-legislation/