New report identifies solutions for cities and states to overcome energy - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables  -  June 5, 2020

New report finds solutions for cities to overcome energy transition hurdles

A new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), the University of Michigan and Sierra Club found that cities and states bear most the burden of implementing clean energy policies and in order to reach their targets they must invest more money, build more expertise and garner more support from utilities.

Utility Dives reported that an important part of this burden is to ensure that vulnerable communities are not neglected in the transition away from fossil fuels, but rather are offered early buy-in opportunities. While resources are constrained and cities may not control their utility companies, local leaders will have to find solutions to ensure staffers and residents gain the expertise they need to implement these changes.

The report identifies top methods for city-building initiatives that cities and states should explore, like LED lighting, green building certification, public electric vehicle charging stations and on-site renewables. It also suggests that the most common ways to reduce energy burden include partnering with representative and community-based groups from low-income communities and providing community education and workshops.

"A lot of the commitments were started by mayors or city councils, and so a lot of it wasn't really a public commitment," report co-author Kanchan Swaroop told Utility Dive. "We found that the cities that had this public backing and public support of the commitment ended up doing better. It helped in their progress to have the public be informed and aware of what was happening, but also be included in the actual decision-making process."

Swaroop also told Utility Dive that public pressure can be key in encouraging utilities to change their habits if residents are recruited to spearheading citywide decarbonization efforts.

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