Cities across America are recognizing that climate change is here, and the need to introduce more renewable technology solutions is eminent. The City of Manhattan Beach, located in Southern California, presented its MB2025 vision at a community forum on March 29, 2014, to demonstrate the importance of addressing climate change and the need to convert to solar energy and other clean energy resources. They are committing to 100% renewable energy of their City’s power supply by 2025, converting from fossil fuel power sources to renewable energy sources. They are among other cities in California, such as Lancaster, that are dedicated to net-zero carbon emissions. They have recognized the value and importance of conversion for both environmental and economic benefits.
This forum was hosted by the City of Manhattan Beach in corroboration with the 350.org climate action group, supported by Joe Galliani and founded by Bill McKibben, and included presentations by notable state-wide representatives of government, non-profits, and private sector interests. These included Diane Moss, Founding Director of Renewable 100 Policy Institute; Cordel Stillman, Deputy, Chief Engineer of the Sonoma County Water Agency; Robert Metcaff, solar developer; Chris Pain, Director of Who Killed the Electric Car; Paul Scott, advocate for electric vehicles and Founding Member of Plug-In America; Sona Coffee, MB's Environmental Programs Mgr.; and other community leaders.
The gist of the presentation focused on the many benefits of converting its community’s main power source from utility companies to local solar power for use by its residents and business enterprises. Citing a commercial application, Stellar Energy has installed a 960-kW solar project that will provide clean energy to James Cameron’s film company, Lightstorm Entertainment Inc., located in Manhattan Beach. Many residents also have placed solar panels on their homes, and the thrust is to help convert most homes to a renewable energy source by 2025. Also emphasized was the use of electric-powered vehicles and adopting more easily accessible plug-in stations for them. This would substantially reduce carbon emissions by the City, reduce dependency on utilities, generate revenue, reduce costs and return power to the grid.
Cordel Stillman emphasized the benefits to Sonoma County in
Northern California, in promoting a Clean
Energy program in his district. His goal is "Carbon Free Water by 2015" and has a grand expansion program in the works for renewable energy technologies for Sonoma. Agreement among Marin County communities and governments was necessary to reach these goals.
Numerous financing options, which were discussed, are available for these large-scale renewable energy projects for cities, for example, PACE, the Property Assessed Clean Energy program. These would financially benefit homeowners, businesses and the city committed to 100% renewable-energy.
Recently the South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG) had its 15th Annual General Assembly, presenting the case as to why we must care about environmental impacts of Climate Change: The Cost of Environmental Changes to the South Bay. Members presented a broader scope on the utilization of clean energy technologies for issues facing the region (13 cities and LA County), and better management of our water, waste, and energy resources. These important actions by local governments are a major step towards the broader goal of cutting carbon emitting sources that impact Climate Change and affects the regions’ environmental quality and quality of life.
In addition, these commitments open up countless opportunities to explore and engage many parties in sharing in the economic and environmental benefits, for homeowners; consumers; schools; transportation planners and providers; city projects; architects; construction and commercial builders; manufacturing; utility energy providers, the California ports, and so on.
Renewable energy technology will also play a major role in
addressing the complex transportation issues in California, to adopt more
sustainable solutions that could help eliminate the nightmarish congested freeways
and improve the transportation of goods from our ports. These green solutions
present great economic opportunities for creative, innovative, transportation
options and programs.
Some commuter transportation options might include electric buses and express bus services for commuters who drive long distances daily and where metro lines are out of range for hard-to-reach places. This could be a park-and-ride Express Electric bus service which would serve LA County residents. Or cities could adopt well-organized neighborhood car-pool resource centers, for neighbors who work in the same area and need to find others who want to car pool. Short-distance commuting lends itself to expanding bicycle ridership programs, promoting the use of smart cars, etc.
The commitment to 100% renewable energy is also catching on rapidly by corporations. Large established companies have begun to recognize the savings and social benefits of aiming for 100% renewable energy for their businesses, such as Kohl’s, Staples, IKEA; BMW; Google; Apple; and a shopping mall in Santa Monica, for example. It provides a parking lot with electric car charging ports, attracting people from all areas of Southern California who also help the local economy by making local purchases.
Furthermore, California has a wealth of emerging, large and mid-sized Green-Tech, Clean-Energy, Resource-Management companies that can offer innovative solutions to different resource-management issues. They are benefiting by the increased demand for these services, by providing an array of solutions for clients with different needs for clean, renewable technologies, regionally and globally. In addition, they are providing job opportunities and expanding economic growth in our region.
In conclusion, the City of Manhattan Beach’s commitment to
reach 100% renewable energy by 2025, and public forums by regional city
governments, exemplify the continued growth of clean energy and renewable-technology
solutions, as part of a holistic approach by cities across the United States to
improve overall quality of life and to reduce their carbon generation.
Most importantly, for successful transitioning to a strong “green economy”, it is crucial to engage the public and business communities, and also have the corroboration of local, state and federal officials. This is a win-win-win solution.