A 2025 Vision for 100% Renewable Energy for Manhattan Beach, CA

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim Baker April 03, 2014 at 06:30 PM
They're living in a fantasy world. The one thing they won't quantify is the actual financial cost to the public. They talk about economic benefits, but never give any actual verifiable estimates or data, and never give any guarantees, and for good reason too. It would have helped if they could have cited a single similar community that has been able to do a similar successful transition. But at least with a goal set for 2025, that gives residents times to bail out before economic Armageddon strikes.
Mike Syi April 06, 2014 at 04:47 PM
This sounds like it could work. Remember when everyone said LEAD in gas could not be removed! People laughed at the Prius and now look at the autos MPG and power. We must change and think about the future in this way.
Paul Scott April 11, 2014 at 04:46 PM
Jim Baker, renewable wind and solar energy has dropped dramatically in the past few years. Wind is now cheaper than new coal plants, and recently, Austin Energy signed a 25 year power purchase agreement (PPA) for 5 cents kWh! http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/solar-power-cheaper-natural-gas-coal-and-nuclear-power-texas.html Most of the roofs in MB are perfect for solar. If you average $100/month or more in electricity bills, you are losing money by not going solar.
Joe Galliani April 12, 2014 at 04:20 PM
Every good idea we've ever had in America brings out the "No Can Do" crowd of critics and ballbusters who never contribute to the solutions and only see impossible problems wherever they look. The list of arrogantly ignorant people who said we couldn't land a man on the moon; that we couldn't win WWII; that seatbelts/airbags/catalytic converters/anti-lock breaks would make cars prohibitively expensive; that solar panels don't work; that planes would never fly, that personal computers were unnecessary, that no one would want their own cell phone, that we can't get off fossil fuels; that we can't outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants without them all going out of business; that the clean air act and the clean water act would never work and would cost business too much money; etc, etc, etc is endless and a source of amusement. These same types of people also told Einstein he was wrong, said the same thing to Henry Ford and Steve Jobs and are now badmouthing Elon Musk. These know-nothings never learn and they never let facts get in the way of their "It Can't Be Done" attitudes. Their opinions are worthless - and based on history, completely easy and justifiable to ignore. If Jim Baker had attended MB2025's forum he would have heard real world answers and case studies based on fact - including comments from the Mayors of actual communities where they are already making these transitions. So you can see why it is hard to respect an opinion that based on some preordained notion in one's head when one didn't bother to do their homework or choose to make any sense. It is your American right to invent whatever stories in your head that make you feel better about what you choose to believe, but that doesn't mean those of us living in the reality-based world need to take you seriously.
Gerry O'Connor April 13, 2014 at 06:00 PM
As laudable as the focus of this forum may have been, Councilman D'Errico was absolutely on the mark, both procedurally and ethically, when he respectfully pointed out at the subsequent (April 1) MB City Council meeting that no "visions", "goals", or any other aspect of 'MB 2025' were ever even discussed, let alone approved by the MB City Council, and proper process was therefore entirely averted in identifying this forum as a *city* event. Now, before any 'MB 2025' proponents go on the attack, this comment has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of this forum's content or the hard work of the volunteer organizers, but has everything to do with the huge potential for significant community damage when just a few city officials, both elected and appointed, grossly overstep their bounds. (I happen to be a lifelong conservationist who values very few things more than such environmental concerns -- but one thing I do value equally is proper and ethical governance. Those who may mistake this message as one that threatens the focus of this forum would assuredly be amongst the first and loudest to object if, say, we had a Mayor who similarly chose, on his/her own, to get out in front of a similarly organized "city" forum on kicking off the ambitious new "city goal", never discussed by our City Council, of, say ... drilling for oil ... or building a new gas-fired power plant.) ;-)


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