Guest column: 100 percent renewable energy resolutions
In 2017, mountain communities across the Sierra committed to 100 percent renewable energy.
On April 18 and Nov. 28, respectively, the South Lake Tahoe City Council and the Truckee Town Council unanimously passed resolutions to transition their communities to 100 percent renewable electricity and energy. The deadlines for renewable electricity are 2032 and 2030, respectively, and the deadline for renewable energy is 2050 for both towns.
With these resolutions, South Lake Tahoe and Truckee became the 26th and 50th communities in the country to embrace the transition to renewable energy.
With over 50 towns and cities nationwide committed to 100 percent renewables, it is significant that two of those locations are found within California’s 4th congressional district. Nearby Nevada City, in CA-01, made the same commitment in August, for a total of three Sierra communities that will soon be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
Why are small towns in the mountains and foothills of Northern California leading the nation on clean energy? It could be that as we watched fire seasons rage longer and stronger, and extreme drought one year become extreme flooding the next, we came together and realized that we needed to act.
This action began as conversations among residents who wanted to help their communities plan for the future. We thought that our governments could do better by their residents, and we didn’t want to wait any longer.
After a handful of meetings and some persistent work by a dedicated group, we were meeting with city and town officials, drafting resolutions, and working to build widespread support in the community. Our respective councils passed renewable energy resolutions less than six months after the South Lake Tahoe and Truckee 100% Renewable groups first convened.
The 100-percent commitment is about more than just renewable electricity — it’s also about jobs. Right now, solar jobs are growing 17 times as fast as the U.S. economy, according to an annual report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, and solar employs more people in the U.S. electricity generation sector than oil, coal and gas combined, according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Energy. This growth will only expand as we fight against regulations slowing the growth of the renewable energy transformation.
This commitment also is about safety and security for your family. Think about the images we saw from Texas or Florida after their devastating hurricanes, showing people stuck, without power and completely reliant on the government for help.
Communities that embrace the 100 percent renewable electricity movement are more resilient in the face of natural disasters. Renewable energy is a key factor in keeping the lights on and vehicle fleets moving.
While we are committing locally to 100 percent renewable energy, we must also ask if our elected congressional representatives reflect our values. Before you enter the voting booth in 2018, here are some questions you should ask: Does your congressional representative support the growth of renewable energy jobs and the safety/security benefits they bring? Or does your member of Congress support regulations, taxes and tariffs that slow the growth of renewable energy and jobs?
If our member of Congress does not share the priorities of the communities in our district, then we must move forward with someone who does.
When our towns came together for renewable energy, we made an investment in the places we call home. Renewable energy poses one of the greatest localized job creation opportunities of this generation, while also helping to protect our families. And if we are going to succeed in lowering our carbon footprint and combating climate change, we need to transition to renewable energy now.
In 2018, with your help, your city can be the next to commit to 100 percent renewable energy. Do not let fear or uncertainty derail a critical opportunity for your community. We are here to help you realize this goal — all you have to do is reach out, and we can show you how to get started.
The only thing standing between your town and 100 percent renewable energy is the first step. Let’s take it together.
Nick Exline is chair of the SLT 100% Renewable Committee. Erin de Lafontaine is co-chair of the Truckee 100% Renewable Committee. Emily Blackmer is with the Truckee 100% Renewable Committee.