City Council pledges to operate on 100 percent renewable energy by 2035

City Council pledges to operate on 100 percent renewable energy by 2035
Posted at 5:00 AM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-10 09:09:21-05

CINCINNATI -- With a resolution passed last week, City Council made Cincinnati the 100th U.S. city to pledge to neutralize its carbon footprint by 2035. 

The resolution marked a major milestone for the Sierra Club, a national environmental group, and "put a bow on a lot of things the city had already been doing," according to the club's Ohio chapter.

Mayor John Cranley introduced the resolution -- which does not carry the weight of law, but rather is a written statement of intent -- and said, by adopting it, city council is "committing to something we're already trying to do, but going on the record."

Cranley described the goal as going "carbon neutral."

Read the full resolution below.

The resolution promises that "all of the City-owned and operated facilities and fleets" will transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy sources over the next 17 years. It also pledges "to ensure that 100 percent of the electricity consumed by residents and businesses within the city shall be generated by clean, renewable sources such as solar and wind."

Council's vote Wednesday made Cincinnati the 100th city in the nation, as well as the second city in Ohio after Cleveland, to pass such a resolution.

Democrats Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman, David Mann, Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld and Wendell Young voted in favor of the resolution. Republicans Amy Murray and Jeff Pastor abstained. Independent Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman was absent from Wednesday's meeting.

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It remains unclear what realizing this pledge would cost taxpayers. WCPO reached out to Cranley's office as well as the city's Office of Environment and Sustainability, and is awaiting a reply.

Figuring out practical details like cost comes next, said Nathan Alley, conservation policy coordinator for the Sierra Club's Ohio Chapter.

"This is the kind of thing that gives the Office of Environment and Sustainability room to work," he said. In addition to his work at the Sierra Club, Alley also sits on the city's Environmental Advisory Council.

"This serves as a mandate," he added. "We don't want to just say 'no' to coal. We want to say 'yes' to solar, and here's how to do it."

Alley has worked with Cranley and the OES for the better part of two years on behalf of the environmental organization's Ready for 100 campaign. In 2016, the club set out to convince 100 cities to sign resolutions like what City Council passed last week.  

"That’s a really important milestone," Alley said. "Having 100 (cities) by the end of 2018 was the goal."

Cincinnati's commitment is a bit more aspirational than what the Sierra Club initially asked -- 100-percent reliance on clean, renewable energy by 2050.

And for good reason.

"Cincinnati, of course, has really serious issues with air quality," Alley said. Cincinnati ranks among the worst U.S. cities for year-round particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association, and has a high rate of asthma incidents, especially among children

Wednesday's resolution arrived after a growing list of efforts made at City Hall to transition away from coal and natural gas as energy sources toward more sustainable systems.

Cranley made a similar commitment in 2018 when he signed the "Mayors for 100 Percent Clean Energy Pledge," and the city this year committed to building a 25-megawatt solar energy facility which would power 25 percent of city facilities' energy needs.

Bloomberg Philanthropies in November awarded the city a $2.5 million American Cities Climate Challenge grant. The city also sits on the cusp of becoming the country's newest "2030 district" -- a designation awarded to cities where a certain percentage of property owners commit to reducing energy and water consumption and transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030.

Cranley, along with Council and the OES, adopted the Green Cincinnati Plan in May.

Site Selection magazine in July named Cincinnati the country's "most sustainable" city.

12-5-18 City Renewable Energy Resolution by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter (@pat_laFleur) and on Facebook.