All electricity used in Atlanta to be generated from renewables by 2035, says Atlanta City Council

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect new language about Georgia Power’s posture on renewable energy.

By David Pendered

The Atlanta City Council has resolved that all the electricity used in the city shall be generated through renewable resources by 2035. Advocates said the victory sets the stage for a push to bring the issue of clean energy for transportation into this year’s city elections.

solar roadway

Innovative methods of generating solar power include this roadway in front of the building. The roadis covered with non-skid solar panels in a technology intended to increase the productivity of paved surfaces by generating solar power. File/Credit:

The non-binding resolution introduced by Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall doesn’t mince words. Hall is an announced candidate for mayor in this year’s election. The resolution concludes:

  • “NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA, HEREBY RESOLVES, that One Hundred Percent (100%) of electricity consumed in the City of Atlanta shall be generated through renewable energy resources and associated technologies by 2035.”

The resolution defines renewable energy as, “energy derived from wind, solar, existing and low- impact hydroelectric, geothermal, biogas, and wave technology sources.” The council passed it by unanimous vote at its meeting Monday.

In a statement, Hall said:

  • “We know that moving to clean energy will create good jobs, clean up our air and water and lower our residents’ utility bills. We never thought we’d be away from landline phones or desktop computers, but today we carry our smart phones around and they’re more powerful than anything we used to have. We have to set an ambitious goal or we’re never going to get there.”
Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall

Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall

Jennette Gayer, director of Environment Georgia, on Tuesday heralded the passage of the resolution. Gayer said transportation is the next target for environmentalists in Atlanta.

“Electricity is clearly half the pie, and the next is transportation,” Gayer said. “It’s the trickier part because, how do we get people out of their gas guzzlers?

“I think this will be something that we’ll certainly be looking for mayoral candidates and those running for the city council to address in the campaign,” Gayer said. “Transportation is something we’ll work on with the next administration.”

Hall’s legislation recognizes Georgia Power’s efforts to produce more electricity through renewable resources:

  • “WHEREAS, more than 24 percent of Georgia Power’s current electricity comes from emission-free energy production including nuclear and renewables, in which Georgia Power has become a recognized leader in bringing cost-effective solar and wind resources to our state….”

The local economy and environment will benefit from the effort, according to the resolution:

  • “[T]he City’s commitment to 100% clean energy will create good local jobs for Atlanta residents, reduce air pollution and associated public health risks, reduce the strain on water resources and save consumers money.”
Solar Facility, Southern and Turner Enterprises

Solar power is generated at this California facility where 80,000 solar modules have been installed by a venture that involves subsidiaries of Georgia Power’s parent, Southern Co., and Turner Enterprises. File/Credit:

The legislation calls on Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability to complete, by January 2018, a report that sets priorities to create a priority list for addressing sustainability issues.

Topics of the study are to include weatherization, cogeneration, district heating and cooling, decentralized electricity generation and smart grids/microgrids, the use of industrial waste heat, building controls, automated lighting, solar-powered hot water heaters and programs that create an energy-saving culture, according to the statement.

Gayer said the only other city in the Southeast to have a similar vision is St. Petersburg, Fl.

Gayer noted that Environment Georgia convened a meeting at Georgia Tech in August 2016 to discuss the issue of 100 percent clean energy in Georgia. At that time, Environment Georgia released a position paper issued by its affiliate, Environment America, titled: We have the Power: 100 percent Renewable Energy for a Clean, Thriving America.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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