The Californian city of Palo Alto has this week committed to using 100 per cent renewable electricity after its council voted in favour of making the move – effective immediately – on Monday
With hydro-electric sources supplying 50 per cent of its electricity, Palo Alto’s Utilities Department says the city is one of the few entities worldwide who can already claim to be purchasing completely carbon-neutral electricity, with the remainder coming from wind farms, solar arrays, and renewable gas captured from landfills.
If Palo Alto’s entire electric needs can’t be supplied by renewable sources, City Utilities will buy non-renewable power with renewable energy certificates (RECs). And all at an estimated added cost to homeowners’ bills of less than $US3 per year.
Meanwhile, rooftop PV is also thriving in the city, where, as John Farrell noted last week, abundant sunshine and high uptake rates have helped to deliver unsubsidised grid parity for Palo Altan households wanting to go solar.
“Palo Alto has been a leader in reducing its carbon emissions,“ Mayor Greg Scharff said of the decision – the city first established its Climate Action Plan in 2007, setting goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sources.
“When we realized we could achieve a carbon neutral electric supply right now, we were compelled to take action,” Scharff added. “Climate change is one of the critical challenges of our generation and we hope our actions will inspire others to follow suit.”
But, as PaloAltoPatch notes, being the owner of all of its energy utilities has given the city an advantage in the low-carbon stakes – the autonomy to make decisions based strictly on the best interests of Palo Altans, without worrying about shareholders.
“As a City, we’ve had cheaper, greener power for our citizens for decades, and being able to make this recent move to 100% carbon-free electricity is just another example of how owning our own utilities pays off,” said City Manager James Keene.
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