April 2018 Director’s Note

Wisconsin cities are beginning to leapfrog over their energy independent community goals of generating 25% renewable energy locally by 2025 to 100 percent renewable energy use by 2050. Madison, Eau Claire, Middleton and others are developing plans to become carbon neutral with a clean energy economy.

Eau Claire’s city council voted unanimously, in March 2018, on a resolution committing the city to reduce carbon emissions in increments, with the goal of being carbon neutral communitywide by 2050. The resolution calls for 100 percent renewable energy use by 2050 by both the municipality and community as a key means to achieving the greenhouse gas targets.

The report states, “The overall strategy will produce sustainable low-emission development and infrastructure, new jobs and improved resiliency from stressors to the community’s social, economic, and environmental assets. It is sensitive to current practices but seeks transformation. It places ENERGY at center stage; with greater local renewable generation, energy efficiency, and low-emitting transportation being adopted.” Xcel Energy, Eau Claire’s utility, provides the city with community energy reports to make it easier to track their community energy and sustainability goals

In March 2017, the Madison city council committed to update the carbon and energy goals in the 2011 Sustainable Madison Plan to 100 percent renewable energy city-wide starting with city operations and net zero carbon by an unspecified year. This was in response to changing science and technology around climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency. The City hired consultants to study the various routes to success with rates and dates, and budget estimates. Parts of their study are being rolled out for input currently including one finding that increasing renewable energy will have the greatest carbon reduction impact at least cost for city operations.

Representatives of both these municipalities and others will talk about measuring energy efficiency and 100 percent renewable energy policies at the Local Government Energy & Resilience Summit: Leading the Charge in Eau Claire April 23 & 24. Please join us.

Sherrie Gruder