- The San Diego City Council’s environment committee unanimously approved a proposed Climate Action Plan that would move the city to 100% renewables by 2035. It has been endorsed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and is expected to be passed by the full Council on December 15, the LA Times reports.
- The city’s renewables mandate significantly exceeds the state 50% renewables by 2050 mandate and matches mandates in place in San Francisco, San Jose, and Las Vegas. Burlington, Vermont and Aspen, Colorado have already reached 100% renewables operation.
- To get to 100%, the San Diego Climate Action Plan puts community choice aggregation (CCA) in place, allowing a nonprofit elected board, supported by energy experts, to take over resource procurement from San Diego Gas and Electric.
San Diego’s Action Plan lists key supporting measures, including a citywide CCA Feasibility Study that would set implementation timelines and project potential costs. The city would also need to begin implementing a net zero energy consumption plan with techniques for the construction and operation of green buildings.
San Diego would also need to implement specific supports for California’s Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program and set up and fund policies, programs, ordinances, and permitting for growing new onsite PV solar and energy storage systems, according to the plan.
Until recently, only exceptional circumstances could move a government to 100% renewables. The first U.S. municipality to get to 100% renewables was Greensburg, Kansas, in 2010. But that was because the city was wiped out by a tornado and rebuilt from its foundations. In 2015, Greensburg was joined by Aspen, Colorado, and Kodiak Island, Alaska.
Iceland, because of its enormous and readily-accessible geothermal resources, has been 100% since 1982. It was joined by Tokelau, New Zealand, in 2012, Carinthia, Austria, in 2013, and El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain, and Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in 2014.
A recent report from Clean Edge and SolarCity, the leading residential solar installer, identified five energy sector trends making 100% renewables possible, including plummeting prices for renewables and storage, net zero energy buildings, and utility grid modernization.
While the LA Times reports that passage of the 100% renewables plan is likely due to a strong coalition of supportive elected officials and business leaders, aspects could yet face criticism. Last week, clean energy activists in the city warned that SDG&E, the city's utility, is preparing to lobby against community choice aggregation, though the company says it simply wants to ensure "there’s a robust public discussion about what our energy future looks like."