The Phoenix Flyer

Gainesville becomes the 5th city in Florida to commit to 100% clean energy future

By: - October 23, 2018 1:18 pm
Sierra Club photo

The Gainesville City Commission has voted unanimously to become the latest Florida city to commit to 100 percent renewable electricity sources – though not until 2045.

The resolution is nonbinding, meaning it’s not mandated – but it’s a goal and a start.

The city, home of the University of Florida, currently uses an average of 27 percent renewable resources. Those kinds of resources include solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectric plants – not fossil fuels or coal.

Previously, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Largo are the other Florida cities to commit to such a goal.

And there are now more than 80 cities and two states (Hawaii and California) nationwide that have committed to such a goal, spurred by the need to try to combat climate change.

“By passing this resolution, the city is declaring its intention to move away from a dirty fossil fuel economy to one based on clean energy innovation,” says Roberta Gastmeyer, a member of the Suwannee- St. Johns Group of the Sierra Club Executive Committee and chair of the Gainesville Ready for 100 Action Coalition.

“We are excited by the opportunity to work with Gainesville’s excellent Utility Advisory Board to ensure all residents will benefit from this transition, which will provide a healthier, more equitable, and more resilient community,” Gastmeyer said in a news release.

There are a handful of U.S. cities that already are fueled completely by renewable energy sources. The first, in 2015, was in Burlington, Vermont. That city draws its power from a hydroelectric plant, four wind turbines and a massive array of solar panels at their airport.

Aspen, Colorado also achieved that goal in 2015 with a mix of 50 percent wind, 45 percent hydropower and the remaining five percent from solar and landfill gas.

The resolution passed by the Gainesville City Commission reads that “the City Commission also recognizes that emission reductions accomplished sooner are more important and valuable for our city’s climate protection efforts.”

In a follow-up email, Gastmeyer says that her organization would “definitely” like to see Gainesville transition to a clean energy future sooner than 2045, and thinks its possible.

“We recognize there are financial and technological obstacles, but setting an overall goal date at least gets us pointed in the right direction and in a position to take advantage of new technology and potential state/federal policy changes,”she writes. “Over the next year, as we work on the transition plan, we will have a better idea of intermediate target dates.”

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.