FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 9, 2016 Contact: Emily Gorman, email@example.com, (239) 821-3517
USF St. Petersburg, City of St. Petersburg Launch New Renewable Energy Initiatives
USFSP Unveils Climate Action Plan, Investments in solar energy
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman today joined USF St. Petersburg Chancellor Dr. Sophia Wisniewska to announce the launch of several new energy initiatives that will expand renewable energy and elevate the Sunshine City’s reputation as a leader in sustainability.
On November 21, the St. Petersburg City Council voted unanimously to dedicate $800K of its BP settlement funds toward modeling vulnerabilities to sea-level rise, energy analyses and efficiency retrofits for city facilities and, perhaps most importantly, creating an Integrated Sustainability Action Plan (ISAP) that will in part chart a roadmap to 100% renewable energy for the entire community. St. Petersburg is the 20th city in the United States and the first in Florida to make a commitment to 100% clean, renewable energy.
“This is the most robust, comprehensive climate planning initiative St. Petersburg has ever undertaken,” said Mayor Kriseman. “Working towards 100% clean energy and zero waste is just one way we continue to build our city of opportunity where the sun shines on all who come to live, work and play.”
USF St. Petersburg Chancellor Wisniewska also unveiled the University's inaugural Climate Action Plan. Developed in collaboration with the Center for Climate Strategies over the last three years, the Climate Action Plan is a set of strategies to reduce emissions by 50% before 2035 and to achieve full carbon-neutrality by 2050.
“A respect for our environment is among the core values stated in USFSP’s Vision 20/20 Strategic Plan,” said Chancellor Wisniewska. “We take seriously our commitment to become carbon neutral.”
USFSP also announced a $125K investment in a new solar carport to be built directly South of the new College of Business building on 4th Street. The project is designed to provide power to the surrounding buildings and will contribute to the University’s goal of installing 500kW of renewable energy production by 2020.
This announcement comes on the heels of Governor Scott’s emergency rule that establishes new requirements for public notification of pollution incidents, like the recent sewage spills in Pinellas County. St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay have been identified as among the most vulnerable places to rising sea levels as a result of climate change. When combined with exposure to tropical weather events, economic interruptions like floods, sewage spills and power outages are projected to increase in frequency and severity.
The ISAP is a comprehensive strategy to achieve the City’s sustainability and resilience goals, including avoiding floods and sewage spills, hardening against wind damage and power outages, reducing energy costs and waterfront property insurance rates, and transitioning to a 100% clean energy system. In addition, the ISAP will aim to promote job creation, stimulate private investment, and generally enhance the City’s economic development. In responding to environmental vulnerabilities, the City and University are creating economic opportunities as well.
“There is no cavalry left. We are the cavalry,” said St. Petersburg City Council Vice-Chair Darden Rice in an interview with ThinkProgress. “It’s left up to cities to be the innovators, to be the agents of change, and to do it in a practical way.”
“Today’s joint announcement is an impressive first by St. Petersburg’s most prominent public institutions to respond to the greatest threats to our community, while creating new opportunities for all people in our region. Suncoast Sierra Club is proud to collaborate with the City and University to support these initiatives and believes that community collaboration in the climate action and 100% clean energy planning process is an opportunity to improve equity and unity in the City,” said Emily Gorman, Co-Manager for the Suncoast Sierra Club’s Ready for 100% St. Pete campaign.
ABOUT SUNCOAST SIERRA CLUB: St. Petersburg is one of the first cities in the nation to join Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 national campaign, aimed at leveraging the power of cities to catalyze a national transition toward renewable energy. Suncoast Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental group comprised of 3,000+ member and 15,000+ supporters. Ready for 100% St. Pete develops residential and commercial pilot programs with partner organizations and raises public awareness of clean energy and climate planning. Visit SuncoastSierra.org or check out our Quick Facts.