Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tallahassee Commits to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy, Zero Emission Electric Transportation

Florida’s capital city joins movement across Sunshine State for all-renewable energy. 

Wednesday evening, February 20, 2019, the City of Tallahassee established a goal to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy across the community by 2050, further demonstrating the Sunshine State’s leadership in moving toward renewable energy, like solar. Coverage of this milestone event was quite substantial, with stories published by the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida PhoenixWFSU (picked up in Jacksonville by WJCT), WXTL, WCTV, and national publications Solar Industry, North American Windpower, Windpower Engineering and Development and Innovators Magazine

The Tallahassee City Commission unanimously approved a resolution establishing a goal of powering municipal operations entirely with renewable sources (like wind and solar) by 2035, and community-wide by 2050. Tallahassee becomes the seventh city in Florida, and the 108th city in the nation, to commit to powering itself with 100 percent clean, renewable energy.

In addition to committing to transform its energy system, the City Commission's resolution also includes commitments for:
  1. Shifting City light duty vehicles to 100% electric no later than 2035.
  2. Shifting StarMetro fixed route buses to 100% electric no later than 2035.
  3. The remainder of the City’s vehicle fleet will move to all electric as the technology becomes available for reliable service delivery.   
The City Commission recently placed an order with electric bus manufacturer Proterra for 22 new zero emission electric buses, which upon delivery will create a transit fleet that's fully 1/3 electric.  Thanks for this groundbreaking commitment go to many, not the least of which being the administration of Florida State University's Seminole Express Bus Service, which asked for all electric bus service for FSU students as a condition for continuing to provide half of the city transit agency's support. Thanks also go to our local Sierra Club Big Bend Group Chair Grant Gelhardt, who advocated for these goals for 100% electric fleet and transit vehicles.

1 of StarMetro's original 4 electric buses,
soon to be joined by 22 more 
Tallahassee, Florida's leader in electric transit since acquiring its first 4 electric buses 7 years ago, can now easily attain this new 100% goal through routine vehicle replacement.

As the owner of its own municipal utility -- and as Florida’s capital -- Tallahassee can serve as an example for the state with its vision for 100 percent clean, renewable energy. Under then Mayor Andrew Gillum's leadership, the City broke ground in May 2017 on its first 20 mw farm. 

“We commend the City for taking this step. The goals set forth in this resolution will take Tallahassee into the solar age, making Tallahassee truly the Capital of the Sunshine State. This goal would not only put the City as a leader in Florida, but put Tallahassee among the leaders in the nation in sustainability and conversion to 100 percent renewable energy,” said Grant Gelhardt, Chair of the local Sierra Club Big Bend Group.
2017 solar farm groundbreaking

“We’re excited to see this resolution passed! It has been a process of building consensus amongst several organizations and individuals who have come together out of concern for our community and our Earth. We are glad to have reached agreement on the resolution language with the city staff and commissioners. Climate change is here, and the actions we take today as a community will help mitigate the severe consequences that are predicted in the future. We look forward to continuing to build coalition and educate and engage all sectors of the community as the plan develops,” said Kim Ross, Executive Director of ReThink Florida and convener of the Tally35 coalition.

Clean Energy for All supporters from the Tally35 coalition
join Big Bend Sierra Club and Tallahassee City Commissioners
in celebrating this milestone achievement. 
“Florida communities are ready to move away from dirty fuels toward a solar-powered future. We know firsthand that climate change won’t wait -- it’s time to take bold action now. Tallahassee’s 100 percent renewable energy commitment signals our entire state’s value for building an energy economy that works for everyone. The Sierra Club looks forward to working with the City Commission, power providers, and the entire community to ensure implementation of our goal lifts up all residents -- especially the most vulnerable members of our city,” said Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Representative with the Florida Sierra Club.

The six other cities across Florida now working towards their own 100 percent clean energy goals are Dunedin, Gainesville, Largo, Orlando, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota. Here's a list, including Tallahassee, of all 108 U.S. Ready for 100 cities to date. 

Numerous organizations worked to achieve this milestone commitment by Florida’s capital city including the Sierra Club Big Bend Group, as well as members of the Tally35 coalition: ReThink Energy Florida, ReThink Energy Action Fund, Democratic Environmental Caucus of Leon County, Citizens for a Sustainable Future, St. Paul’s Creation Care, First Presbyterian Church, For Our Future Fund, and the Tallahassee Food Network. Our thanks go to them all for creating this most important model of leadership for our state. 

Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Representative
Sierra Club's FL Healthy Air & Ready for 100 Campaigns:
Clean Energy & Clean Transportation for All 
1990 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(o) 727-824-8813, ext. 303      (c) 813-841-3601