‘A milestone’: South Lake Tahoe adopts ambitious energy plan

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The city of South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday became the first city in the country to adopt a community-wide goal of achieving 100% renewable, carbon-free electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week by 2030.

The City Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting this goal and providing direction to become only the third city in the United States to join the United Nations 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy Compact.

Similar resolutions have been adopted by corporations and municipalities. Google, Inc. has committed to achieving the goal of powering their operations on a region-specific, 24/7 basis with zero-carbon energy by 2030.

Des Moines, Iowa adopted a resolution earlier this year, committing to a community-wide goal of achieving 100% electricity from carbon- free sources, 24/7, by 2035.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District also adopted a plan this year to power all of their operations with zero-carbon sources by 2030. South Lake Tahoe now has the most ambitious goal for a municipality in the nation, matching the timelines of Google and SMUD.

In September 2021, the UN assembled the 24/7 CFE, which brings together a diverse group of stakeholders, and includes only two municipalities. South Lake Tahoe will be the third city (following Ithaca, New York and Des Moines) to join the 24/7 CFE. The compact seeks to accelerate the decarbonization of electricity grids and achieve net-zero emissions economies.

“By joining the 24/7 CFE Compact, South Lake Tahoe has committed to be a leader in renewable energy policy adoption,” said Councilman John Friedrich. “I encourage my council colleagues throughout California and nationwide to join us in taking the bold steps necessary to tackle climate change for our children and grandchildren.”

“Today is a milestone in the history of South Lake Tahoe,” said Devin Middlebrook who was elected mayor during the meeting. “Passing this resolution and working diligently toward 100% carbon-free electricity 24/7 by 2030 has never been more important. On the heels of the devastating Caldor Fire that significantly impacted the Tahoe Basin, the escalating implications of climate change are undeniable. This represents the bold, urgent action that our community needs.”

The Dec. 7 resolution reaches beyond the goals set in the city’s resolution in 2017, committing to reaching 100% carbon-free electricity at all times by 2030 instead of by 2032.

In addition, the specification of the sourcing of the energy and the 24/7 availability of energy from carbon-free sources are key distinctions. Rather than a goal of carbon neutrality, wherein credits may be purchased to offset local emissions, this resolution sets a goal of 100% decarbonization of the grid. Fundamentally, every kilowatt-hour of electricity demand would be served by carbon-free electricity sources, at every hour of every day from sources connected to the local distribution grid.

With the adoption of the resolution and by joining the UN’s 24/7 CFE, the city commits to exploring a suite of local, renewable energy options.

“As the city manager, it is exciting to have the opportunity to work on such an important goal,” said Joe Irvin. “I look forward to working with our partners and the City Council on our journey toward 100% renewable, carbon-free electricity 24/7 by 2030.”

Carbon-free, renewable energy sources include, but are not limited to, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower. Exclusively using these energy sources at all times would eliminate the emission of carbon generated from South Lake Tahoe’s electricity supply altogether, rather than compensating for emissions through carbon offsetting.

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