South Lake Tahoe may pass most ambitious renewable energy plan in country

Staff Report


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — City Council next week may pass the most ambitious renewable energy plan of any municipality in the United States.

The council on Tuesday during its regular meeting may approve resolution 100/24/7 that would commit the city to using 100% renewable, carbon free electricity, 24/7, by 2030.

“If the resolution is adopted to have all of our electricity from renewable energy sources, 24/7, the city will have the most ambitious renewable energy commitment of any municipal government in the country,” said City Councilman John Friedrich in an editorial printed Friday in the Tribune.

Similar resolutions have been adopted by corporations and other municipalities but none plan to support carbon-free electricity in the next nine years.

According to a city staff report, in December 2016, Google committed to achieving the goal of powering their operations on a region-specific, 24/7 basis, with zero-carbon energy by 2030. The city of Des Moines, in Iowa, adopted a resolution earlier this year, committing to a community-wide goal of achieving 100% electricity from carbon-free sources by 2035.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District adopted a plan this year to power all of their operations with zero carbon sources by 2030.

The proposed resolution for South Lake Tahoe, if adopted, would be the most ambitious goal for a municipality in the nation, matching the timelines of Google and SMUD but covering the entire community instead of just the city’s own operations.

It reaches beyond the goals set in a previous resolution in 2017, committing to reaching 100% carbon-free electricity at all times by 2030 instead of 2032.

“The specification of the sourcing of the energy and the 24/7 availability of energy from carbon-free sources are key distinctions,” said the report. “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, this means that every kilowatt-hour of electricity demand would be served by carbon-free electricity sources, at every hour of every day.”

With the adoption of the resolution, the city would commit to exploring local, renewable energy options while aspiring to meet the goals.

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.

The city said the resolution will require significant financial resources which could come from several sources, including federal and state grants, utility expenditures, project developer financing, and capital improvement projects.

Investments in energy efficiency and customer-owned renewable energy projects save money over time, and with declining costs of renewable energy often has a short payback period, said the report.

If council adopts the resolution, South Lake Tahoe would be the third municipality (following Ithaca, New York and Des Moines) to join 24/7 CFE.

Also on the agenda, council may pass a motion approving rate increases for garbage collection. The South Tahoe Refuse rate hikes would be $1.56 per month for residential customers and $1.85 per cubic yard for commercial customers.

Council may also approve amendments to the STR franchise agreement and allow for Clean Tahoe, a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the environment through proper litter and trash management, to become a subcontractor for litter abatement, debris, and illegal dumping cleanup services.

Council may also provide direction on whether to pursue becoming a charter city.

At its meeting in June 2019, council received a presentation on the costs and benefits and at the time decided not to pursue, but formed a committee and ask to revisit the idea.

City Attorney Heather Stroud is asking council to provide direction if the members want to start the process, how they would like to go about it and the most important affairs the council wants to address.

The meeting will take place at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, inside council chambers at City Hall located at 1901 Lisa Maloff Way.

The meeting will also be streamed on channel 21, the city’s website and Facebook page and via Zoom.

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