By Will Driscoll:
Virginia’s cities and counties can get a free price estimate for renewable electricity for their government buildings, just by reporting their annual electric bill to the Boston mayor’s office.
Without obligation, they can evaluate the path blazed by Chicago, which has committed to power its 900 municipal buildings with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025, and has joined a seven-city collaboration to request price estimates for renewable electricity. The collaboration, led by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, also includes Los Angeles, Houston, Portland, OR, Orlando, FL, and Evanston, IL.
The cities expect to issue a single request for information (RFI) to renewable developers later this summer. Mayor Walsh, who co-chairs the Climate Mayors network of more than 400 cities, has invited other cities to join in the RFI by submitting their “energy demand data.” Boston “continues to have ongoing conversations with cities that are highly interested in joining the initiative,” said Lauren Zingarelli of the mayor’s press office.
Most city-owned buildings are schools, and both Chicago and Boston will include schools’ use of electricity in the RFI. Boston’s mayor did not commit to meeting any given percentage of city government’s electricity demand with renewables, and did not ask other cities to make such a commitment.
Mayor Walsh highlighted benefits of the initiative including helping meet the Paris Agreement on climate and creating clean energy jobs. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said “we can show the world that environmental stewardship and economic prosperity go hand in hand.” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner noted that Houston is the “largest municipal user of renewable energy in the nation.” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke of “bringing our significant purchasing power to bear in the transition to a clean energy economy.”
Separately, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is researching the potential for converting to 100 percent renewable electricity; a study funded by a nonprofit group found that doing so would have zero net cost.