Novato Pledges to Switch to 100 Percent Clean Energy by 2050

Novato has pledged to help its residents and businesses transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

“We’re putting a stake in the ground, saying we believe this is going to be our future,” said Gretchen Schubeck, the city’s sustainability coordinator.

The city recently became Marin’s first jurisdiction to take on the lofty goal of fully transitioning to renewable energy when it opted to join “Mayors for 100 Percent Clean Energy,” an initiative of the Sierra Club. The enterprise calls on mayors across the nation to support wind, solar and other clean energy approaches.

Mayor Densie Athas said the transition to renewable sources has multiple benefits for all.

“It will make us stronger, healthier and more resilient,” she said. “It will create jobs and new business opportunities, and it will help all of us to become a more equitable society where everyone has the opportunity in a thriving local economy. I am proud that Novato can be a leader in this worldwide effort.”

Council members unanimously voted earlier this month to join the nationwide initiative that has been endorsed by more than 150 mayors, including mayors of Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville, Daly City, Palo Alto and other Bay Area cities. San Jose, Palo Alto and other cities have adopted goals to switch fully to clean energy no later than 2035.

“We have an obligation to our children to take action on climate and ensure we have a healthy community and a sustainable economy,” Councilman Josh Fryday said in a written response. “Novato will show the benefits of leading on climate policy and taking local action and committing to 100 percent clean energy as an important step for our whole community.”

Athas initially brought the initiative to the city’s attention, Schubeck said. With the City Council voting in May to sign the city up for MCE’s “Deep Green” 100 percent renewable energy power option, it seemed like the next logical step, Schubeck said.

“And now the big task is, how do we get there?” she said. “But we’ve got time.”

There are no penalties for cities that do not reach their goal by the set date. Schubeck said it is a community-wide target that sets sustainability efforts in motion.

“This is an internal goal that we’ve set an intention to achieve that will help guide our work programs, particularly mine,” she said. “We’re looking for opportunities for projects like the Cooley Quarry (solar farm) in Novato, or the amazing solar array at the Buck Institute (for Research on Aging).”

Schubeck said the first steps in encouraging residents and business owners to adopt clean energy measures is suggesting a switch to MCE’s power options. “Deep Green” uses wind- and solar-powered energy. “ Light Green” uses a combination of wind, biomass, biowaste and solar. “Local Sol” uses supplies 300 customers with energy from the Cooley Quarry solar farm just outside northwest Novato.

“Even for the ‘Light Green’ option, I think, or ‘Deep Green,’ it’s only $4 more a month for the average family household. And the thing about MCE is that they’re committed to building and reinvesting in the community and looking for more sites like the Cooley Quarry and partnering with places like the Buck Institute to get more renewable sources online. That’s something people can do right now, is opt up or in.”

Novato Pledges to Switch to 100 Percent Clean Energy by 2050, by Stephanie Weldy, Marin Independent Journal, September 22, 2017.

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