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«Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up Profiles in City-Led Energy Innovation New Energy Cities Accelerating Community-Led Clean Energy ...»

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Powering the New Energy Future

from the Ground Up

Profiles in City-Led Energy Innovation

New Energy Cities

Accelerating Community-Led Clean Energy Innovation in the Northwest

A project of Climate Solutions

Powering the New Energy Future

from the Ground Up

Profiles in City-Led Energy Innovation

July 2012

Authors: Eileen V. Quigley, New Energy Cities Program Director

Elizabeth Willmott, New Energy Cities Project Manager

Editors: Thomas Osdoba, Tao Strategies

Rhys Roth, Director of Strategic Innovation, Climate Solutions Kimberly Larson, Director of Communications and Marketing, Climate Solutions Research Assistance: Erin Derrington, New Energy Cities Intern Copyeditor: Deborah Kolp, Copyeditor Designer: Suzanne Malakoff, Communications Specialist, Climate Solutions New Energy Cities A project of Climate Solutions newenergycities.org ▪ contact@newenergycities.org ©2012 Climate Solu ons ▪ climatesolu ons.org Table of Contents Acknowledgments



Key Findings

Community Profiles Babylon, New York

Bainbridge Island, Washington

Bellingham, Washington

Boulder, Colorado

Eugene, Oregon

Fort Collins, Colorado

Hailey, Idaho

Jackson, Wyoming

Knoxville, Tennessee

Oberlin, Ohio

Community Projects Bedford, New York

Bremerton, Washington

Burlington, Vermont

Gainesville, Florida

Hillsboro, Oregon

Issaquah, Washington

Madison, Wisconsin

Pendleton, Oregon

Salt Lake City, Utah

Santa Fe, New Mexico

West Union, Iowa

Williamson, West Virginia

Cities to Watch





Photo Credits


Cover Photo Credit: A net-zero townhome community in Issaquah, Washington, considered to be the first of its kind in the United States.

3 | Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up: Profiles in City-Led Energy Innovation Acknowledgments The New Energy Cities team would like to thank the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for its generous support, without which this project would not have been possible.

The following individuals provided invaluable guidance during the development of this

project and we gratefully acknowledge their assistance:

–  –  –

He also championed the 1970 National Land Use Policy Act, which envisioned a national land use system in which all levels of government coordinated efforts to develop or conserve land. Although the Act never became law, many environmentalists regard it as visionary today, and its provisions have guided the development of land planning and management approaches emphasizing the importance of coordination across sectors.

On the centennial anniversary of Senator Jackson’s birth, we find ourselves facing a new set of environmental challenges, in particular the threat of global climate change and the difficulty of fostering economic prosperity in a manner that poses no threat to future generations.

With current federal and state policy progress on climate stalled, local communities must step up to help build a clean energy economy from the ground up. This is why Climate Solutions and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation partnered to produce a series of compelling profiles of energy innovation in small- and medium-sized communities nationwide.

We hope that the lessons learned and featured here will serve as examples for other cities throughout the country and will help them access best practices, find expertise, tap resources, and share knowledge with their peers.

~Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director, Henry M. Jackson Foundation 5 | Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up: Profiles in City-Led Energy Innovation Introduction In 2009, Climate Solutions launched the New Energy Cities program to catalyze clean energy innovation in small- to medium-sized Northwest communities. As a nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate practical and profitable solutions to global warming, Climate Solutions sees city-led innovation as crucial, not only to build a robust clean energy economy in the Northwest region, but also to create models for other communities throughout the nation.

At the same time, the federal government was in the process of making the largest clean energy investment in American history through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: more than $80 billion granted or loaned to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs across the country.1 This funding included an unprecedented $3.2 billion in the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program, which the Department of Energy allocated to cities and counties around the country for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.2 The EECBG program also laid the groundwork for the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings3 initiative, launched in 2010 to dramatically improve energy efficiency in the country’s built environment.

In parallel, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $20 million in competitive grants in 2009 and 2010 to help local and tribal governments establish and implement climate change initiatives.4 The EPA selected 50 communities to implement projects that would serve as replicable models of cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across sectors.

Meanwhile, Congress was debating passage of a comprehensive energy bill that would have charged power plants, oil companies, and other large polluters for heat-trapping carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. On July 22, 2010, after more than a year of legislative wrangling, the US Senate abandoned this effort. With federal policy progress on climate stalled, the efforts of communities to execute and scale up local energy projects became all the more critical.

In the fall of 2010, with the goal of examining how this local work could move forward in the absence of national policy, the Seattle, Washington-based Henry M. Jackson Foundation asked the New Energy Cities team to examine the successes and lessons learned in energy programs of cities with populations under 250,000. This research included those who had received federal clean energy funding, as well as others who were innovating without federal assistance.

To date, large cities from New York City to Los Angeles have stolen the headlines with major announcements about dramatic investments and worldwide partnerships that advance clean energy solutions and address greenhouse gas emissions. While these efforts are indeed critical to scaling the clean energy economy, small- and medium-sized jurisdictions also possess the power to nurture clean energy economic development. They can also often execute with a degree of speed and decisiveness that sometimes eludes larger cities.

While their efforts do not usually make headlines beyond their local news outlets, small- and medium-sized cities are stepping up with real results. It is in these living laboratories of innovation that we see the next generation of solutions for the clean energy economy in buildings, transportation, and waste management. These communities have the political leadership, an energized citizenry, receptive utilities, and capable business communities that are working together to build the new energy future from the ground up.

Real innovation is rare, because it is challenging and risky. But cities and towns not yet ready to take entrepreneurial leaps are nonetheless making important changes by using their bully pulpits, planning authorities, and purchasing power to galvanize their communities and move local markets.

They are making slow and steady progress that will ultimately result in the full transformation of our built environment and transportation system away from fossil fuel dependency.

6 | Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up: Profiles in City-Led Energy Innovation Key Findings The New Energy Cities team notes a number of findings among the examples of city-led clean energy innovation detailed in Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up.

Overarching Themes First, cities are making proactive use of their authorities in land use and building oversight, transportation, and waste management to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These efforts are not limited to regulation and, in fact, often reflect incentives for voluntary action.

Second, cities are maximizing their community-wide impact through partnerships with utilities, businesses, workforce organizations, educational institutions, nonprofit groups, and citizens. In particular, the importance of utility partnerships cannot be overstated. Utilities offer significant resources: market expertise, data collection and analysis, incentives, and deployment of advanced technologies. These approaches provide real-time feedback on energy use and tools such as timeof-day pricing that can drive changes in energy consumption.

Third, federal investments beginning in 2009 catalyzed clean energy innovation and enabled pilot adoption of various models for energy efficiency retrofit programs and renewable energy development. This funding made a significant impact on small- to medium-sized communities nationwide and will likely yield dividends in years to come.

Finally, cities and their local partners are developing long-term strategies that will survive after federal grants have ended. Some developed innovative financing strategies in the absence of grant money altogether.

Clean Energy Innovations

The 22 communities profiled in this report demonstrated specific innovations in the following areas:

▪ Partnerships that Leverage Existing Capacity ▪ Catalytic Projects for Long-Term Change ▪ Focus on Job Creation and Economic Development ▪ Goal-Setting and Quantitative Analysis in Support of Specific Goals ▪ Ambitious Requirements for the Building Sector ▪ Incentives and Voluntary Programs ▪ Innovative Financing ▪ Creative Community-Specific Outreach Partnerships that Leverage Existing Capacity Many cities were compelled to act quickly, both to meet tight federal grant timelines and to address urgent local concerns ranging from unemployment to poor air quality. They knew that they would have to be innovative, and they recognized the value of mobilizing local expertise and adapting existing programs in other communities. The vanguard cities started by enlisting people and institutions in their communities who already knew how to get the job done: utilities, energyrelated service companies, workforce development organizations, community groups, financial institutions, and other local experts.

▪ Jackson created a formal governance partnership between the town, the county, and the local utility to drive and oversee projects related to energy efficiency and clean energy.

▪ Bainbridge Island, Bedford, Bellingham, and others relied on utility resources, such as energy data and existing energy efficiency incentives.

▪ Utilities offered energy-tracking software (NYSERDA in Babylon and Bedford) and dashboards and social marketing tools for energy literacy and awareness (Puget Sound Energy), which enabled programs like RePower Bainbridge to give customers accurate and complete knowledge of energy use.

▪ Fort Collins partnered with its utility to test how renewable energy generated from the FortZED district could be integrated into peak-load reduction strategies.

▪ The municipally-run Gainesville Regional Utilities went beyond net-metering to implement a feed-in tariff for solar power, making it a world leader in per capita solar installations.

7 | Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up: Profiles in City-Led Energy Innovation Catalytic Projects for Long-Term Change A number of cities have designed projects to catalyze long-term regional change, requiring broad partnerships between and among cities, utilities, businesses, and community institutions.

▪ Fort Collins, Oberlin, and West Union pioneered advanced energy districts based on publicprivate partnerships and, in Oberlin’s case, an innovative collaboration between the town and Oberlin College.

▪ Fort Collins, Oberlin, and Issaquah are breaking new ground with the design and construction of net-zero buildings and districts.

▪ Nearby towns and villages have followed the lead of early adopters such as Babylon and Bedford in a “hyper-local” approach that uses pilot communities to inform longerterm regional program rollout.

▪ Williamson and the JOBS Project contributed to the convening of local and regional leaders from across central Appalachia to develop a regional strategy for sustainable economic development.

Focus on Job Creation and Economic Development Many cities forged new or deeper partnerships to advance the goals of job creation and economic development.

▪ Bainbridge, Bellingham, and Santa Fe formed partnerships with community colleges, workforce organizations, and community groups to align job training with expected job growth in targeted energy programs.

▪ Knoxville, West Union, Salt Lake City, and Williamson collaborated closely with local economic development institutions, the private sector, and nonprofits, retain businesses, galvanize community support, and spark clean energy economic development.

These efforts are nascent and must be scaled up in order to achieve meaningful economic impact.

Goal-Setting and Quantitative Analysis in Support of Specific Goals Over the past decade, cities around the United States set ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Several cities profiled in this report went the extra mile and did the quantitative analysis necessary to determine exactly how they could achieve those goals, broke the goals down into practical actions, embedded them into comprehensive land use and transportation plans, and used them to raise awareness in their communities.

Performance tracking and reporting were required to meet the terms of federal funding grants or other external partners. However, many communities also recognized the value of goal-setting as a tool for management, public awareness, and community organizing. The following communities

demonstrated best practices in these regards:

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