For nearly a decade, the City of Fitchburg has been working toward a clean energy goal it set by joining a global agreement.
Tuesday, Feb. 26, the Common Council took another step by committing the city to meeting 100 percent of the its electric needs from renewable energy resources by 2030.
The resolution doesn’t define how the city would meet that goal, but rather stands as a declaration of intent to reduce its carbon footprint and investing in renewable energy sources.
The resolution also prioritizes the city halving its energy usage by the year 2050.
Alders unanimously approved the measure after little discussion.
“I think this a great initiative for the city,” Ald. Julia Arata-Fratta (Dist. 2) said.
Mayor Jason Gonzalez agreed.
“I think it’s a no-brainer,” he said.
In 2010, the city joined the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, committing to 25 percent renewable energy usage by 2025, retrofitting government buildings to hold solar arrays and designing them into new construction.
The city was also recognized as a solar-friendly community by the U.S. Department of Energy with a bronze level distinction.
Converting all city operations to clean energy would require more than just the buildings to be run off of renewable resources by 2030 – it would also include all vehicles be electric and powered by energy made from renewable sources, as well as any government infrastructure around the city.
Other Dane County communities have committed to using 100 percent renewable energy within the next 20 to 30 years, including Middleton and Madison, and so has the City of Eau Claire two hours north. The council’s Feb. 26 packet states there are more than 70 other U.S. cities that have adopted resolutions working toward 100 percent renewable energy, and another five that have fully implemented them already.
The move aligned Fitchburg with the energy and climate protection goals of Dane County, according to the document.
“Benefits” for the city, according to documentation in the packet, include a reduction in energy costs, the ability to reallocate funds to city services, an increase in residents and business startups who want to be in a city that cares about clean energy and increased health and quality of life.
Two people registered to speak in favor of the measure, with Don Ferber, a “neighbor” to the city as a Madison resident and a member of the Four Lakes Sierra Club, telling the council energy from renewable sources is more cost-efficient and the price of clean energy infrastructure is decreasing.
By “getting on the bandwagon now,” the city is avoiding potential price hikes in fossil fuel energy sources, he said.
Stacie Reece, who has been the sustainability program coordinator for the City of Madison since November 2018 and worked for the City of Middleton when it passed its 100 percent clean energy resolution, told alders she was “excited” to see Fitchburg take up their own resolution.
Each community has a responsibility to the others to work toward reducing their carbon footprint, Reece said.
“Although each of our communities are unique in size and scope, the challenges we face due to the impacts of climate change are shared,” she said. “Carbon emissions are not beholden to municipal borders and or jurisdictional rules, and the solutions to achieve 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero carbon are also shared.
Ald. Tony Hartmann (D-4) said this resolution was a way of the city opting back into the Paris Climate Agreement, of which President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of in June 2017.
“We have the opportunity to do some forward-thinking … initiatives,” he said. “I feel like we’re already on top of this, and this is really just the next step.”