Pasadena 100: Advocating that Pasadena Water and Power should provide 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, as part of the City’s Climate Action Plan.
Change is coming; the City can either proactively manage those changes in order to strengthen and enrich our community, or become trapped in an expensive cycle of crisis-response that will gradually sap the human and financial resources of the City and its residents.
After California’s Executive Order S-3-05 established statewide GHG emission reduction targets of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, the California Council on Science and Technology produced a Report (California’s Energy Future: the view to 2050) that provided roadmaps for achieving those reductions. This requires taking full advantage of the low-hanging energy fruit: (1) implement all available energy efficiency measures, (2) electrify energy use as much as possible (ie. electric cars, buses and light rail), and (3) fully decarbonize the electricity supply.
Fortunately, a revolution in renewable electricity generation and energy efficiency is taking place. The price of wind and solar electricity has dropped dramatically and continues to fall. Within 5 years the cost of producing electricity from renewable sources is predicted to fall below that of existing coal or natural gas generation — even without taking into account the costs of damaged health and environmental degradation caused by air pollution and global warming. The revolution is beginning to extend to storage too, with Tesla’s Power Wall storage batteries the most publicized technology. At utility-scale, Lazard Inc. predicts that by 2020 solar PLUS storage will be cheaper than PWP’s solar-only Kingbird PPA contract. The cost of LED lighting continues to plummet, cool roofing systems reduce home air conditioning requirements; the list of energy efficient technologies goes on and on.
In this context, Pasadena’s Climate Action Plan gains renewed significance and urgency. Change is coming; the City can either proactively manage those changes in order to strengthen and enrich our community, or become trapped in an expensive cycle of crisis-response that will gradually sap the human and financial resources of the City and its residents. For example, it will soon become cost-favorable for many Pasadena residents to install solar panels and battery storage in their homes and disconnect from PWP entirely. Unfortunately, in a city with the wealth disparity of Pasadena, the flight of the wealthy will leave a declining number of (poorer) residents to support PWP, leading to large increases in their monthly bills. PWP needs to proactively engage in the clean electricity revolution by expanding its proposed Community Solar program and performing even more aggressive energy efficiency outreach. That will facilitate the adoption of cost-saving clean energy technologies by the City’s less well-off customers, while continuing to retain their well-off customers.
Many cities have already resolved to be 100% renewable by 2035. Will Pasadena join them?
— Rob Haw