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November 2018 Issue

Also in this issue: City Railroad Ordinance Preempted by Federal Law     |     ADEA Applies to Local Governments Regardless of Their Size

City of Madison Finalizes 100% Renewable Plan

In 2017, the City of Madison City Council passed a resolution committing the City to achieving 100% renewable energy and zero net carbon emissions, becoming the first Wisconsin municipality to do so (since then, the City of Middleton and the City of Eau Claire have passed similar resolutions).  Public meetings were held to solicit community input (Municipal Law Newsletter, October, 2017). The City’s consultants, Navigant and the Sustainable Engineering Group, then began working on a plan to implement the City’s 100% goal.  Preliminary drafts of the plan were provided to Sustainable Madison Committee (SMC) members for review.

At the November 26, 2018 SMC meeting, members of the public and SMC members reviewed a near final draft of the proposed plan, entitled “100% Renewable Madison: Achieving 100% Renewable Energy & Zero Net Carbon for City Operations & Leading the Community” (“Plan”).

The 48 page Plan presents three scenarios for how the City of Madison can achieve its goals between 2020 and 2030 through a combination of actions designed to (i) reduce energy demand from city operations through energy efficiency and demand-side measures; (ii) increase the supply of clean energy by developing new renewable energy generation resources through the City’s incumbent utilities, MGE and Alliant; and (iii) supply remaining energy needs through the use of renewable energy credits (RECs) and carbon offsets to bridge the City’s efforts while it develops both the demand-side and supply-side efforts.  The scenarios vary in terms of the level of required City investment in direct actions versus RECs and carbon offset purchases — the most accelerated scenario (15% carbon reduction by 2020, with 85% use of RECs and carbon offsets) requires less City investment and more reliance on REC and carbon offset purchases.

During the three hour public discussion, participants focused attention on several components of the plan, including the role of RECs as a “bridge” strategy; the need to further emphasize the impact of the City’s leadership role on community-wide efforts to reduce the reliance on carbon-emitting sources; and the importance of highlighting the social equity and public health impacts of the Plan.  In particular, SMC members pointed out that, even in the most aggressive direct action scenario (55% percent carbon reduction by 2030), an overall investment of $95 million into clean energy initiatives such as new solar installations; water distribution, building efficiency and LED streetlights; and new green and electric fleet and transit vehicle purchases, would still require significant purchases of RECs and other carbon offsets.   

SMC members will be reviewing a final draft at its December meeting.  Efforts will then be focused on developing an accompanying resolution to be considered by the City Council that would also allow the City to direct City staff to implement specific elements of the Plan.

This newsletter is published and distributed for informational pur- poses only. It does not offer legal advice with respect to particular situations, and does not purport to be a complete treatment of the legal issues surrounding any topic. Because your situation may differ from those described in this Newsletter, you should not rely solely on this information in making legal decisions.

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