New Accelerator Program To Help Advance Cities’ Clean Energy Goals

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Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) have kicked off a joint effort to help U.S. cities procure over 2.8 GW of renewable capacity.

According to the partners, although more than 100 cities across the U.S. have made commitments to increase their use of renewable energy, the commitments come with challenges.

The new program, called the American Cities Climate Challenge Renewables Accelerator, will provide resources for cities to achieve their renewable goals with the help of RMI and WRI. The program will help cities procure large-scale, off-site renewable energy; deploy renewables locally; and navigate regulatory, policy and institutional barriers by engaging with utilities and policymakers.

“The role cities must play in spurring demand for renewable energy and accelerating the clean energy transition has never been more important,” says Antha N. Williams, head of environmental programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We are excited to work with some of America’s most ambitious cities to deepen their renewable procurement efforts, tackle climate change and ultimately deliver for their communities.”

The effort will support the 25 winning cities selected for Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge and make assistance available to the nearly 200 USDN members seeking to power their communities with renewable energy. This week, representatives from more than two dozen cities and communities across the U.S. are meeting in Washington, D.C., to participate in training on renewables procurement approaches for large-scale, off-site clean energy projects.

Minneapolis, a Climate Challenge winner and Renewables Accelerator participant, is evaluating renewable procurement options as it develops a blueprint to power its entire community with 100% renewable energy by 2030.

“Many of the largest cities in the U.S. are working through these issues at the same time,” says Kim Havey, director of the City of Minneapolis’ division of sustainability. “Minneapolis is excited to work with the Renewables Accelerator to come up with innovative solutions that allow us and Xcel Energy, our utility, to work together on decarbonization and pave the way for other cities to follow suit.”

Pittsburgh, another Climate Challenge winner and Renewables Accelerator participant, hopes to encourage its region to move toward clean electricity by working with the Western Pennsylvania Energy Consortium (WPEC), which allows Pittsburgh to purchase energy on the wholesale market.

“Through WPEC, we’ve created the opportunity to influence how we source our electricity; the next step is legally enabling this group to directly procure or invest in large-scale clean energy projects,” notes Grant Ervin, chief resilience officer of the City of Pittsburgh. “With assistance from the Renewables Accelerator, we hope to make that goal a reality and enter into agreements that both have positive impacts locally and help Pittsburgh reach our 100 percent renewable energy commitment.”

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