Madison wants to transition to 100 percent renewable energy using RECs

June 27, 2018

MADISON, Wis., June 26, 2018 - A proposed resolution was introduced at last week's City Council meeting that would put Madison on the path to transition into 100 percent renewable energy use.

The measure would authorize the city to enter a contract with OneEnergy for the annual purchase and sale of renewable energy credits from years 2019-2023. The annual payments for the five year contract will be: $389,059 (2019), $354,170 (2020), $390,962 (2021), $170,308 (2022) and $91,715 (2023).

“This purchase will enable to the City to make substantial progress toward achieving its 100 percent renewable energy/net zero carbon goals in a cost-effective and timely manner,” according to a release from the Sustainable Madison Committee.

According to the proposed resolution, the quickest strategy to acquire new sources of renewable energy and to reach net-zero carbon goals is the financing of community-scale solar projects and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

RECs are tradable non-tangible energy commodities that represent proof of the generation of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy by a renewable energy facility. Financing community-scale solar projects with RECs is a cost-effective arrangement for large scale investments in renewable energy, according to the proposed resolution.

The city is looking at five cities where RECs account for more than 75 percent of their renewable energy as examples on what strategies will be successful. Those cities are: Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; Forest County Potawatomi in Wisconsin and Montgomery County, Maryland. All those cities have purchased RECs “to meet ambitious emissions reduction goals.”

The Sustainable Madison Committee said under this contract, the city will be able to utilize RECs for the next 25 years.

Also according to the proposed resolution, the project will increase solar capacity in Wisconsin by 15 percent, produce enough power for 2,500 WI households, catalyze nearly $20 million in clean energy investment for rural Wisconsin, establish 70 acres of pollinator friendly habitat beneath the solar arrays and is the only community-scale solar project in the development pipeline at this moment in time.

In 2017, Madison established a community-wide energy and carbon goal of 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions, and the city selected Sustainable Engineering Group LLC to provide a plan for city operations to achieve goals of 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero carbon.

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