Government representatives of Chicago just announced their commitment to converting their city pulling buildings’ electricity supply to 100% renewable energy by 2025. When implemented, Chicago will be the largest major city in the country to have a 100% renewable energy supply for its public buildings.
“As the Trump administration pulls back on building a clean energy economy, Chicago is doubling down,” Mayor Emanuel said. “By committing the energy used to power our public buildings to wind and solar energy, we are sending a clear signal that we remain committed to building a 21st century economy here in Chicago.”
Collectively the City, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the Park District, Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), and the City Colleges of Chicago used nearly 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2016, amounting to 8% of all electricity use in Chicago; it is the equivalent to powering approximately 295,000 Chicago homes. The electricity used by these agencies is the same amount of energy created by over 300 wind turbines in one year. The commitment will be met through a combination of acquiring renewable energy credits, utility-supplied renewable energy via Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard, and on-site generation. Initial purchases will begin in 2018 and 2019.
Today’s action is a historic step forward in establishing Chicago as a clean energy leader,” said Jack Darin, Illinois Sierra Club President. “By moving boldly to repower its public buildings with renewable energy like wind and solar, Chicago is leading by example at a time when local leadership is more important than ever. While President Trump and his administration would reverse America’s progress on climate change and clean energy, Mayor Emanuel is ensuring that Chicago will move forward, and that its residents will benefit from the good jobs and cleaner air that come from renewable energy projects. We look forward to working with the Mayor, community leaders, and the people of Chicago to achieve this bold goal on the path to eventually powering all of Chicago with 100% clean energy.”
Mayor Emanuel announced Chicago’s new commitment on the rooftop of Shedd Aquarium, which has installed over 900 solar panels in an effort to reduce their energy use by 50% by 2020. As a member of Mayor Emanuel’s Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge, Shedd Aquarium has also retrofitted nearly 1,000 of its own light bulbs to LED and installed a 60,000 pound, one-megawatt battery on their own property.
The City and its sister agencies have already made significant strides to green their energy supply. In 2013, the City eliminated coal from the over 1 billion kilowatt hours in electricity it buys on an annual basis. A dozen CPS schools have had solar arrays installed since 2009, while the Park District and City Colleges currently procure large portions of their energy use from renewable sources.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the City of Chicago earned a 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award. It is given annually to honor organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency.
Last week, the Mayor announced that the Smart Lighting Project will start on the South and West Sides this summer. Once approved by City Council, the Chicago Smart Lighting Project will replace 270,000 of Chicago’s light fixtures and add a management system that will give the city a state-of-the-art smart lighting grid.
Today’s announcement builds on the strong environmental track record built since 2011. In January, Mayor Emanuel announced that Chicago has reduced its carbon emissions by seven percent from 2010 to 2015. The reduction in greenhouse gases came at the same time Chicago saw a 25,000 person increase in its population and 12 percent growth in the region’s economy and jobs within the city. The emissions reduction, equivalent to shutting down a coal power plant for eight months, compares to a one percent increase in nationwide emissions from 2009 to 2014.