Cleveland engages residents to get to 100% renewable energy

By Ben Delman on October 15, 2018

Cleveland recently announced an ambitious but doable goal of getting all of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050. While it is the first Ohio city to make this a goal, it joins more than 80 municipalities around the country that have made a similar pledge.

“It’s good for the residents of Cleveland,” said Matt Gray, Cleveland’s Chief of Sustainability. “We see that renewable energy creates local jobs, cleans our air, leads to economic development, and it’s what people want.”

The 100% goal derives from the city’s Climate Action Plan. Community engagement played an important role in the plan’s development. The city held a dozen community forums in neighborhoods across Cleveland in order to get public input on next steps that it should take. It solicited feedback from 90 community groups and received an additional 200 comments from residents.

Gray noted there are many ways that Cleveland residents can get involved. “To do solar well you need a lot of engagement,” Gray said. The countywide solar co-op has helped engage residents to go solar.” He also said workforce development would be important to ensure that there are residents who are trained to meet the growing demand for solar.

For the city’s part, he indicated it would pursue more projects like the one recently completed by Cuyahoga County at the Brooklyn landfill. He said there is a good amount of space across the city to build additional solar projects. The goal would be to engage residents and businesses to create some type of community solar project. How that will look remains to be seen, given the lack of state law allowing virtual net metering.

While it’s 100% commitment put Cleveland at the forefront in Ohio. It isn’t alone. Cincinnati recently announced it would seek the construction of a 25 MW solar system. This would account for about a quarter of the city government’s energy needs.