The Windy City is trying to live up to its name in more ways than one. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday the city would transition all of its city-owned buildings and operations to clean energy by 2025—just eight years from now. This marks the largest city-specific commitment to renewable energy in the United States so far, at least in terms of the number of public buildings that will be affected, according to the Sierra Club.
The move comes as more large cities have been adopting and expanding self-imposed renewable energy goals—and as federal greenhouse gas emission regulations are expected to weaken under the Trump Administration. President Donald Trump has recently set his sights on curtailing that regulation by signing an executive order eliminating the Clean Power Plan put in place by former President Barack Obama.
"As the Trump administration pulls back on building a clean energy economy, Chicago is doubling down."
"As the Trump administration pulls back on building a clean energy economy, Chicago is doubling down," Emanuel said in a public press release. "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."
Chicago isn't the first US city to decide to move its municipal operations to renewable power, but it is the largest based on population. Las Vegas started running all its government buildings on clean power in December, becoming the largest city to reach that milestone, and San Jose and San Diego are also reaching toward powering their city operations via renewable energy.
However, the city hasn't decided where its clean energy will come from. Sierra Club Illinois representative Jack Darin told Motherboard he expects the city to choose a mix of solar and wind projects within Chicago, power purchase agreements within Illinois and renewable energy credits to meet the 2025 deadline.
The biggest power drain in the city is heating, cooling and lighting, Darin said, and Chicago officials will have to figure out how to power city schools, city colleges, municipal office buildings and thousands of street lights. "This is going to take a little bit of time to figure out what the solution is for the different agencies and the different supply contracts," Darin said.
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