Help Alameda Make Earth Day Matter

When Earth Day first launched in 1970, it signaled the rise of the modern environmental movement in the United States. Today, more than one billion people celebrate Earth Day across the globe, bringing international attention to the environment. 

Here in Alameda, we can take inspiration from the legacy of Earth Day as we address our island’s environmental challenges. I am proud of our city’s Public Utilities Board and Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) for working to protect Alameda and the planet from the harmful effects of climate change. 

As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, I am happy to share information about AMP’s history and current policies so Alamedans can better understand our community-owned utility’s long and ongoing commitment to the environment. 

In the 1980s, AMP was one of the first utilities to invest heavily in renewable power through development of geothermal resources at the Geysers in Northern California. This was followed by years of investment in other renewable energy sources including wind, landfill gas and hydropower. By 2011, the utility easily exceeded the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, (RPS), that requires electric utilities to purchase a growing percentage of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

In fact, AMP developed so much renewable energy that we have been able to strategically sell portions of it on a short-term basis to other utilities struggling to meet the state RPS mandate. AMP estimates that these renewable energy credit agreements (referred to as REC sales), which run from 2012 to 2019, will generate about $32 million of additional revenue. 

At the direction of the Public Utilities Board, the funds from these short-term sales must be used for local investments in programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity use. 

To date, AMP has used approximately $15 million of this funding for energy-saving projects to help residents, businesses, schools and city facilities reduce their energy use with upgrades to lighting, appliances, HVAC, refrigeration and more. Staff is currently evaluating a community solar program and planning more greenhouse-gas-reducing projects.

Additionally, AMP has used some of this funding on a comprehensive metering infrastructure upgrade, enabling the utility to bring the many benefits of current smart meter technology to Alamedans. 

This allows our customers to continue to benefit from rates that average 15 to 17 percent lower than those in surrounding areas served by PG&E or East Bay Community Energy. With the more comprehensive data from digital meters, Alamedans will be able to further lower their carbon footprint because AMP will be able to develop more effective energy efficiency, solar and electric vehicle programs. 

AMP’s short-term sales of renewable energy end in 2019. I am proud to announce that 100 percent of AMP’s resources will be carbon neutral starting in 2020. As a result of diligent planning and aggressive goals, AMP will meet the city’s energy needs with only carbon-free power for years to come.

This achievement aligns with the ambitious and important goals outlined in the city of Alameda’s Local Action Plan for Climate Protection. AMP participates on the city’s Green Team, which is working to update the climate action plan. 

While AMP is working hard to address climate change, the success of its programs depends on residents’ participation. We encourage everyone in Alameda to join Alameda Green and participate in rebate programs for purchasing electric vehicle chargers or improving energy efficiency.

Alameda residents are invited to join AMP and Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA) at the upcoming “Green Your Dream Home” public workshops. The series begins on Thursday, May 17, with a session on electric vehicles. AMP will host a second session on installing solar energy at your home in June. Find details about these and all of AMP’s programs at www.alamedamp.com or visit the AMP booth at the city of Alameda’s Earth Day festival on Saturday, April 21. 

The 20 million people who launched a national movement on Earth Day 1970 laid the foundation for ongoing and critical work to combat global climate change. AMP’s mission is to provide energy that is as clean, reliable and affordable as possible while contributing to the community. AMP is proud of the progress it has made, but knows it will require the entire community working together to protect the Island City’s environment now, and in the future. 

 

Ann McCormick is the President of the Public Utilities Board.