It is no secret that all across the world in the past couple of decades the area of clean energy has experienced leaps-and-bounds growth. One organization, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), annually compiles what it calls a “City Clean Energy Scorecard.”
The ACEEE in “Scorecard: Leading U.S. Cities Grow Clean Energy Efforts but Many More Lag Far Behind,” Oct. 6, 2020 ACEEE press release explains, “[The scorecard] provides the most comprehensive national measuring stick for climate progress and a roadmap for future improvements.”
Data supplied by publicly available sources, utilities and communities alike acquired by the ACEEE is analyzed and along with the findings from said analysis, is what is presented in the report. A hundred major American cities – housing nearly 20 percent of the national population – were evaluated in this year’s scorecard, up from the 75 analyzed in 2019.
What’s important to note is, “The report assesses policies adopted by May 1, 2020. The public health and economic devastation wrought by COVID-19, as well as the growing outrage over racial disparities and their impacts on communities of color, could cause city policy priorities to change. The report argues that as cities focus on economic recovery in the context of COVID-19, energy efficiency and renewable energy remain a crucial strategy for creating jobs and keeping investment within local communities. Furthermore, a closer focus on equitable planning and investment can yield benefits that have historically been unavailable to communities of color.”
Expanding on this idea further in the release in question is report author lead and ACEEE local policy program director, David Ribeiro, who said: “‘Many cities are really seizing the moment and embracing policies that help them fight climate change, while too many others are, frankly, doing very little,’” and who then went on to state, “‘We want to show all the cities, even the leaders, the further steps they can take to cut carbon emissions most effectively and equitably.’”
“Among the report’s findings:
- Washington, DC; Denver; Los Angeles; San José; and Oakland rounded out the top 10 highest-ranked cities, with San José and Oakland making the top 10 for the first time.
- The top 10 cities embraced new actions. Boston and Los Angeles updated codes to require new buildings be pre-wired for electric vehicle charging stations at more parking spaces, and San Francisco convened a network to work with marginalized communities to establish equitable zero-emissions residential building strategies.
- St. Paul (#16) was the most-improved city, taking key steps to improve efficiency of existing buildings, reduce total vehicle miles traveled, and embrace renewable energy. St. Louis (#28) was the second-most-improved city; in April, it became the third city in the country to require large existing buildings to meet a performance standard, which will drive energy efficiency upgrades.
- More cities are making efforts to increase community engagement with, and clean energy investments in, low-income communities and communities of color. Washington, DC, formed an equity advisory group to develop recommendations to be incorporated in its clean energy plans. But nearly all cities have substantial room to ramp up their efforts.
- Bottom-scoring cities’ policy efforts have either stagnated or not started; these cities are years behind the leaders. To scale up climate efforts across the country, more cities will need to adopt and implement effective clean energy policies.
- Many cities are encouraging electric utilities and state regulators to increase the use of renewable energy in the power system. Twenty-four cities submitted comments on public utility commission proceedings, entered into utility partnerships, enacted community choice aggregation programs, or participated in planning efforts with utilities.”
“… New York City leaped to first place in the ranking—spurred in part by a new law ensuring upgrades to many inefficient buildings—followed by Boston and Seattle (tied for second place) and Minneapolis and San Francisco (tied for fourth place),” as reported in the release by the ACEEE.
Scorecard city policy areas assessed, meanwhile, include: Building policies, community-wide initiatives, energy and water utilities, local government operations, and transportation policies, the ACEEE in the release reported.
Related article: “States see forward progress in areas of energy and transportation efficiency.”
Published by Alan Kandel