Powering any city with 100 percent renewable energy sources without any significant cost increase for consumers is a no-brainer, right? The answer is definitely “yes” in Cincinnati, Ohio, where city officials are working on a deal that could have only renewable electrons flowing across the city by this summer.
The Queen City is moving toward a renewable-only portfolio through a power aggregation deal with regional power providers. In Ohio, local communities are allowed by law to pool their citizens together to increase buying power and solicit lower prices for natural gas and electricity.
Cincinnati decided to take its aggregation move a step further and require power providers to include quotes for both the cheapest electricity available and cleanest electricity available. The city council has urged the administration to choose suppliers that offer only renewable energy.
If it works, officials could make their city the largest in the United States to have a 100 percent renewable energy supply – a significant swing considering 85 percent of Cincinnati’s electricity currently comes from coal.
Sentiment in the region seems to be shifting toward clean sources of energy. Nearly 100 people testified in favor of the initiative at a recent public hearing, and Greenpeace recently flew a “Cleaner Is Cheaper” blimp over the city to highlight the externalities associated with coal power, annually estimated at 200 deaths, 313 heart attacks, and 3,200 asthma attacks in the community.
“The biggest thing impacting our carbon footprint is how we get our electricity,” said Larry Falkin, director of the city’s office of environment quality. “This is probably the biggest opportunity we’ll have over the next several years to reduce Cincinnati’s carbon footprint.”
City officials are currently in the process of issuing requests for proposals (RFPs) to power providers to meet their electricity needs. If the responses do not come back to include 100 percent renewables without significant cost increases, city officials may be able to structure the deal so that individual consumers can choose between the cheapest electricity option and a completely renewable electricity option.
Source: Cincinnati Business Courier
Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.