WE HAVE TAKEN THE LEAP--- PALO ALTO ELECTRICITY IS NOW 100% CARBON NEUTRAL!
The City Council approval on March 4, 2013 of a Carbon Neutral Electric Resource Plan commits Palo Alto to using carbon neutral electric resources from now on. This makes our town one of only a handful of places on Earth that is using 100% carbon neutral electricity.
THE PLAN REPRESENTS A BIG STEP FORWARD In keeping with the City's efforts to combat climate change, this plan effectively eliminates all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the City's electric portfolio effective right now. (The term "electric portfolio" refers to the entire collection of power resources from which the city obtains electricity.)
The Carbon Neutral Plan achieves carbon neutrality for the electric supply portfolio at a cost cost expected to be less than one tenth of a cent per kilowatt hour [kWh} above the already anticipated cost of ~four tenths of a cent per kWh to meet the City’s renewable energy portfolio standard goal. To read more about the whole concept of "renewable portfolio standards," click here.
The Carbon Neutral Plan is designed to be transparent, credible, sustainable, inspirational and repeatable by other communities.
HOW WE GOT TO THIS POINT Palo Alto has a record of leadership in pursuing initiatives to increase our community's environmental sustainability. The City recognizes environmental sustainability as one of its top priorities and in 2007 approved an aggressive Climate Protection Plan which identified community-wide GHG emission reduction goals for the short-, medium-, and long-term. These goals were:
Short-term goal: By 2009, the City will reduce emissions by 5% from 2005 emission levels for a total reduction of 3,266 metric tons of CO2.
Medium-term goal: By 2012 the City and Community will reduce emissions by 5% from 2005 emissions level for a total reduction of 39,702 metric tons of CO2.
Long-term goals: By 2020, the City and Community will reduce emissions by 15% of 2005 levels, equal to 119,140 metric tons of CO2, and bring the community in line with State emission reduction goals.
In recent years the City has taken aggressive steps towards reducing GHG emissions in its electric portfolio through
Combined, these efforts are expected to account for an over 40% drop in 2012 electricity-related GHG emissions compared to 2005 levels.
THE NEXT BIG STEP: Carbon Neutral Electric Plan. The plan has two phases:
Near term (2013 through 2016)---the City will purchase short-term renewable resources and/or renewable energy certificates (RECs) to supplement existing and committed long-term renewable and hydroelectric resources, which account for 65% to 83% of the portfolio.
Longer term (beyond 2016)---long-term renewable resources will provide about a 50% RPS level within the existing 0.5 ₵/kWh annual RPS rate limit. Since about 50% of the electric supply portfolio is already sourced from carbon-free hydroelectric resources, the additional cost of achieving carbon neutrality between 2017 and 2020 is very small.