Voices of 100%: Will Oklahoma Cities Follow Norman’s Lead to Renewable Energy? — Episode 84 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

Date: 28 Aug 2019 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Can new leadership send a southern city on its way to 100% renewable energy?

For this episode of our Voices of 100% series of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Breea Clark, mayor of Norman, Oklahoma. Clark has only just become the mayor of Norman, but she is all in on 100% renewable energy. The two discuss why acting at the local level is so important, along with the tools that Norman has to advance its ambitious goal.

Listen to the full episode to learn how Norman is taking action to support local, clean energy, and explore more highlights and resources, below — including a transcript and summary of the conversation.

Breea Clark: This is no longer a partisan issue. This is a human issue. This is a local government issue, because like I said earlier, we wait so long for the state government to take action, and the federal government, when there are things we can be doing right now at the local level.
John Farrell: Can Oklahoma’s third largest city set a standard for clean energy in the state? Breea Clark is the recently elected mayor of Norman, Oklahoma just outside of Oklahoma City. Her city is the first in the state to adopt a 100% renewable energy goal and it has already piloted strategies to use the city’s power to get there. I’m John Farrell, director of the Energy Democracy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self Reliance and this is our special voices of 100 series focused on local leaders and their pursuit of 100% renewable energy. It’s all part of Local Energy Rules, a biweekly podcast sharing powerful stories about local renewable energy.
John Farrell: Breea welcome to Local Energy Rules.
Breea Clark: Thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here and to share our story.
John Farrell: So there are over a hundred cities that have made 100% renewable energy commitments like Norman, but they differ in terms of scope and in terms of timeline, could you explain what Norman has committed to?
Breea Clark: Sure. We had committed to renewable energy by 2035, mostly wind and solar, and then by 2050 a complete transition to renewable energy. Everything from heat to transportation.
John Farrell: So as you were saying before we started the recording, you’ve recently been elected mayor, congratulations, after serving on the city council. I looked over your campaign page as part of doing some background research to understand your perspective coming into this issue on renewable energy. And I was curious, how do you see this hundred percent pledge as part of your campaign’s focus on infrastructure, right. I noticed it was the top of your issues page for your campaign for mayor.
Breea Clark: It is. You know, at the local level, we don’t really deal with partisan issues like gun rights or abortion or anything. I like to say that partisan politics don’t fill potholes. So we deal a lot with infrastructural at the local level and built into that. We do, obviously a lot of construction, especially in Norman right now with a recent initiative passed in 2015 called Norman Forward. That builds a lot of quality of life projects. And so in terms of infrastructure, everything from your basic roads and whatnot, all the way to the city buildings that we are constructing. And it’s been very important for us to be sustainable and how we do that. You know, we can wait forever for the state government and the federal government or like literally wait forever for them to do something or we can do it on our own. And I’ve been very proud of how it, Norman has taken the initiative to make sure as we build our roads in our city facilities that we are being sustainable. So it is a key piece of moving forward with infrastructure and a main role that local government plays.
John Farrell: So thanks to cost-effective wind and solar power, electricity is typically the easiest strategy in shifting to renewable energy. And you kind of mentioned in the stages for Norman’s goal, you’re gonna focus on electricity first and then heating and transportation in the long run, like most a hundred percent cities do. Norman is served by utility companies that it doesn’t own. So how do you see the city having the power to help shift the electricity use of municipal buildings but also residents and businesses toward renewable energy in order to meet that 2035 goal?
Breea Clark: That is a fantastic question and something that we very much are wrestling with, but we were not gonna let that stop us from making this commitment. So fortunately the timing has worked out that we are negotiating our franchise agreement with OG&E. OG&E is our main electricity provider, but we also have OEC for a lot of our rural areas and we can’t control those boundary lines. So we’ve had to get creative and working with those partners in having that franchise agreement fall at this time to be renegotiated was again, quite fortuitous. So we’ve gotten presentations. We’ll actually, our ECAB environmental control advisory board formed a subcommittee in 2018 after we passed Ready for 100 and they were tasked with putting together a timeline of how we’ll get to where we need to be that they will present to us in January of, uh, January one of 2020.

And they, that group specifically has gotten presentations on the, uh, renewable energy portfolios and longterm plans from OG&E and OEC to learn what they’re doing to get us in this direction because it isn’t just a Norman issue, you know, this is a worldwide issue. And I think the sooner these companies realize that the better we’ll all be. And we’ve had some great projects already come through. OEC has a solar garden right off of one of our main highways through Norman. And we, there’s been talks with possibly the schools going towards green energy and solar. And I know as we are renovating our municipal complex and also having conversations about how do we incorporate solar. So there’s a lot of things that timing really worked out well for us. So yes, it is difficult when we don’t have our own municipal electricity, but we plan to take fully advantage of this opportunity that we have.

John Farrell: I’m really interested in terms of the franchise agreement. So I have a bit of history here about myself. I’ve been involved in Minneapolis, Minnesota where we had a similar franchise agreement expiring five years ago in 2014 between the city and its electric and gas utilities. And out of that came this really novel Clean Energy Partnership, which you may or may not have heard of if you’ve spent any time googling about franchise agreements like I do. And so I, I’m kind of curious in terms of the conversations around the franchise, and this is maybe getting too much into the weeds, but are there a lot of rules at the state level, but like the state franchise law that kind of constrain the level of conversation that you can have with utility companies, do you feel like there’s some really interesting like points of leverage for the city in that conversation?
Breea Clark: Well to be honest, our franchise agreement has expired. So we are operating with an expired one right now as we really try to move forward on this. You know, the electrical companies will tell you it’s hard for our investor to invest in us when we don’t have a long-term commitment. But how technology is changing so quickly not having commitments to green energy or at least a shorter franchise agreement is insane. And I think our council realizes that and we’re having a really hard time with a 25 year without a full commitment that matches ours. So we are allowed to have these conversations. But again, the boundaries are set by our corporation commission. So we are limited, but we’re getting creative and I’d love to see what you’ve done. It sounds like we could learn a lot from it because we were not the first one in Oklahoma to push back, but it looks like we’re the best well-positioned to show that we can have better policies and long-term agreements than what we currently have in place for all of Oklahoma.
John Farrell: Well, I’m happy to follow up separately about the franchise agreement and some of the work that we did in Minneapolis. I wouldn’t say that it was a huge win necessarily, but we did get some of the things that you’re looking for around a shorter franchise agreement and some public commitments by the utility companies to help the city reach its climate action goals, which are not entirely the same as the renewable energy, but have a lot of alignment in terms of carbon emissions, renewable energy resources and access to renewables for customers. So yeah, happy to share more at another time.
Breea Clark: Send it my way, please.
John Farrell: Yeah, yeah, I’d be happy to. It’s a, it’s been an interesting experience to share about and always exciting. I actually just heard over social media in the past week that the city of Chicago, Illinois also has an expired franchise agreement. And if you have, as I mentioned before, I spent a little time doing franchise agreement research, Chicago is kind of the one who set the standard for making it a big public issue about 30 years ago when that franchise expired last. So it’s a, it’s an exciting time for cities to be talking about like, you know, what leverage do we have? And this is one of those key pieces.
Breea Clark: I completely agree. Well, you know, our country is out of the Paris accords and, and all of that. Uh, we’re still committed. Norman is through the U.S. mayor’s climate agreement. So we are very much committed to this and we’re, we are prepared to do what we can to protect not only our environment but our city’s future, which is what it comes down to.
John Farrell: So I wanted to talk a little bit about, unlike a lot of cities that have made these commitments or some of the other conversations we’ve had that are really just focused on the goal, it was right around the same time that Norman passed, it’s 100% renewable energy goal that also passed a policy that actually pushes in that direction. It was about helping make new homes more energy efficient by offering a discount on the permitting fees that the city would charge on the permit for a new home. So I’m just kinda curious about that. The news story I read to suggest that it was just a six month pilot, so how did that program go? Is it going to continue and are there other ways the city is thinking about using that particular permitting power or whatever to align with its clean energy goal?
Breea Clark: Yes, definitely. Thank you for that question. It was a successful pilot when we put that in place. We had about 94 homes that were to take advantage of that incentive policy, which is about 25% of the homes built during that pilot period. We plan to extend that through December because it was so successful. I hope that we can continue to incentivize in a variety of ways. We are also looking to streamline our code enforcement policies regarding solar panels. Apparently we haven’t been very clear on that and that has sadly deterred some solar panel development in homes. So we’re hoping to clean that up. I mean incentives are going to go so far, so it’ll be how far are we willing to go with just enforcing low impact development, but for now we’re definitely happy to explore the incentive piece of it and continue it.
John Farrell: We’re going to take a short break. When we come back, we’ll continue our voices of 100 interview with Norman, Oklahoma Mayor Breea Clark, talking about sundown towns, key partners in the city’s renewable energy work, and a high school in Kansas that gives her inspiration.
John Farrell: Hey, thanks for listening to Local Energy Rules. If you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously a fan and we could use your help for just two minutes. As you’ve probably noticed, we don’t have any corporate sponsors or ads for any of our podcasts. The reason is that our mission at ILSR is to reinvigorate democracy by decentralizing economic power. Instead, we rely on you, our listeners. Your donations not only underwrite this podcast, but also help us produce all of the research and resources that we make available on our website and all of the technical assistance we provide to grassroots organizations every year. Each year, our small staff helps hundreds of communities challenge monopoly power directly and rebuild their local economies. So please take a minute and go to Ilsr.org and click on the donate button. And if making a donation isn’t something you can do, please consider helping us in other ways. You can help other folks find this podcast by telling them about it or by giving it a review on iTunes, stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. The more ratings from listeners like you, the more folks can find this podcast and ILSR’s other podcasts: Community Broadband Bits and Building Local Power. Thanks again for listening. Now, back to the program.
John Farrell: So this next question, I was doing some background reading and Wikipedia about Norman, but what I came across was that Norman was one of thousands of cities across the U.S. during the Jim Crow era which are known as sundown towns where African Americans were not allowed to live or where it was generally considered unsafe for them to be seen after sundown. So it really unfortunate part of our history in the United States, and the reason I bring it up is that cities like Atlanta or Pueblo, Colorado, that have made similar clean energy commitments have talked a lot about making sure that the transition works well for all residents. You know, especially those in communities of color, or that are low income. So this sort of sparked me as I was reading that to ask you, are there elements of that in Norman’s commitment in terms of like the language that was adopted or plans around, how do you make sure energy stays affordable for folks who are on the margins or how you make sure that they can participate in things like saving energy, reducing their bills, or even going solar?
Breea Clark: No, I completely agree. It’s gotta be accessible and it is very much your inequality issue. We actually have a citizen organization in Norman called the Norman citizens for racial justice. And they provided the city a list of action items and many of them centered around the environment because it’s so often that the lower income areas of the city will have the least access to resources and not just stuff with renewable energy and the affordability of that, but even in food deserts and healthy food retail options. So I really appreciated those citizens coming forward with that list of things that we need to be aware of. And it is about keeping it affordable and luckily that’s happening nationally within the market, but we need to make it easy to build as well. So A, we’re also interested in, in protecting our water. We could possibly be the first community in Oklahoma to commit to unpotable indirect reuse, which I’m very excited about because we do control that.

But, uh, I think it very much is an implicit issue and we have to be mindful of, of everybody in this city. I know that we’ve taken advantage of a lot of grant programs in everything from giving away rain barrels to um, uh, electrical vehicle plugin sites, making those all over Norman as well. So we are doing our part and like any community we can always do better but I’m excited to, to move forward with that in mind. You know, we need to make sure these people are included in our communities and our part of the discussion because I’m very mindful of assuming people situations and the issues that they’re dealing with. And so I think having open, honest conversations about what those situations are will help guide us as we move forward to having that full outline of executing Ready for 100 by 2020, the plan by 2020 not this whole renewable energy.

Another key piece I think of sustainability is a good public transit system. We’ve had a unique situation here in Norman where, you know, we’re home to the University of Oklahoma and they were in a time of transition as well and severed our 30 year partnership with the bus system. And so we’ve been scrambling this past year to take it over, make sure there’s no lapse in transit and make sure we have energy efficient buses. Norman was the second city in the state to have CNG garbage trucks. So we’re, we’re mindful of especially these bigger vehicles. And so not only do we want those to be clean vehicles, that we want to make sure that people in town use it. You know, so often I hear from you, why are we investing in this? People in Oklahoma don’t use the bus. Well they don’t now, but what if we invested in it and made it better routes and more affordable and then you can drive less. And so that part is also a sustainable part, I think any local government should be mindful of. But then goes back to the equality and accessibility issue as well. And so that’s going to be a key piece of what we look at providing those services. But make sure you’re there also as green as possible.

 John Farrell: I think that’s a great point. And nationally, there’s been a lot of about clean energy and transit with a Volkswagen settlement money around the, the company’s dishonesty about emissions records in the settlement with states. And a lot of that money has been invested in transit options, uh, as well as like electric vehicles. And it’s interesting and in a, in a report that we were did last year on a vehicle, electrification and whatnot. One of the things that we came across, although we don’t work on transportation a whole lot at ILSR was as you kind of mentioned about like buses. You’ve got a lot of people who don’t own cars for example. They’ve got a lot of then more buses running through their communities. You tend to target bus service towards communities where people are gonna use it more. And those buses when they’re diesel put out a lot of air pollution, you know, particulate emission and other issues. And so focusing on clean energy in the transit system is a great opportunity to address equity in terms of where the pollution is happening, as well as cleaning up the system writ large. So glad to hear that that Norman’s already been focused on that and good luck and that dealing with the fallout of a 30 year partnership on transit coming to an end. That sounds like quite a challenge.
Breea Clark: It has been. It really has. It’s really consumed our staff for the past year, but I, I think we’ve got a great plan that not only focuses on public transit in Norman but connects to public transit in the Oklahoma City Metro area. So we really are setting ourselves up for a city that doesn’t have to drive as much, that therefore has a cleaner environment and less impervious surfaces at parking lots and things like that. So I’m very excited and while a lot of this seems challenging at first franchise agreement negotiations, a system going away, the big picture is if you step back is that it’s actually provided us with this very unique timing opportunity to set us up to be successful with our ready for 100 commitments.
John Farrell: One thing I wanted to ask you in terms of wrapping up is about what advice you might offer to others. And I think this is going to be an interesting question for you because as you say, you have this unique timing issue, so you know Norman is the only Oklahoma City that has made a 100% renewable energy commitment and you have these really remarkable changes that are taking place both around your transit system and around the relationship with utilities. It seems like one piece of your advice might be seize those moments. Is there other advice that you would offer to cities that are looking at this 100% renewable energy goal maybe that are sort of hesitant to put themselves out there and to consider it? What would you offer as advice to them?
Breea Clark: Partnerships and collaborations. This is no longer a partisan issue. This is a human issue. This is an local government issue because like I said earlier, we wait so long for the state government to take action and the federal government when there are things we can be doing right now at the local level and yes, it all takes money and that’s why, especially the public private partnerships are so important. You’ve got to collaborate with your partners and you have to get community involvement. I mentioned we have environmental control advisory board that is a volunteer board of citizens. We’re helping create this map on how we get there, but we also have other social justice organizations making sure we’re mindful of that as we move forward and there there’s tensions from time to time like in any level of government, but that’s exactly what we need. It’s a good kind of conflict that brings about real and equitable change.

So have conversations include people in the process that’s your partners, know what you’re going for and your requests are not unreasonable. All we’re doing is trying to plan for a better, safer future and a better and safer environment that if it comes down to the bottom line of the dollar, it saves money in the long run. So don’t be afraid to be a trailblazer. Call on us when you’re ready to move forward and we will be more than happy to share our experiences, both good and bad because it is difficult, but it’s worth committing to.

John Farrell: Are there any private businesses or nonprofit organizations or others that you feel like have been particularly helpful already? Just in terms of making the pledge and 10 of getting oriented around what it means, kind of earn those early stages, organizations that there might be a parallel to in in other communities?
Breea Clark: Well, in terms of the transit piece and you know the, the grant money with the electric vehicles, Oklahoma has done a great job with the settle up money that we’ve gotten. For example, if the tobacco companies, we set up the tobacco settlement endowment trust t set, which continues to invest in and help your living throughout our communities. So Oklahoma does that very right and know what those are. So with the Association for the Central Oklahoma governments, they really helped us explore ideas on how we do that. We’ve worked with local cities to create the regional transit authority again, which will help us with regional transit to help reduce the number of vehicles being driven in our community in terms of nonprofits. And we work with our Sierra Club. They don’t hesitate to come out and say, how can we help? Here’s some advice. Here’s the ready for 100 commitments and involve people again from all walks of life.

We have teachers that are working diligently to include students in the advocacy process of bringing solar energy to public schools. And it’s fascinating, and I’m from Wichita, Kansas originally and went to Maize high school. And if you haven’t seen what they’ve done with their solar energy, you need to check that out because it’s really impressive and I believe they’re the first district not ever, but at least in Kansas to initiate something like that that again is a huge investment for their future. And so there are models out there so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and people are so excited about the opportunity we have to protect our future and our financial future. Frankly, we’re going to be happy to share their story. So I look forward to working with my physics professor back in high school who really spearheaded that initiative at Maize and bring it here and see what we can do right here in Norman, Oklahoma.

John Farrell: So last question. I like to leave people with something that they can kind of wrap their heads around right away. I’m just curious if there’s something that you’ve read or heard about and sort of inspires you in this work that we could share with our listeners.
Breea Clark: For me, I think it’s the Maize high school one. It was an idea that a professor had about making his school completely a hundred percent solar renewable energy and he worked his way up through the school board. He held fundraisers at car washes to get corporate partners to donate so he can speak about the community building. I mean the way he involved alumni from the high school, it’s truly inspiring and I’m, I’m, so again, a timing piece that is huge for Norman. You know, the mayor who’s invested in, in later 100 we’re hiring a sustainability coordinator, went to that high school. I have donated to that project. So I know it can be done and that’s the biggest thing is, is seeing these people be successful. We’re so often so scared to try something new, especially when it’s such a massive investment and different than we’ve ever done before, but people are doing it. Find those success stories. Mine right now is Maize high school and the progress we’ve already made right here in Norman, Oklahoma. I know we can do it and it’s never too late to get started until it is. So get started as soon as you can.
John Farrell: Well, Mayor Clark, it has been a pleasure talking to you about the work that you’ve already done, but also about the inspiration that you’re finding and I’m excited to share that story. We’ll make sure to look up a little bit more about this high school in Kansas. It’s leading on solar and make sure that we have some links for folks on our show page as well as to some of the other initiatives going on right there in Norman. Thank you again for joining me for this conversation.
Breea Clark: You’re very welcome. Thank you for sending me the documents that we mentioned and we are all in this together and local governments are where we’re going to make it happen. I’m confident.
John Farrell: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of our voices of 100% podcast series with recently elected Mayor Breea Clark of Norman, Oklahoma. Her city is the first in the state to adopt a 100% renewable energy goal and has already piloted strategies to achieve this ambitious target. To learn about other cities pursuing 100% renewable energy, check out our 12 additional Voices of 100% interviews, including leaders in Atlanta and Cleveland, or even little Bloomfield, Iowa on ILSR’s website. You can also see the entire list of 100% cities on our community power map and click through an interactive community power tool kit on ways cities can advance toward their goal. Tune back into local energy rules every two weeks to hear more powerful stories of communities taking on concentrated power to transform the energy system. Until next time, keep your energy local and thanks for listening.

 


New Leadership, New Direction

Breea Clark was sworn in as mayor of Norman on July 2, 2019 – only weeks before her conversation with Farrell. Before becoming mayor, Clark served three years on the City Council and helped pass a unanimous resolution to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Now, she leads the effort to implement this goal.

Throughout her campaign, and in her new position, Clark’s focus has been on infrastructure. To Clark, infrastructure projects bring about an uncontroversial good: they build the clean and healthy communities that everyone wants to live in. At the local level, infrastructure projects are what people care about, regardless of their politics. She says a favorite phrase of hers is that “partisan politics don’t fill potholes.”

Partisan politics don’t fill potholes.

Clark references the Norman Forward project as an example of what community members want to see. Through this initiative, the city is constructing public buildings and updating parks. Residents and community groups came to the council with the proposal in 2015. With so much construction underway, Clark says the city ought to do it sustainably. 

Another project important to Norman is the rebuilding of its transportation system. Clark explains  that few people use public transit now. However, given some investment, she sees potential for a thriving system that works for all residents. After severing its relationship with the prior transportation system, the city has the opportunity to rebuild a cleaner, more functional one. Building a cleaner system decreases vehicle emissions, which are a driver of inequity. Transitioning to clean energy in the transportation sector will ease pollution in disproportionately targeted areas of the city.

Commitment to 100%

Norman’s commitment has two goals: renewable electricity by 2035, and a complete transition to renewable energy by 2050. Clark says this commitment is not just for the environment, but for the city’s future. They need to take these steps now, because their goals will take some time to reach. This is why it is important for local action. Clark says:

We can wait forever for the state government or the federal government to do something, or we can do it on our own.

The city of Norman has done more than set an ambitious goal – it is creating an action plan that will get it there. On January 1st, 2020, the Environmental Control Advisory Board (ECAB) will present its timeline to the city council. ECAB hasn’t been working alone. Norman’s electric utilities have been presenting to the board, since their renewable energy portfolios and long term plans will affect Norman’s transition. 

So what action items will be in the timeline? Clark mentions many different projects she’s interested in seeing, including streamlining solar codes and putting solar on schools. 

One project Norman has tried is a home permitting program. In a pilot program, the city gave homebuilders incentives to build more efficient homes. During the pilot period, 94 homes were built using these incentives – 25 percent of homes built during the time. Because of the program’s success, Clark says the city may even extend it. However, she warns against relying too heavily upon incentive programs. She says that “incentives are only going to go so far.” At a certain point, further sustainable development must be enforced through code.


For more tools cities and communities have for advancing energy democracy, see ILSR’s community power toolkit.


Seeing Utilities as Partners

Clark mentions two utility companies in the interview: Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) and the rural Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (OEC). Investor-owned OG&E determines the energy sourcing for Norman. However, with the expiration of its franchise agreement with OG&E, the city has an exciting opportunity to determine its own energy future.

The city has been negotiating the agreement renewal for a while now. As technology changes and renewables become increasingly available, Clark sees big advantages in signing on to a shorter agreement. Meanwhile, utility investors want a long-term agreement to mitigate their own risk.

In these negotiations and beyond, Clark stresses the importance of viewing the utility as a partner. Norman cannot fulfill its 100% renewable commitment without the utility. So, she emphasizes thinking creatively and having the patience to find a solution that works for both the city and the utility.

While a lot of this seemed challenging at first – franchise agreement negotiations, the bus system going away – the big picture if you step back is that it has actually provided us with a very unique timing opportunity to set us up to be successful with our ready for 100 commitment.

Norman is not the only city to pin clean energy hopes on a new utility franchise agreement. Five years ago, Minneapolis negotiated a new agreement with utility Xcel Energy – an effort Farrell was involved in. Though it was not an absolute success, Farrell says, there were still some lessons other cities should take away.

Other U.S. cities are also looking at the leverage a franchise agreement provides, with one example being Chicago, whose franchise agreement is due to expire in 2020.

Learning from the Past

Norman, Okla. was one of thousands of cities in the early 1900s called “sundown towns.” In these towns, which were primarily in northern states, it was unsafe for African-Americans to be in the town after dark. The condition was enforced both through official policy and through intimidation and violence. Though the phrase sundown town is historical, its legacies carry on for many of these cities.

Considering this backdrop, Farrell asks Clark what Norman is doing to make the transition to 100% renewable energy as inclusive as possible. One group within Norman, the Norman Citizens for Racial Justice, has provided a list of action items to the city. Clark describes their concerns as based upon environmental problems: access to resources, food deserts, energy affordability, access to renewables, and clean drinking water. Clark stresses that city officials must listen to the concerns of residents and not make assumptions on what their needs are. Within this framework, an inclusive plan to transition Norman to 100% renewable energy will be on its way.

We are doing our part. And like any community, we can always do better, but I’m excited to move forward with that in mind. We need to make sure these people are included in our communities and are part of the discussion.

Where to Find Inspiration

Mayor Clark attended school in Wichita, Kansas, at Maize High School. There, teacher Stan Bergkamp has started an initiative to power the school with solar. After raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through crowdfunding and corporate donors, the Maize High School solar garden went online in June of 2019. Clark is inspired by how her former teacher built community around solar and was unafraid to try something new.

Her final advice?

Partnerships and collaborations are key. Norman needed public-private partnerships and community involvement in order to even create its ambitious commitment. In Norman and everywhere, a committee making a timeline will not result in 100% renewable energy. Rather, the simultaneous work of the city, environmental justice organizations, the Sierra Club, private groups, and residents will advance this goal.

It’s never too late to get started until it is, so get started as soon as you can.


Want to hear other stories of how communities are building local power and supporting renewable energy?

Stay-tuned for future episodes of the Local Energy Rules podcast, now every two weeks.

Episode Notes

Sundown towns:

Maize High School, Kansas:

 

For concrete examples of how cities can take action toward gaining more control over their clean energy future, explore ILSR’s Community Power Toolkit.

Explore local and state policies and programs that help advance clean energy goals across the country, using ILSR’s interactive Community Power Map.


This is the 13th episode of our special  Voices of 100% series, and 84th of Local Energy Rules, an ILSR podcast with Energy Democracy Director John Farrell, which shares powerful stories of successful local renewable energy and exposes the policy and practical barriers to its expansion.

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update

Featured Photo Credit: Tim Klapdor via Flikr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Facebooktwitterredditmail
Maria McCoy
Follow Maria McCoy:
Maria McCoy

Maria McCoy is a research associate with the Energy Democracy Initiative. In this role, she contributes to blog posts, podcasts, video content, and interactive features.

John Farrell
Follow John Farrell:
John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.

Maria McCoy
Follow Maria McCoy:
Maria McCoy is a research associate with the Energy Democracy Initiative. In this role, she contributes to blog posts, podcasts, video content, and interactive features.