On Monday, January 30th the Pasadena City Council set a policy goal of 100% carbon-free power.
By Wesley Reutimann
One of the most coal dependent communities in California – in 2021 Pasadena procured over 47% of its power from the dirty fossil fuel – Pasadena took a big step forward Monday evening, when the Pasadena City Council unanimously adopted a resolution declaring a climate emergency and adopting a goal of 100% carbon-free power by the end of 2023.
In doing so the City set a course to catch up with other communities that have adopted 100% clean power standards, such as local Clean Power Alliance members South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Alhambra, Claremont, and unincorporated Los Angeles County.
The change in City policy was championed by PASADENA 100, a coalition of 23 community organizations that spent the last nine months educating Pasadena residents about the opportunity to affordably transition to cleaner forms of power.
Peter Eisenhardt, writing on behalf of the coalition and the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church of Pasadena, underlined the broad community support for climate action. Over the summer the JPL scientist and other coalition volunteers collected over 1,315 postcards from residents in support of the Council action from venues all over the City – including Robinson Park, the Rose Bowl, Latino Festival, and the Farmer’s Market at Pasadena High School. In advance of Monday’s meeting, letters were submitted to the City Council: 75 in support of the resolution, and 2 opposed.
Following staff’s presentation Council Member Steve Madison inquired whether the City was committed to carbon-free electricity by 2030. City Manager Marquez noted that the resolution is non-binding but staff will do their “level best to achieve the goal,” while ensuring reliability and affordability. Councilmember Madison stressed that the home of Caltech and JPL should be a leader. “There’s a lot of wiggle room in this resolution. From my view this is a mandate. I want the record to show that the City is committed to carbon-free energy.”
Public comment was kicked off by Aria and Alicia Wang, students at Polytechnic School. “You are fighting for not only our futures, but also the futures of our friends and family.” The two seniors highlighted their efforts to decarbonize the school campus, which is planning to cover 50% of its electricity needs with rooftop solar. “No matter how many solar panels or heat pumps we install at our school, we cannot control the 50% of energy provided by PWP. Keep our futures in mind when you make your choices.”
In the coming months City staff and consultants will model at least two pathways to 100% clean power as part of Pasadena Water and Power’s regular energy planning process. The results of Pasadena’s “Integrated Resource Plan” (IRP) will then be presented to the public and City Council in late Spring 2023.
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