Solving Cities

Is 100% renewable energy in Cincinnati's future?

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Cincinnati is leveraging a unique tool that could make it the largest city in the U.S. to use 100 percent renewable energy.

Can a city power its electricity grid using only renewable energy?

Cincinnati is exploring the possibility. And if they make the switch, the city will be the largest in the U.S. to get its electricity from 100 percent renewable sources, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports.

But how would it work?

It turns out that Ohio is one of a handful of states with a community choice aggregation law that allows municipalities to shop around for the best electricity deal, John Farrell, director of Energy and Self-Reliant States, explains:

Community choice aggregation allows municipalities to choose their electricity supplier(s) but without requiring them to buy out the local electricity grid from the incumbent utility (who remains responsible for reliability and billing).  It's a tool that's being used to achieve lower rates, greater percentages of clean energy, and local clean energy development in dozens of communities in five states, with more on the way.

Last November, voters passed a ballot initiative to allow the city to collectively choose a new electricity provider. If the city council moves forward with this initiative, the city would require potential electricity providers to give bids for both the cheapest electricity option and the option for 100 percent renewable electricity.

Last year, a Chicago suburb using the energy aggregation tool got bids from potential energy providers that were so competitive between the traditional options and the 100 percent renewable option that the suburb went with the 100 percent renewable option.

For now, Cincinnati gets 85 percent of its electricity from coal-burning power plants, which causes the city to have some of the worst air pollution in the United States. So it's no stretch to say that making the switch to 100 percent renewables would be a big, clean deal for The Queen City.

Photo: haglundc/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure