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Changing how we produce and consume energy provides one of the best opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and create a more resilient community. By replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy options, such as solar and wind, Indianapolis can leapfrog other cities across the nation as a leader on climate action.
– Thrive Indianapolis Plan, February 2019
In February 2019, city leaders released a plan called Thrive Indianapolis to chart a course for a future for Indianapolis and its citizens that is equitable, healthier, and prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. It was a bold step forward made better by an actionable plan.
Like many cities across America, Indianapolis is concerned about climate change. A 2018 study by Pew Research found that 59% of Americans perceive climate change as a serious threat. Given this, Thrive Indianapolis’ plan has a major focus on energy.
Among Thrive Indianapolis’ energy objectives is to create a pathway toward 100% renewable energy use by 2028. However, you can’t eat the elephant in one gulp. So planners wisely set a goal of achieving 20% of energy consumed in Indianapolis to renewable sources by 2025. The city has already made good on its word. Two coal-fired power plants and a coal-fired steam plant have been converted to natural gas. This resulted in a 60 percent reduction in green house gas emissions related to energy generation.
Thrive Indianapolis also seeks to deploy strategies that will allow Indianapolis and communities within the city to overcome existing hurdles to solar energy installations, including financing, education on and assistance with solar cooperatives, and bulk purchasing contracts.
As an Indianapolis solar solutions provider, Solential applauds city leaders, business people, and concerned citizens who created and now support the Thrive Indianapolis plan. Transitioning to sustainable energy such as solar makes sense on many levels. In addition to quelling concerns about climate change, solar energy is an easy, proven, and increasingly affordable way for cities to achieve renewable energy goals. How do we know? We’ve been helping government and commercial clients convert to solar energy systems for a decade.
A step-by-step approach to self-powering your city
While it would be nice if we could flip a switch on our city’s energy sources as simply as we switch on lights in a room, real life doesn’t work that way. You have to have a strategy for converting something as complex as a city’s power sources to a new source.
Solential advises our municipal clients to transition to solar on a step-by-step basis. Adoption is easier and more practical if you target one aspect of your community, create a conversion strategy, execute, celebrate, and then move to the next solar energy opportunity. Here are logical municipal targets for making the solar switch:
Waste water treatment facilities. Every city has them and converting to solar is a significant win for everyone. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, cities gain greater control over energy costs by generating and consuming solar power. The benefit is passed along to citizens through their monthly water bill, which is less subject to energy-related spikes. Solential has converted wastewater treatment facilities across the country to solar. The process requires an average of six months from the approved plan to ribbon cutting, but can be much quicker based on the type and scope of the installation.
Schools. This is another significant opportunity with many added benefits. There are a number of ways to eliminate the initial cost of the solar system, which removes the financial barrier. School districts benefit from lower energy costs, leaving more funds for classrooms. The solar system itself becomes a STEM lab for students; curriculum can be created around the science and environmental impact of solar. Additionally, Solential gives schools the option to plant low maintenance, wild flower bee habitats under ground-mounted solar arrays, creating another learning opportunity. Lastly, what better way to demonstrate the importance of solar to younger generations and all citizens that solar powering schools?
Public Libraries. Today’s libraries have evolved from books and quiet time to now include computers, video and makers spaces. Doesn’t it make sense to update the energy source, too? Public libraries are notoriously underfunded, and every dollar spent on energy means less money for new technology, programs and other in-demand resources for library users. A solar energy system can reduce – and, in some cases, even eliminate – monthly energy bills, saving libraries money even after factoring in any upfront costs for equipment and installation. Going solar at the local library turns these traditional places of learning into places of sustainable energy inspiration in your community.
Municipal offices. What better way to lead by example than converting courthouses, police and fire stations, and administrative offices to solar? Solar arrays at high visibility locations clearly show a city’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. Controlling costs for public services is always a good thing!
Airports. Large energy consumers, airports are another great candidate for solar. Not to mention they often have large expanses of open land for ground-mounted systems, large terminals that can accommodate roof-mounted systems, and large parking lots that would be enhanced with solar parking canopies that provide shape and protection from the weather while collecting solar rays.
Achieving a self-powered city with solar energy is easy when you have a strategy and the right partner. To learn more about Solential and the services we provide, please visit our website. You can also schedule a consultation here.