Tempe Sets Sights on Solar with Clean Energy Goal

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Environment Arizona

TEMPE – Thursday night, the Tempe City Council passed a clean energy goal for city government operations of 20 percent by 2025. The goal was put forward by a sustainability working group of the Tempe City Council, which includes Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, Vice Mayor Onnie Shekerjian and Councilmember Shana Ellis.

”The City of Tempe has long been committed to sustainability,” said Mayor Mitchell. “From being one of the first communities in the Valley with recycling program to our new grease cooperative that eventually could produce biofuels, Tempe is at the forefront.”

Setting a clean energy goal reflects Tempe’s trend toward solar energy. To achieve the goal, the city will look to put in place more projects like the recent solar installation at the South Water Treatment Plant, a project that is expected to save the city $2.3 million over 20 years and will help lower carbon emissions.

”Increasing Tempe’s use of renewable energy will make the city even more efficient and effective in providing services for our community,” said Vice Mayor Shekerjian. “This is beneficial for Tempe in many ways.”

Like much of Arizona, Tempe has vast untapped solar resources and benefits from over 300 days of sunshine each year. Yet, the majority of the city’s energy currently comes from sources like coal and gas that contribute to air pollution and climate change.

We heard from many residents who expressed that having a goal was vitally important to them and their community,” said Councilmember Ellis. “I am happy that Tempe is at the forefront among cities making these commitments.”

At a Tempe Committee of the Whole meeting in May, council members discussed revisiting the proposed clean energy goal periodically so as to provide the opportunity to increase the 20 percent goal. The council may revisit the target as early as this fall.

“Thanks to leaders like Mayor Mitchell, Vice Mayor Shekerjian and Councilmember Ellis, Tempe is moving ahead toward a solar future,” said Environment Arizona Advocate Bret Fanshaw. “Solar energy greatly benefits Tempe because it is pollution-free and has no fuel costs. We look forward to working with the Mayor, Vice Mayor and Tempe council members to take this goal to the next level as they look for ways to continue to expand the use of solar power.”

Tempe recently opted into the Solar Roadmap program with the Department of Energy, which provides free tools to city staff and policy makers to help meet renewable energy goals and other similar targets set by the city.

The solar industry also showed their support for setting a clean energy goal, noting the economic benefits of putting solar on homes and public buildings.

“The Arizona Solar Energy Industry Association applauds Tempe’s effort to encourage more solar development,” said AriSEIA’s President, Mark Holohan. “This policy means more solar jobs in a market still struggling to replace construction jobs lost in the recession. Everyone benefits from less pollution and conserving fuels and water.”