Athens-Clarke County Commits to 100% Clean and Renewable Energy

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Athens is the 4th city to make 100% commitment in Georgia

Environment Georgia

Athens, GA — Tonight, the Athens-Clarke County (ACC) Commission unanimously voted to adopt a community wide goal of 100% clean and renewable electricity by 2035. The vote means Athens will join Atlanta, Augusta, and Clarkston in the transition away from energy sources that pollute the environment and contribute to climate change.

“We applaud Mayor Girtz and the Commission for their visionary leadership,” said Cary Ritzler, the Director of Environment Georgia’s 100% Athens Project. “Whether it’s increasingly severe droughts or extreme storms the impacts of climate change are not just future threats — they’re already here; This bold goal will help ensure that Athens joins cities and states across the country in the fight for a cleaner and safer environment for generations to come.”

The resolution that passed was sponsored by all 10 commissioners and lays out a timeline that will take ACC from roughly 15% clean and renewable energy to 100%:

  • ACC will meet 100% of its energy needs from clean and renewable energy sources produced on‐or‐for Unified Government properties by 2035, further by 2050 ACC will generate 60% of its renewable energy locally.

  • The broader community of Athens‐Clarke County will obtain 100% of its electricity needs from  clean and renewable sources by 2035.

  • All other energy needs (transportation, etc.) will be met by 100% clean and renewable energy sources by 2050.

The resolution also emphasized the need to transition to a just and equitable energy future. Analysis leading up to the drafting of the resolution found that many households in Athens-Clarke County spend an above average percentage of their monthly income on electricity.

“This new approach to energy in our community means we can combat climate change and work to redress historical inequities in our community that have often been faced by people of color,” explained Nnenne Onyioha-Clayton who serves on the board of Athens 100% and is the Vice Chair of Athens for Everyone.

100% Athens, an organization made up of ACC activists, spearheaded efforts to include funding for clean and renewable energy in the SPLOST package that will be presented to ACC voters in November 2019. Roughly $15 million in clean and renewable energy SPLOST projects have been endorsed by the ACC’s SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee.

“From Atlanta to Augusta to Clarkston and now to Athens, more and more Georgia communities are taking a stand for 100% clean, renewable energy for all. As we work toward a stable climate and a future where everyone has access to affordable electricity, clean air, family-sustaining jobs, and the benefits of a local clean energy economy, the Sierra Club looks forward to continuing to partner with residents, businesses, and community and state leaders to build a better Georgia for all,” said Marquese Averett with the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The passage of the resolution kicks off an 18 month long process that will seek input from stakeholders in and around ACC including utilities like Georgia Power and Walton EMC. Athens joins 124 other cities across the U.S. committed to 100% clean, renewable energy.

On May 10th ACC’s Sustainability Officer spoke to Public Service Commissioners and urged them to work in partnership with the County and urge more solar and efficiency in Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Planning Process.

“It feels really good to take action locally,” said Mary Songster who sits on the board of Athens 100%. “I’m proud to live in a community where leadership understands the value of transitioning to clean and renewable energy for everyone.”