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Residents hope Sarasota County takes the Ready for 100 pledge

The pledge says the county will be run with 100% renewable energy by 2045.

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  • | 12:00 p.m. March 19, 2020
If the pledge is approved, solar power would be one of the major sources of renewable energy.
If the pledge is approved, solar power would be one of the major sources of renewable energy.
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Ask many people what they think the world will look like in 2045, and they might start talking about flying cars or a new kind of communication method, but some Sarasota residents envision a county that runs 100% on renewable energy.

Local members of the Sierra Club hope to get county leaders to sign the Ready for 100 pledge, which asks them to commit to full use of renewable energy countywide by 2045.

If leaders sign on, they are agreeing to work toward all county buildings and operations being run with 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Then by 2045, the entire county — including private businesses and homes — would be powered by renewable energy. If the county were to sign the pledge, it would work to create a long-term plan and offer incentives for switching to renewable systems.

Although this goal seems ambitious, Lynn Nilssen, co-organizer for the Sarasota Ready for 100 campaign, said the U.S. is in a good place to make the campaign happen.

“What happened in the past was that the economics around renewable energy were not competitive with fossil fuels,” Nilssen said. “But that has all changed in the last five years. The implementation of renewable energy has ramped up.”

Department of Energy report found that since 2014, the average cost of solar panels has dropped nearly 50%. The latest National Renewable Energy Laboratory quarterly solar update found that eight states generate more than 5% of their electricity from solar, with California leading the way at 19%.

“What all of this is telling us is that the future of energy is in renewables,” Nilssen said. “Somewhere around the world every day, the sun is shining, and the wind is blowing.”

As the U.S. market switches toward renewable energy, Nilssen said there needs to be policy change, which is where government pledges come in. 

More than 150 cities nationwide have signed on and 10 in Florida have committed, including the city of Sarasota. 

Nilssen said the group is in early conversations with the county and is collecting petition signatures from community members.

County sustainability program supervisor Sara Kane said the Ready for 100 program is not yet something the county has signed on for, but it offers incentives to reach similar goals of the program, such as a green building resolution for county buildings and a challenge for county headquarters to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Kane said the county is constantly looking for ways to help make the area greener.

“With the county, we can make a big impact because we do have a lot of buildings, and we are paying a lot for utilities, and we are creating a lot of energy,” Kane said. “So anything that we can do to reduce that is a good thing.”

At home, Kane said residents can look to install solar panels or reduce their water consumption.

One resident who has taken such measures is Charles Reith, a member of the Ready for 100 campaign. He installed about $13,000 worth of solar panels on his home and took other energy-saving measures, such as switching all his light bulbs to LED and installing energy-efficient windows.

Although it did take an upfront investment, Reith said he already is saving on his energy bills.

“It does take a bit of capital investment, so people with a short view will say, ‘I don’t want to spend money on that,’” Reith said. “But there are financing options or solar co-ops, and then your savings immediately begin to payoff.”


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