Printed in the Durango Herald September 7, 2019
“If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” This famous quote coined by Zig Ziglar was taken to heart by the City of Durango on August 20th at their regularly scheduled board meeting (see Herald August 27th article). Never heard of Zig? He was an American author, salesman, and motivational speaker. I think he nailed it. How are we supposed to work toward a common goal as a community if none is set?
In my May 18, 2019 column on local, renewable energy, I reported that the City of Durango had not yet adopted local, renewable energy goals. I am proud to report that in response to significant business and resident support, and with a little inspiration from Zig, the City of Durango has adopted the following goals on behalf of both the City of Durango municipal operations and the community:
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Goal: 80% from 2016 levels by 2050, with an interim goal of 30% from 2016 levels by 2030.
- Renewable Electricity Goal: 100% Renewable Electricity by 2050, with an interim goal of 50% Renewable Electricity by 2030.
This is democracy in action. On October 15, 2017, Local First and San Juan Citizens Alliance presented a renewable energy petition to the Durango City Council. 111 businesses and 952 city residents signed on to this petition “to support 100% of the City’s community-wide energy needs with renewables by 2050, with 80% of electricity generated locally by 2030.” The City Council then brought this request to the La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) at their annual lunch the next day.
Since that time, LPEA has adopted its own goal to reduce its carbon footprint in 2030 by 50% from 2018 levels, while keeping its cost of electricity lower than 70% of its Colorado rural electric cooperative peers. And the State of Colorado has also set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% by 2025; at least 50% by 2030; and at least 90% by 2050 from 2005 levels.
On August 6, 2019, Local First and San Juan Citizens Alliance updated the City Council with data showing that 1,600 city residents and 120 local businesses had signed on to the resolution and asked again for the City to consider adopting a local, renewable energy goal. As stated in their August 20th board packet, the city adopted their goal “to be consistent with many cities and towns in Colorado and across the U.S., and in recognition of the community interest expressed through recent petitions and public input.”
We applaud the City Council for welcoming this public input! In fact, on August 6th Mayor Youssef had the cameras turn to show the audience holding “We Are 100% Clean Energy” signs (see Herald August 7th article). Less than two weeks later, Resolution 5.5 was adopted in the consent agenda.
Now the tough work of implementation is upon us. We have expressed a desire to dive into the details with the City and are confident that the broad goals of setting greenhouse gas emission reductions will allow the achievement of our goals through everything from composting to electric vehicle charging stations. In fact, we are asking the City of Durango to initiate a process to include how each item in the 2020 budget impacts this new goal. By doing this for every department, the City will be able to make headway on its new sustainability goals immediately, without waiting for new sources of funding. According to a September 3rd Durango Herald article, the City is already working on connecting these dots.
Hats off to the leadership demonstrated by the Durango City Council and City staff. We look forward to working with you on the very important details of achieving these sustainability goals for our community. Doing so will directly support both our economy and our environment, reflecting the Local First triple bottom line mission statement “to build an economy that values people, the planet, and prosperity for everyone.” To learn more about Local First’s Power Local campaign, visit https://foundation.local-first.org/power-local/
Monique DiGiorgio is Executive Director of the Local First Foundation in Durango. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.