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Energy Resources for State and Local Governments

Local Renewable Energy Benefits and Resources

Green Power Opportunities

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Overview

Local governments can dramatically reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing or directly generating electricity from clean, renewable sources.

The most common renewable power technologies include:

  • Solar (photovoltaic, solar thermal)
  • Wind
  • Biogas (e.g., landfill gas/wastewater treatment digester gas)
  • Geothermal
  • Biomass
  • Low-impact hydroelectricity
  • Emerging technologies - wave and tidal power

Local governments can lead by example by generating energy on–site, purchasing green power, or purchasing renewable energy. Using a combination of renewable energy options can help meet local government goals especially in some regions where availability and quality of renewable resources vary.

Options for using renewable energy include:

  • Generating renewable energy on-site using a system or device at the location where the power is used (e.g., PV panels on a state building, geothermal heat pumps, biomass-fueled combined heat and power).

  • Purchasing green power through through renewable energy certificates (RECs) - also known as green tags, green energy certificates, or tradable renewable certificates – that represent the technology and environmental attributes of electricity generated from renewable resources.

  • Purchasing renewable energy from an electric utility through a green pricing or green marketing program, where buyers pay a small premium in exchange for electricity generated locally from green power resources.

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Benefits of Renewable Energy

Environmental and economic benefits of using renewable energy include:

  • Generating energy that produces no greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and reduces some types of air pollution
  • Diversifying energy supply and reducing dependence on imported fuels
  • Creating economic development and jobs in manufacturing, installation, and more

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Implementing On-site Renewable Energy Projects

On-site power generation provides local governments with the most direct access to renewable energy. In addition to the overall benefits, on-site projects also provide a hedge against financial risks and improve power quality and supply reliability.

However, local governments considering on-site generation may face possible technical, financial, and regulatory challenges. To overcome these challenges, local governments can:

  • Assess the availability of local renewable resources
  • Consider the costs of different renewable technologies
  • Examine the aggregate costs and benefits of on-site green power
  • Consider permitting requirements for locations where the facility could be sited
  • Involve local stakeholders, particularly concerning siting
  • Assess available sources of financing and other incentives

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Tools and Resources

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