What will happen by 2050? For the Town of Chapel Hill, it might be 100 percent clean, renewable energy.
A “climate reality group” consisting of local citizens introduced a petition that would help the Town achieve this goal at the Town Council’s April 10 meeting. The petition was then referred to the mayor and town manager, and the council will now gather input from the community.
If the council accepts the petition's advice, it would be expected to commit to transitioning the Town from a fossil fuel-based economy to 100 percent clean and renewable energy for all energy sectors by Jan. 1, 2050.
Kim Piracci, chairperson of the Climate Reality Triangle Group, who filed the petition, said people cannot wait for the federal government to take action on climate change and that individuals and local governments will have to do it.
"Chapel Hill has shown itself to be leaders, in other ways, and I think this is one way they can show themselves to be leaders," she said.
Jason West, a UNC environmental sciences and engineering professor, acknowledged the petition’s feasibility.
“Going 100 percent to clean energy is looking much more feasible thanks to recent technological innovations,” he said in an email. “Solar and wind power have become much less costly and are comparable to or even less than the costs of coal-fired electricity. The costs and capabilities of battery storage of electricity have also fallen, which makes a transformation to solar and wind power more feasible.”
Another UNC environmental sciences and engineering professor, Felix Dodds, who is also active in the United Nations, said he's pleased with the petition’s goal.
To meet the petition's requests, Dodds recommended the Town increase its solar coverage and adopt legislation to include solar coverage in building regulations. He said the Town could also encourage residents to adopt solar alternatives.