SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. -- A small city in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains is making a significant change.
South Lake Tahoe plans to run off 100% carbon-free renewable energy by 2030.
The city is known for its crisp winter weather, beautiful scenery and outdoor attractions. Now, city leaders have an ambitious goal aimed at protecting the environment that is so crucial to this city’s character.
"(This is) the most aggressive target for carbon-free renewable electricity in the United States," South Lake Tahoe Mayor Devin Middlebrook said. "We’ve always been a global leader in the environment, and this is just one of those consistent steps forward."
Middlebrook said the city already gets about 40% of its electricity from renewable sources, but events this summer convinced city leaders that they needed to go to 100%.
"The blunt of climate change was really on our community this year," Middlebrook said.
The Caldor Fire came close to destroying the mountain city, and drought has added strain on the community.
"We’re really seeing those impacts that we typically think of as the next century and 100 years out," Middlebrook said. "We’re feeling those today. So, we really need to act to make sure that we have these wonderful winters moving forward."
The city will be using a mix of wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower combined with battery storage to achieve its renewable goal.
"Obviously, there is an upfront cost when you’re investing in things like solar and renewable energy projects, but they also have a return on investment," Middlebrook said.
Still, the mayor said there wouldn’t be any new taxes associated with the turn toward renewables and hopes the true benefit would be the preservation of the Sierra for years to come.
"I want to ensure that future generations can have the same experience. Enjoying the lake, swimming in the waters, hiking, skiing -- all of that is really so important for our community and the future generations, and I think it’s something that we as the current stewards and leaders of the community need to do," Middlebrook said.
The city’s goal might be lofty, but Middlebrook said that bold action needs to be taken now to combat climate change, and he’s inviting other cities across the U.S. to take similar steps.