San Francisco has always had a reputation as an environmentally conscious city, however it has set its sights on becoming the greenest city in the country by turning 100% sustainable by 2020. The plan was announced by outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom, who last week launched an initiative to make the city fully ‘green’ within a decade. Announced by Newsom during his speech at the completion of the Sunset Reservoir Solar Project, the project is the largest municipal solar facility in the state, and covers an area said to be the size of 12 football fields. While the plant has tripled the amount of solar energy made available to the state, Newsom is now aiming even higher.

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San Francisco in thefuture?

The mayor announced a $250,000 grant from the Sidney Frank Foundation to assess how to meet the city’s 950-megawatt peak power demand with nothing but renewables by 2020. While the 5MW solar plant is a good start, San Francisco already has an impressive renewable record, including 10 MW of distributed solar and 3.5 MW of biogas – this leaves more than 900 MW to the generation portfolio of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power system.

So what future plans does Newsom have up his sleeve? Firstly the state is expected to increase the amount of wave-derived energy from 30 MW to 100 MW, with local officials set to launch a 1 MW to 3 MW wave pilot project next year.

Speaking to the New York Times, Johanna Partin, environmental policy adviser to Newsom siad, “All of these details need to be looked at very carefully. We need to look at what we can do in the city to reduce our energy consumption overall. Energy efficiency will be the biggest and most important part of this.”She also countered any accusations that the plan was merely a publicity stunt saying, “I think it’s a very aggressive goal. I think it’s absolutely doable.”

San Francisco Environment Director Melanie Nutter added that the city should be able to meet these goals if the city faces these challenges the same way it has handled its recycling program. “Some say it’s an impossible goal to achieve, but they said the same thing about San Francisco’s recycling goal, that we would never be able to achieve 75% diversion by 2010,” she said. “In fact, we surpassed it and have already reached a 77% diversion rate.” She added, “I know that we can achieve 100%t renewably generated electricity by 2020.”

If any city in the U.S. manage to make themselves 100% sustainable within a decade, the smart money would be to bet on San Francisco.

+ San Francisco

via New York Times

Image © Radhika Bhagwat