Energy Sovereignty, Security, and Democracy in Carbondale, Illinois

Energy Sovereignty is an approach to energy resources that prioritizes public ownership/decision-making to foster local self-sufficiency, improved capacity, resource conservation, community wealth-building, political autonomy, and lasting economic prosperity.

On Tuesday, May 23, the City Council of Carbondale, Illinois heard a promising presentation about “Energy Sovereignty, Security, and Democracy” at a regular City Council meeting at the Carbondale Civic Center.

The full title of the presentation was “Community GHG [Greenhouse Gas] Inventory Baseline 2019 and Energy Sovereignty, Security, and Democracy.”

The first part of the presentation provided an overview of Carbondale’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the baseline year of 2019. This year will serve as a baseline for the city’s future GHG emissions assessments and mitigation efforts. The presentation included breakdowns of Carbondale’s annual CO2 emissions by use category, an overview of five major problems facing the city’s existing energy system, and the economic, social, and environmental consequences of those problems.

The second part of the presentation outlined a proposal to use the direct payment provision of the Inflation Reduction Act Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to develop a major new municipal “solar plus storage” system. When completed, this municipally-owned system would provide every single home and locally-owned small business in the City of Carbondale with low-to-no-cost renewable energy under a maximum use threshold. It would also provide competitively-priced renewable energy to non-locally owned businesses and large business (i.e. industry, big box stores, healthcare, higher education) and competitively-priced renewable energy to non-local entities through the grid in order to fund the city’s community subsidy.

Lauren Becker, Planner and Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Carbondale, offered the following summary of the proposal at the end of her presentation.

In very simplified terms, the Inflation Reduction Act has made publicly owned renewable energy + storage assets affordable in a once in a lifetime way.

The City of Carbondale has the opportunity to capitalize on this affordability to prove a new rural energy system model that decarbonizes our energy supply, prioritizes collaboration with existing utility providers, and secures lasting economic prosperity in our community.

I’ll definitely write more about this proposal and its implications soon. In the meantime, if you’d like more information, you can check out the presentation for more detailed slides and notes or contact Lauren Becker.

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