Renewable energy is obtained from resources that cannot be depleted, such as wind, hydro, and solar. In the Midwest, burned coal and natural gas fossil fuels supply most of the electricity on the grid. This is changing. Michigan utilities now supply around 10% of the electricity from renewables due to regulatory requirements put in place in 2008, and a much higher minimum of renewables is possible.
Ann Arbor's Climate Action Plan
identifies six actions to increase the use of renewable energy communitywide. The City reached its original goal to use the equivalent of 20% renewable energy for municipal operations in 2010. The City is now working to further expand the use of renewable energy sources for municipal operations and communitywide but progress at the state is necessary to allow for a larger share of renewable energy to power homes, business, and industry.
Ann Arbor's Energy Commission also works to help give a voice to emerging renewable energy opportunities. In keeping with this mission, in the summer of 2017, the Energy Commission recommended that the City Council consider a resolution to actively support federal Carbon Fee and Dividend (CFD) legislation. In August of that year, the City council approved this resolution. CFD would set a national fee on fossil fuels, thus stimulating investment in renewable energy as the price of fossil fuels rises.
What projects are completed and underway?
- Sun in Southeast Michigan can provide a significant percentage of our community's energy needs. According to the US Department of Energy, this clean renewable resource is available to southeast Michiganders an average of 4-6 hours daily. If every residential building in Ann Arbor had a one kilowatt solar electric system on the roof, we could generate over 30 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity each year or about 10% of the Ann Arbor's 2000 residential electrical use. The City is exploring ways to implement community solar (or "solar gardens") to increase residential use of
solar hot water and
solar electric. A donor-driven community solar project was completed in 2013 at the landmark
Michigan Theater in partnership with the Clean Energy Coalition. Our
Farmers Market is also partly solar-powered, thanks to Ann Arbor's partnership with the US Department of Energy's "Solar Cities" initiative and with support from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
- The City generates electricity from captured landfill gas, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from methane. Total landfill gas collected from Sep 1996 through Dec 2005 equaled 1.64 billion cubic feet. This is equivalent to
removing 623,800 tons of CO2 from our atmosphere. By displacing electricity that DTE would have generated primarily by burning coal this saves another 39,300 tons of CO2. Electricity production from landfill gas (per year) From 1998 to 2015 the landfill gas averaged 4,000-5,000 MWh/year.
- With funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the City of Ann Arbor, and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum are partnering on a new wind energy education program. This program will include programs throughout the community and development of new permanent and traveling wind energy exhibits.
Two hydro-electric dams (Barton & Superior) on the Huron River generate over 8,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year.