Cities and the Low-Carbon Grid
52 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2016 Last revised: 21 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 1, 2016
Over the last decade, cities across the nation have pursued local initiatives to mitigate climate change. These efforts, however, have been significantly hampered by cities’ dependence on an electric power industry that has fought climate policies at the state and federal levels to defend its reliance on fossil fuels. Yet changes now underway in the electricity sector — including President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and related initiatives — are unsettling the traditional utility model and fueling a low-carbon shift that will affect federal, regional, state, and local levels of energy governance. This Article maps the evolving landscape for cities and the low-carbon grid at this critical juncture, and is the first to take up the implications of the U.S. grid transition for cities working to align their electricity profile with community climate aspirations. In charting existing and emerging approaches to community-scale utility ownership and energy localization, the Article shows how the legal landscape shapes cities’ potential to advance the low-carbon grid.
Keywords: cities, local government, renewable energy, municipal, local climate action, climate change, electricity, low-carbon
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