Evanston listed among top green power users by Environmental Protection Agency

Billy Kobin, Reporter

Evanston was named to the Environmental Protection Agency’s quarterly list of largest green power users earlier this year.

The city appeared last on the EPA’s top 30 local government list, released Jan. 25. The list encompasses governments involved in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, which includes governments and governmental agencies that meet several green energy usage requirements, among them stipulations on minimum green power use based on overall governmental energy use and appropriate sourcing of green energy.

Evanston has made the EPA’s list several times, first in July 2014 when the city was ranked at number 20. Kumar Jensen, the city’s acting sustainability manager, said Evanston’s ranking fell due to the time frame of the recorded measurements and the fact that other, larger cities have increased their green power usage since 2014. The city’s green power usage has remained steady, Jensen added.

According to the EPA’s list, Evanston produces more than 12.5 million kilowatt-hours of green energy annually. This amount represents 68 percent of the city’s total energy use for city operations and Evanston-owned facilities.

“Using 100 percent renewable energy is not only good for our community and the environment, it furthers Evanston’s goal of being the most livable city in America,” Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said in a news release.

Evanston’s green power comes from solar and wind energy sources, according to the EPA’s list. Jensen said the city’s solar power comes from the rooftop solar panel system at the Evanston Water Treatment Plant, 555 Lincoln St., and the city purchases wind power through renewable energy certificates.

Jensen said Evanston is continuing to work toward its goals under the city’s Livability Plan, which calls for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2016 compared to 2005 emission levels. The city’s electricity aggregation program helps to achieve some of the plan’s goals related to residential and business green power, Jensen said.

“Our (Community Choice Electricity Aggregation) plan allows us to purchase green power through the community, which allows us to make large strides in meeting our climate action goals,” Jensen said.

The combined annual green power usage among the 30 local government units in the EPA’s list totals more than 3.8 billion kilowatt-hours, according to the list. Houston ranked first on the latest list with more than 951 million kilowatt-hours of green energy produced, representing 80 percent of Houston’s total energy usage.

The only other Illinois partner that made the EPA’s list was the Chicago Park District at number 8. The Chicago Park District produces more than 84 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, according to the list.

Jonathan Nieuwsma, vice president of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, said CGE was pleased with Evanston making the EPA’s list again, and he said CGE will continue to encourage residents to sign up for the community’s aggregation program.

“Moving forward, Citizens’ Greener Evanston will be encouraging the roughly one-third of Evanston households that aren’t participating to get involved in the aggregation program,” Nieuwsma said. “It’s great that Evanston is getting some national recognition, and I hope we can keep it up.”

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