Dayton turns to renewable energy in city buildings to save money, fight climate change

The city of Dayton says it is taking significant steps to reduce its carbon footprint to help address climate change while also saving taxpayer dollars.

The city on Friday announced that its longtime electric supplier, IGS Energy, will transition some municipal facilities to 100% renewable energy product from green hydro-power resources.

Dayton says its decision to switch to “green electricity” will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 45 million miles of driving by the average passenger vehicle.

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Climate change is one of the most urgent challenges facing the planet, and the city wants to do its part to combat the threat, said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

“This agreement is a critical first step in a series of moves aimed to remake Dayton into a more sustainable and resilient community.”

The city will use hydro power from dams in North Carolina and elsewhere to power all of its facilities, except for its water and wastewater plants and the Dayton International Airport, though the city is still exploring renewable-energy projects like solar for those properties, said Mark Charles, Dayton’s sustainability manager.

The switch to hydro power saves money because green power costs less than the fossil fuel-based, he said.

IGS says it is providing the city with a green energy product, which means it has procured renewable energy credits (RECs) generated from hydropower plants to meet the city’s energy-use requirements.

“When IGS purchases (renewable energy credits) on behalf of our customers, we take ownership of renewable energy that’s being fed to the grid,” a spokesperson said. “Once energy reaches the grid, it mixes together with the energy from other sources.”

The city also is looking at making changes to transportation and solid waste management and switching much of its gas-powered fleet over to electric vehicles.

Charles said weeks from now he expects to release a comprehensive sustainability strategy for the city that currently has 70 recommended projects.

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The city commission is expected to take up the strategic plan next month.

Last year, Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein the sustainability manager position and appointed Charles, with the goal to help the city become more environmentally friendly.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to any meaningful climate action plan,” Dickstein said. “This investment in green energy also saves the taxpayers money, further demonstrating that we can do the right thing while also making wise financial investments.”

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