On Tuesday, September 5, The Orange County Commissioners approved a resolution to transition to a 100 percent renewable energy based economy by 2050.

In April 2017, on behalf of the North Carolina Climate Solutions Coalition (NCCSC), a group or Orange County residents contacted Commissioner Renee Price to request that the Orange County Board of Commissioners consider the adoption of a resolution stating a commitment to transition to a 100% renewable energy based economy by 2050, according to Tuesday’s meeting agenda. 

Orange County is not the first to adopt this resolution, as 10 other local governments across North Carolina have pledged their commitment to clean energy. 

Background on the adoption, from the meeting abstract:

The core scientific framework of this initiative was laid out in a Stanford University and University of California-Berkeley study which concludes that the US energy supply move to 100% renewable energy by the year 2050 using current technologies while creating green jobs and promoting economic development.

The draft resolution prepared by the NCCSC was referred to the Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation as well as the Commission for the Environment (CFE) for review. Over the course of two monthly meetings in May and June, the CFE interviewed the residents and reviewed the draft resolution and background. After review and discussion, the CFE amended the original draft resolution to clarify that it applies to Orange County as well as to the state and the nation. The edited resolution was satisfactory to the residents who brought it forward.

Based on the potential environmental and economic benefits related to transitioning to renewable energy, the CFE now recommends the adoption of this resolution by the Board of Orange County Commissioners. 

Financial Impact:

Given the steeply declining price of utility-scale renewable energy production nationwide, and the idea that most if not all current fossil fuel-based power plants will need to be replaced before 2050, it is reasonable to expect market forces to drive a transition to renewable energy. The CFE therefore expects that there will be no financial impact to Orange County associated with consideration of this resolution.

Social Justice Impact:

The following Orange County Social Justice Goal is applicable to this item:

Goal:

Establish Sustainable and Equitable Land-use and Environmental Policies

The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people of all races, cultures, incomes and educational levels with respect to the development and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, policies, and decisions. Fair treatment means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies. 

The significant reduction in harmful air emissions that will accompany a transition to a renewable energy-based economy would significantly reduce the burden of chronic diseases like asthma in the most susceptible communities. 

Climate change:

Following behind other cities, counties, states, colleges, and universities, Orange County acknowledged the astounding consequences of climate change currently and projected for the future. 

With this, they adopted the resolution:

“Now, Therefore, Be it resolved that the Orange County Board of Commissioners does hereby approve of the following:

Section 1: Orange County, the State of North Carolina, and the United States shall transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a 100% clean renewable energy for all energy sectors-based economy, by January 1, 2050 or sooner to avoid climate catastrophe, to promote job creation and economic growth, and to protect the Earth for current and future generations from climate catastrophe.

Section 2: This resolution is effective upon adoption.”

For the full resolution of the OCBCC in support of a local, state, and national goal of 100% clean energy by 2050 and the creation of green jobs, see the Orange County website. 

As Orange County moves towards this goal, so does the Town of Hillsborough. At the Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, September 11, a similar resolution was proposed. For the final vote and updates, visit our website.