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Traverse City energy could be completely renewable by 2050

Courtesy of Kate Madigan

The Next Idea

Last month, Traverse City officials pledged that by the year 2020, all city operations will be powered by renewable energy. That means traffic signals, street lights, and city-owned buildings will get their power from wind, solar, and other clean sources.

Kate Madigan, the Energy and Climate Specialist for the Michigan Environmental Council and director of the Michigan Climate Action Network, joined Stateside to talk about the ambitious effort and if this could be a trend for other cities in the state.

Traverse City is not alone in this effort. They would join 20 other cities that are working toward the same goal, with three of them already claiming success.

Madigan said the campaign started with residents reaching out to city leaders, like Mayor Jim Carruthers, who were already on board with shifting to renewables. Since Mayor Carruthers and other city officials were already in favor of the idea, it didn't require a lot of convincing.

This plan is for all city operations to be powered by renewable energy in four years, but what about the rest of the city, like private homes and businesses?

Madigan said that is the next phase of this project. They are planning to create a "green team" to come up with a plan to convert the entire city by the middle of the century. It will not be a small effort, but that's down the road. For the immediate future, the plan is to get city operations on board by 2020. 

Listen to the full interview below to hear about some of the logistics involved with the local power company using renewable energy and how they are aiming to lay out a blueprint for other cities and towns to follow in their footsteps. 

The Next Idea is Michigan Radio's project devoted to new innovations and ideas that will change our state.

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