How do you plan on implementing renewable energy such as solar panels within the city of Tempe and how do you plan on funding these projects?
As a follow up, I am aware that ASU has previously partnered with a Chinese company by the name of Suntech that brought one of their plants to the Phoenix area. Do you believe that it makes sense to take advantage of an already established partnership?-Kim Bauer (ASU Undergraduate Business Sustainability Student)
New city solar projects would be a wise investment in the financial and environmental sustainability of Tempe. Although there is an initial investment in solar infrastructure and maintenance costs along the way, solar energy production will provide a long-term cost savings to the city. Therefore, a city bond for solar would make financial sense. I think we should certainly leverage existing partnerships between other governmental entities, especially ASU, and the solar industry to ensure that our taxpayers are getting the best deal. On the council, I’ll be proactively pro-solar. If you believe, like I do, that solar is a wise investment in our city’s future, I hope that I can earn your vote.
I am very supportive of our efforts to research and implement renewable energy opportunities in the City of Tempe. I am committed to our recently approved 20% minimum renewable energy goal and hope to see that increase over the years. We have already installed a solar system at the South Tempe Water Treatment Plant and have plans for three more solar projects in the near future. Also our efforts in recycling, composting, grease cooperative, and transitioning to N.G. efficient vehicles will contribute to our commitment to sustainability. However, it is important that also we utilize rebates, incentives and allocated resources to obtain this goal without passing on additional cost to our residents. It is also important that we expand our ASU, School District Partnerships and seek possible public/private partnerships to help plan and fund these projects.
I believe in partnership opportunities. I would like to know more about the company with whom ASU has partnered. I would certainly support exploring new partnership opportunities that will help us expand our renewable energy efforts.
The Council is tentatively moving towards solar and renewable energy, and I fully support recent advances, including the implementation of a goal for renewable energy powering city-government operations. I hope to see this goal strengthened in the coming months, as Council and staff gather more data on the potential for solar on City facilities. The City should also look beyond government operations and streamline solar-permitting processes for resident and businesses. Additionally, there are a number of steps the City could pursue to make solar more accessible to residents and businesses.
It’s hard to find an opportunity equal to what solar energy represents for Tempe. Every commercial-scale solar project installed in our city yields millions in energy savings for Tempe taxpayers, meaning anything short of a strong commitment to this energy source would be a fiscally questionable. Solar equals not only a more efficient city, but a city with more economic activity, as formerly unused rooftops and parking lots become safe local power plants.
I also believe that elected officials at all levels have a moral obligation to be stewards of our nation’s resources and our shared environment. By seizing upon clean local energy, Tempe can do its part to address air pollution, conserve water, and fight climate change, while creating local jobs.
Through power purchase agreements (PPAs) and other innovative financing arrangements, our City can take advantage of this abundant resource at low-to-zero upfront cost. This financing arrangement is common in cities around the country and is a large reason why ASU was able to install 23 megawatts of solar in just a few years. ASU has the largest solar installation of all US campuses and leads the world in solar technology and innovation.
As an administrator at ASU, a University with the world’s top solar engineers and policy experts, I intend to take advantage of Tempe’s unique strengths and, working with my fellow council members. make our city a worldwide leader in clean-energy technology.
As for the follow-up question, Sun Tech shuttered their Goodyear manufacturing facility last year, but yes, it surely would benefit the City to consider leveraging ASU’s established partnerships with solar companies. The benefits of sharing ASU’s best practices, as well as those of other cities, are clear.
Energy policy is one thing my career has really given me great insight in to. For example, when I was a legislative staffer in the Arizona House of Representatives, my position as natural resources and energy analyst led to my assignment to draft among the first solar incentives in Arizona’s tax code. They exist to this day in multiple amended forms but the intent is the same. How do we best take advantage of the sun in Arizona? I was even recognized by our emerging solar industry at the time for these efforts. Anyone remember our first Chairman of the Arizona Solar Energy Commission, Mr. James Warnock?
In Tempe, we have multiple strategies that I would continue to support to reduce costs and to provide long term citizen benefit in terms of both energy and tax savings. Partnerships with local utility providers, private ventures and ASU are all vital pieces of this success. We need to continue to pursue these partnerships.
We are also fortunate to have cutting edge research in this area at ASU. We are blessed with this natural resource, the creative talent in the middle of our city, and an enlightened city staff that is committed to renewable and sustainable action on in to the future.
Technology is changing fast as costs for renewables keep coming down, so continued emphasis on being more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly is a must for Tempe. We can and should continue to be an Arizona municipal leader in our uses, commitment and development in these areas.
How do we pay for this? Obviously, all energy use comes with a price. Our efforts must continue to look at longer term benefits, not just short term paybacks, to continue to fund such uses. Cost benefits for energy use do indeed create the trigger points for continued commitments within our city budget to continue our pursuit of current targets and to expand in to even more renewable and energy efficient opportunities with tremendous taxpayer and citizen benefits apparent.
I am proud to serve on the City Council’s Sustainability Working group which worked hard to create the City’s first ever renewable energy goal of 20 percent. In order to achieve this goal for renewable energy by 2025, we must convert non-renewable energy used on City property to solar. We are already implementing this goal and this spring, we brought a new solar system on line at one of our water treatment plants. We will soon start installing solar at our Police and Courts building and we have planned for at least two other facilities in the immediate future, including the Tempe Public Library. These substantial changes in our energy policy will have a positive effect on our environment in addition to saving Tempe taxpayers an estimated $2.3 million in energy costs. We have budgeted for our facilities to be retrofitted with solar moving forward, as we will realize our energy budget will be reduced.
For our solar initiative, we have partnered with Optony, supported by the US Department of Energy, which will provide us with resources to achieve our goals. ASU has a robust solar program and our staff works with ASU staff to continue to explore partnerships. Please visithttp://tempe.gov/city-hall/public-works/sustainable-tempe to see Tempe’s Sustainability Program at a glance and http://www.solarroadmap.com/ to learn about how the U.S. Department of Energy partners with communities.
I work to be as personally sustainable as possible. I walk, ride bikes and drive a car that gets almost 30 MPG. I started recycling programs at my company and at the property where I live. We’ve been gardening and raising chickens to become more sustainable as well. Self sufficiency and sustainability go hand in hand. As Councilman Papke I would be open to initiating and funding pilot programs to identity sources of energy that would be both economically viable and renewable. However governments should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.
Working with existing partners is ideal, as long as they are good partners. There is no sense in putting time an energy into a bad partnership.
True leaders lead by example. They set trends that make sense. Individuals who discern these trends are correct will follow suit. I lead by example, and would never attempt to foist my beliefs upon another. The voters of Tempe are plenty capable of making their own decisions.
Editors Note: Candidate Emesto Fonesca did not send a response prior to publication. Remember to vote for your favorite candidates in our straw poll.