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Evaluate Potential Goals

Establishing a concrete goal is a critical early step in the process of buying renewable energy, as doing so changes the conversation with internal and external stakeholders from being about, “Why should we buy renewable energy?” to, “What is the best way for us to buy renewable energy?”

Different types of goals have very different implications for the city, so you will want to start by evaluating the range of possible options. Some important questions to consider are:

  • Is the goal focused on the whole community, or is it limited to municipal operations?
  • Should the goal focus on greenhouse gas emissions or renewable energy?
  • Should the goal be for 100% of energy usage, or should you start with a smaller target or pilot project?
  • What are your state’s goals, and how should they influence your city’s level of ambition?
  • What are your utility’s plans, and how should they influence your city’s targets?

For more information on the key questions to consider, see the training video in “Module 1: Goal Setting and Clarification” in NREL’s “Solar Decision Support and Resources for Local Governments,” and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Local Government Project Portal Goal-Setting Guidance, which contains a four-page worksheet for setting goals. In addition, you may also want to research what commitments other communities in your region have made; the Sierra Club, CDP, and NAZCA all maintain databases of city renewable energy commitments.

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