Dane County government operations close to meeting 100 percent renewable energy goal | Politics and Elections

In expressing support for the Paris Climate Accord, Dane County officials also committed to having all county government operations generated by renewable energy sources by 2035 at the latest.

But the county might meet that goal way before then.

In 2016, Dane County paid utilities for using 35.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity while also producing 34.6 million kilowatt hours of renewable electricity from county landfills and solar energy projects, according to Dave Merritt, the county’s Department of Administration director of policy & program development.

With new projects funded in the 2017 budget becoming operational, such as the east district highway garage that features 800 solar panels, the county could meet its goal 18 years early. 

“It is reasonable that county government electricity use will be offset by 100 percent renewable production in the 2017-2018 time period,” Merritt said. 

If manure digesters were included, Dane County government would be producing 170 percent of the renewable electricity it uses. 

Manure digesters that the county helped develop in Middleton and Waunakee produce a combined 26 million kilowatt hours per year. However, that energy is owned by Gundersen Health System and Clean Fuel Partners, the companies that operate the digesters.

The County’s Sustainability Subcommittee of the Public Works and Transportation Committee will work to set a date for county government operations to rely solely on renewable energy. 

The Paris agreement, signed by 195 countries in 2015, establishes a commitment to take concrete measures to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. President Donald Trump announced June 1 the United States would withdraw from the agreement.

The resolution signed by Dane County Executive July 17 states…

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