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Photos of the solar panel array at Cedar Creek Water Reclamation Facility on Tuesday, March 3, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. The ribbon cutting for the array took place on Thursday, February 28, 2019, approximately three years from the project's conception. The array is projected to produce 1, 038,000 kilowatt hours per year. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

The Athens-Clarke County Commission voted to adopt a 100% clean energy plan on May 21, making Athens the fourth city in Georgia to commit to clean energy.

ACC currently uses about 15.2% clean and renewable energy, according to the resolution. The new plan addresses the above average electricity prices that ACC households spend per month, as well as the issue of minorities, people in poverty and the elderly spending higher portions of their incomes on energy.

The move was applauded by progressive and environmental groups, including Athens for Everyone, Environmental Georgia, and the Sierra Club. On Feb 4, Mayor Kelly Girtz joined about 100 mayors who signed the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy Initiative pledge.

“This new approach to energy in our community means we can combat climate change and work to redress historical inequities in our community that have often been faced by people of color,” said Athens for Everyone Board Member Nnenne Onyioha-Clayton in a Environment Georgia news release.

By 2035, ACC will have to meet 100% of its energy needs from clean and renewable energy sources made for or on Unified Government properties, according to the plan.

By 2050, transportation and all other energy needs will be met by 100% clean and renewable energy sources. That same year, ACC plans to generate 60% of its renewable energy locally. All commissioners voted in favor of the legislation.

“A resolution is one thing but implementation is a whole other thing,” District 3 Commissioner Melissa Link said at the meeting. “I look forward to coming up with creative and effective ways to actually include renewable energy in these projects and also in retrofitting our existing buildings.”

The decision to adopt a 100% clean energy plan comes after Atlanta decided to pass a similar plan in March. The two cities join Augusta and Clarkston in efforts to reduce harmful impacts on the environment.

According to WalletHub, a personal finance website, Georgia ranks third in the nation in total energy cost.

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