At the direction of Mayor Martha Burke, the Hailey City Council passed a resolution Monday night to put the city on the path to achieving 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.
The resolution—which Blaine County passed on Oct. 27—was initially developed by the Hailey Climate Action Coalition, Idaho Sierra Club and Conservation Voters of Idaho after more than 200 local residents signed a petition asking for a 100 percent clean energy commitment from county and city leaders.
“Like the pandemic crisis, the climate crisis also requires large-scale solutions,” Climate Action Coalition leader Elizabeth Jeffrey said Monday.
The resolution sets two sub-goals for the city: First, ensuring municipal facilities are powered by clean, renewable energy sources by 2030; and second, upgrading Hailey’s municipal fleet and equipment to be completely electric by 2030.
The resolution also sets a deadline of 2035 for a communitywide transition to clean electricity—a more aggressive timeline than Idaho Power’s goal of 2045. Megan Ronk, business development director at Idaho Power, said the utility company would help the city achieve that timeline.
“We absolutely acknowledge that the cost for renewable and clean solutions have continued to fall,” she told the council. “There are a lot of strategies that [Hailey] can employ into the future, and we will work with you in achieving your objectives.”
Per the resolution, the city will form a stakeholder group by early 2021 to create a step-by-step action plan with concrete milestones.
“The devil is in the details,” said Council President Kaz Thea. “This [action plan] will obviously be more specific than this more general resolution.”
Thea joined other council members and meeting attendees Monday in voicing ardent support for the resolution.
“We have to commit to bold action and bold policies, and I don’t think we will get there with incremental changes,” she said. “We need to follow science, and science says we need to reduce our emissions by 7 percent each year.”
Hailey resident Gaston Zuain agreed.
“I’ve been passionate about climate change since I was a kid,” he said. “In Argentina, we’re already seeing the effects of it there, and in Hailey we’ve seen increasing drought cycles, smoke. It’s time to take more aggressive actions.”
Councilmen Sam Linnet and Juan Martinez noted that they ran their campaigns on creating a clean-energy future, and would follow through on those promises.
“I don’t want ‘perfect’ to get in the way,” Linnet said. “Right now this is a great first step, and this is not the end of the discussion.”
Eric Willadsen, conservation program manager of the Idaho chapter of the Sierra Club, told the council that mitigating the effects of climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
“The city of Hailey recognizes that eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels is a smart economic strategy,” he said. “Clean energy provides a more stable, resilient future that will ensure lasting social, economic and environmental prosperity, including good paying jobs for Idaho families.”