Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, recently became a co-chair for the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100 Percent Clean Energy Campaign.
To date, the city government has not released a target date or plan by which Columbia will ditch fossil fuels in favor of clean technologies.
In a recent interview with the smart cities blog CityLab, Benjamin outlined some of the steps that Columbia has already taken to incorporate more renewables in its local grid.
South Carolina’s solar power initiative has already been greeted with enthusiasm by Columbia residents. To date, the city’s businesses and residents have installed enough solar power capacity to generate 8.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, which Benjamin claims is the equivalent of nixing 13 million car miles.
Other incremental changes include a commitment to running Columbia’s city council meetings on 100 percent renewables, converting almost all of the city’s traffic lights to LEDs, and fueling 60 percent of all city buses with natural gas instead of diesel. Benjamin also credits local non-governmental organizations, including Sustainable Midlands, with raising awareness about renewables and their environmental and economic benefits.