Cities account for more than 70% of global carbon emissions. But this challenge presents an opportunity: cities can be at the center of combatting climate change by leading the charge to renewable energy. The path to clean energy can be difficult for cities due to little technical expertise, few resources and some regulatory barriers, making it difficult for cities to seize this opportunity and receive all its benefits.

The American Cities Climate Challenge, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is a program with powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support to help cities meet — or beat — their near-term carbon reduction goals. The Renewables Accelerator, an initiative of the Challenge, supports U.S. cities as they seek to procure renewable energy to meet these goals.

Jointly led by WRI and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and facilitated by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), the Renewables Accelerator offers technical support to the 25 selected Climate Challenge cities and to over 100 USDN members interested in powering their cities with low-carbon renewable energy.

The Renewables Accelerator facilitates peer exchange among cities and shares lessons learned from other large renewable energy buyers while leveraging WRI and RMI’s expertise. The Renewables Accelerator helps cities understand procurement options, deployment strategies and best practices. We also help cities navigate regulatory, policy and institutional barriers by facilitating engagement with utilities, public utility commissions and state legislatures.

The Renewables Accelerator offers cities:

  • In-person trainings. In collaboration with USDN, we host a series of intensive, in-person trainings with an emphasis on facilitated peer learning, ranging from “Renewable Energy Procurement 101” to deep-dive boot camps focused on specific procurement methods. These are led by practitioners with real-world energy procurement experience, including faculty from cities.
  • Ongoing peer exchange. We facilitate regular interactions, including monthly calls and webinars, among cities with similar needs and interests to continue the peer-learning process.
  • Technical resources and tools. Cities have access to a library of resources to help guide their procurement decisions and actions, including “how-to” guides focused on specific procurement methods, primers that synthesize best practices and templates that can be adapted and used in transaction documents.
  • Individual support. The Renewables Accelerator offers tailored assistance to the cities selected by the Challenge, including developing renewable strategies, supporting dialogue within city governments and reviewing transaction documents. Light-touch support, such as responding to specific questions and incorporating requested content into the trainings and resources, is also available to USDN members.


Photo by Michael Righi / Flickr