On July 28th, Climate Cabinet hosted a webinar on Municipal Utility Leadership through the Clean Energy Transition. This event featured Debra Smith (CEO and GM of Seattle City Light), Jeremy Matlow (Commissioner of Tallahassee Utilities), and Eric Williams (Director of Omaha Public Power District). Each of these three speakers represents a unique experience of municipal utility leadership in the clean energy transition across the nation.
For Debra Smith in Seattle, her state’s abundant hydroelectric generation and a favorable legislative environment have allowed Seattle City Light to make aggressive clean energy pledges. Debra credits Washington’s resource wealth and political will to create a decarbonized energy system for achievements such as becoming the first carbon-neutral utility in the country and reducing the energy burden on disadvantaged communities.
In Nebraska, a public power state, each of the largest three utilities approved a decarbonization goal, are phasing out coal, and are planning utility-scale solar projects. As Eric Williams says, his job is to be “the director of operations, a regulator for each customer class, and an advocate for customers.”
In Tallahassee, the fossil gas-dominated region is shifting towards a decarbonized energy future, even in a political climate where climate action isn’t always seen as an urgent need and public utilities are under attack from investor-owned ones. However, the local community strongly values municipal utilities and aggressively pushes for more integration of renewable energy. In fact, municipal utilities, where people get a say in their energy mix, are an integral part of a democratic, clean energy future.
Learn more about how municipal utilities can drive and are driving the clean energy future by reading the Climate Cabinet Education’s guide for utility directors.