A big win for the local environmental movement in Pasadena, as the City Council voted unanimously to set a goal of 100% clean energy for the city's electric grid by 2030—a remarkable five years ahead of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's (LADWP) goal!
Pasadena's current energy mix leaves much to be desired, with almost 40% of electricity coming from coal and nearly 10% from natural gas. But with this vote, the city is well on its way to a cleaner and greener future.
The move also opens a path towards retiring the Glenarm gas plant in Pasadena, made famous by Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" music video. With this victory, not only will the city reduce its carbon footprint, but also grow the movement for other cities to transition away from gas plants and towards clean energy in Southern California.
We’re proud to have been a part of the grassroots effort led by the Pasadena 100 coalition (which includes our local SC Pasadena group) that made this victory possible. It's a testament to the power of community action and the importance of setting bold, achievable targets for a sustainable future.
Grassroots Organizing At Its Best
The campaign team, which included over 60 individuals, worked tirelessly over 9 months, tabling at local farmer's markets, going door to door to build their list, and mobilizing the community to take action. Their efforts paid off, as they gathered over 1,300 postcards filled in by Pasadena residents and received support from organizations such as the Pasadena Unified School District, Pasadena Community College Board, and even the NAACP.
“We thought the postcards were a creative way to call attention to our mission,” said George Vine, Pasadena Group Vice-Chair. “We wanted the City Council to see clearly that the community understood the connection between climate change and how our electricity is generated and to please pay attention.”
Young people can play a powerful role in advocating for environmental causes, as they are often passionate and motivated to make a difference. In the case of the Pasadena 100 campaign, an event on the steps of Pasadena City Hall brought together youth from the local community to hand the postcards to elected officials.
The postcards, expressing the importance of addressing climate change and the desire for Pasadena to transition to clean energy, served as a powerful visual representation of the community's commitment to the cause and attracted attention from the press and local media outlets, further amplifying their message.
The Sierra Club’s national Beyond Coal campaign joined the effort in the final weeks. At the request of the local coalition, we sent this letter to the Pasadena Mayor and City Council urging them to go 100% clean by 2030.
Finally, in January of 2023, a subcommittee of the city council discussed the energy plan. Over 40 activists spoke in favor of 100% clean energy. The council considered a resolution for ‘100% carbon neutral energy, which is seen as a less climate-friendly target than 100% clean – but due to the overwhelming show of support from the community, the council changed the text back to 100% clean. Following the subcommittee vote, the whole council heard the resolution the following week and passed it unanimously.
With the historic vote, the City's utility will undergo their power planning and has to figure out how they will bring on enough clean energy resources to be able to stop relying on coal and gas plants.
This victory serves as a reminder of the importance of community-led campaigns and the impact they can have. It's an inspiring example of what is possible when people come together to create positive change.