The citizens of Oberlin, Ohio have a long history of leading the nation. The city even helped start the civil war.

PhotoMCMILLAN: We had a slave that was captured here and taken to a neighboring town to be held, and a group of citizens from Oberlin went down and broke him free.

That’s Doug McMillan of Oberlin Light and Power. Now, more than a hundred and fifty years later, the City has set out to fight climate change.

To reduce its carbon pollution by fifty percent, the city council refused to buy electricity from a new coal-fired power plant and instructed the city-owned utility to find renewable sources of electricity instead. In a happy coincidence, the company — Waste Management — was looking to capture and sell methane from local landfills.

MCMILLAN: “Waste Management had two projects just sitting there on two landfills and everything was ready.”

So the Oberlin utility decided to use electricity generated from the landfill. Now, the methane captured from those two projects provides 55 percent of Oberlin’s base energy needs — surpassing the city’s goal of 50 percent renewable power. And when Oberlin purchases additional solar, wind, hydro and nuclear energy in 2016, 89 percent of the city’s power supply will be free of carbon pollution.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Landfill gas to energy generators at the Lorain County Landfill (source: City of Oberlin).

More Resources
City of Oberlin Climate Action Plan
FACT SHEET: 16 U.S. Communities Recognized as Climate Action Champions for Leadership on Climate Change

Topics: Energy