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Traverse City Green Team 2017 Summary

by Katelyn Zeits
Friday, December 22, 2017

Traverse City Green Team 2017 Summary

Jim Carruthers, Mayor – 231-922-7768 (
Marty Colburn, City Manager – 231-922-4440 (
Sarna Salzman, SEEDS Executive Director – 231-929-3663 (                   

December 22, 2017  

In December 2016, the City Commission of Traverse City passed a resolution to meet 100% of the electricity demand for City operations - meaning the yearly total of all municipal electric meters - with clean, renewable energy sources by the year 2020. Renewable energy is defined as wind, solar, geothermal, and/or landfill gas. The City also set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by pursuing renewable energy and energy efficiency, or other sustainability projects, with the goal of initiating at least two such projects per year from now until 2027. With these actions, the City Commission formed an advisory Green Team. This is a team of 6-10 people who meet regularly to update the 2011 Climate Action Plan to meet the new goals. This team is charged with recommending sustainability projects, and developing a plan to become carbon neutral by mid-century.

Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers, a strong supporter and advocate of using clean energy for a better tomorrow, has been a key participant in the Traverse City Green Team as the city’s top elected official. Carruthers talks about the progress with pride, “Traverse City is a shining star for Michigan – we live in a special place where we need to do what is right to keep it that way.  Keeping Traverse City wonderful and moving it forward means that we need to be a leader in being conservationist-minded when it comes to energy use. I’m proud of our City Commission for putting our principles in action by committing, by 2020, to power all city operational facilities entirely from renewable energy sources. We’re leading by example and that’s important to me both personally, and as Mayor of Traverse City.” 

Since December 2016, the Green Team has accomplished the following:


  • Generating local, state and national media attention to bring awareness and encourage others to follow suit
  • Working dialog with Traverse City Light and Power
  • Presenting at public forums and college classes about the Green Team and the city’s progress



  • Established members of the advisory Green Team, with representatives from local government, the municipal utility, as well as the for-profit and nonprofit sectors
  • Identified low-performing buildings within the City operations


  • Further clarified the 100% Renewable Energy by 2020 Resolution Goal by developing a consistent methodology for measuring progresS
  • Identified all City electric, water and gas meters
  • Quantified and updated the benchmark of City energy use, electricity and natural gas


  • Achieved Michigan Green Communities Bronze certification from the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and was awarded a $3,000 mini grant
  • Earmarked grant funds for improving Marina lighting, and for public education
  • Researched and provided feedback to the City Commission on proposals for clean energy generation


  • Developed a municipal “green rate” and approvals for 1MW of privately owned, local, solar generation


  • Worked with the Michigan Municipal League to host a peer-to-peer learning session with the City of Ann Arbor’s Systems Planning Department 
  • Grand Traverse County upgraded to LED interior lighting in public buildings for efficiency


  • Traverse City Light and Power approved an exterior lighting timer for the Pickleball Court for increased efficiency
  • Began the process of identifying utility rebate eligible energy efficiency opportunities for City infrastructure
  • Engaged in professional development on Capital Improvement Planning with the Michigan Association of Planners
  • CH2M and the Wastewater Treatment Plant began recycling where possible, and identified equipment efficiency opportunities


  • Upgraded to LED Lighting at the Water Treatment Plant office and lab for increased efficiency
  • Developed a framework for updating the City’s Carbon Action Plan
  • Scheduled meetings for 2018 and formed sub-committees on key objective areas
  • Traverse City Light and Power was offered a RE Power Purchase Agreement by Spartan, a member of Wolverine Power Cooperative


  • City Commission approved the purchase of 2 Variable Frequency Drive mixing pumps for the Wastewater Treatment Plant for increased efficiency
  • Was awarded a $45,000 grant from Rotary Charities to support Clean Energy and Green Infrastructure
  • Hosted Spartan Renewables for a learning session