On Tuesday, the city of Knoxville elected its next Mayor, Indya Kincannon. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) believes that Kincannon is well suited to continue to reduce the city and community’s carbon footprint and lower energy costs for Knoxvillians while creating a more livable, healthy, and vibrant community that works for all residents.Kate Tracy and Maggie Shober | November 7, 2019
On Tuesday, the City of Knoxville elected its next mayor, Indya Kincannon. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) believes that Kincannon is well suited to continue to reduce the city and community’s carbon footprint and lower energy costs for Knoxvillians while creating a more livable, healthy, and vibrant community that works for all residents. Kincannon ran on – not away from – a bold platform of action on climate change and clean energy that helped her win the non-partisan mayoral race in Knoxville, Tennessee. The election of a climate and clean energy champion would not have happened without thousands of Knoxvillians raising their voices over the last year and propelling energy concerns like high electric bills and climate change to be a leading issue in this election. Kincannon’s commitment to address climate change through a Mayor’s Climate Council will be a critical step to help Knoxville become a climate leader in the Southeast.
Climate change is no longer an issue of the future; it is an issue of the present. It is vital that movements like this continue to grow in Knoxville and cities across the Southeast to show decision-makers that there is widespread public support for policies that effectively combat climate change.
Energy increasingly becoming a top issue for Knoxville voters
In late 2018, SACE launched the ‘Freeze The Fees’ campaign asking Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) to stop raising fixed fees that residential and small business customers face on their electric bills. High fixed fees disproportionately hurt low-income and minority households and discourage investments that reduce energy usage such as energy efficiency and rooftop solar. KUB heard directly from thousands of local residents who are concerned with the rising costs of energy and imminent threat of climate change impacts on our daily lives.
In July of this year, SACE hosted a Mayoral Energy Forum, attended and coordinated by hundreds of volunteers. It was the largest forum held during the primary campaign cycle. The packed room confirmed Knoxville’s desire to see real energy solutions and climate actions that save taxpayer money and tackle carbon pollution that harms public health.
What has Mayor-elect Kincannon Committed To?
Mayor-elect Kincannon will play a pivotal role in how the city addresses the climate crisis moving forward and how to achieve, and hopefully surpass Knoxville’s newly-passed carbon reduction goals. These actions will help Knoxville lead in building a more resilient infrastructure, create local jobs, and reduce climate-harming carbon pollution.
This can be achieved through a community-formulation of a bold, science-based Climate Action Plan. Kincannon has pledged to create a Mayor’s Climate Council to develop detailed energy solutions that save tax dollars and focus on energy solutions that will lower residential electric bills, invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and expand electric transportation. SACE looks forward to collaborating with the Kincannon administration on this Council.
Increase participation and meaningful public interaction with KUB, TVA
Kincannon ran on a platform that included reducing Knoxville’s carbon footprint. Knoxville is the hometown of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the nation’s largest public utility, and Kincannon indicated that as Knoxville’s mayor she would use her bully pulpit to push TVA toward more climate-friendly policies.
Making the city energy efficient
During the campaign, Kincannon said that as mayor she would work to “make city buildings as energy efficient as possible,” “foster redevelopment on land that is already served by infrastructure such as roads, sewers, utilities, and schools,” and “work to convert city vehicles to clean energy, including our city buses.”
KUB recently introduced an incentive to help customers install electric vehicle charging stations at their homes. Kincannon has expressed interest in becoming a leader in the adoption of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles emit significantly less greenhouse gas pollution than their gas-powered counterparts, even when accounting for fossil-fueled electricity. It is imperative that utilities incentivize customers to adopt cleaner transportation options that help Knoxville achieve its newly passed carbon reduction goals and promote cleaner, healthier communities. SACE recently participated in a National Drive Electric Week in Knoxville event to promote the benefits of driving electric.
What authority does the Mayor hold to push climate policies forward in Knoxville and beyond?
Knoxville can be a leader on climate change, and this election is an indicator that residents are looking for their next leader to do just that. We look forward to what the Kincannon administration brings to Knoxville on this vital issue.
The future looks cleaner in Knoxville. We hope to see even more clean energy voters at the poll in Knoxville’s next election and community voices participating in the conversation.