San Diego Airport Turns to Renewables

San Diego airport goes renewable

The San Diego International Airport will soon be powered without fossil fuels, thanks to a partnership with San Diego Community Power, a nonprofit community choice energy program. The airport is the third-busiest in California, and its President and CEO called the program's ability to provide zero-carbon energy at competitive costs a "gamechanger.” This puts the airport nearly 15 years ahead of its initial target of making the 100% renewables switch by 2035. San Diego Community Power launched its municipal services in early 2021 and will add commercial and residential customers, including the airport, over the next year.

Why This Matters

Stepping away from fossil fuel power is a step in the right direction. Sure, going zero-emissions in the airport doesn’t erase emissions from the planes flying in and out (although United *is* buying 100 electric planes that will take to the sky in 2026). But, the building does have a footprint of its own, and this move signals that the airport's business leaders are confident in the reliability of renewables. Their decision to go 100% renewable could spur other businesses in the San Diego area to take advantage of the community power program. Overall, California has 23 community power programs serving more than 10 million people, including individuals, businesses, and municipalities.

Climate Action Plan Coming for San Diego

San Diego is the second-largest city in California, home to around 1.5 million people, and its climate plans extend beyond the airport. This week, the city also announced that its updated six-year climate action plan (expected later this year) will "shift from a set of ambitious goals to a more comprehensive and detailed blueprint," according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Specifically, the city's new plan takes on climate change by:

The city is also rolling out a climate equity fund, which will spend $5 million per year specifically in census tracts that score below the city's (first-ever) climate equity index taken in 2019. The funds will go toward projects like tree planting and improving public transit.

San Diego's more actionable approach to the climate crisis correlates with a change in city leadership, with Democrats taking the mayor’s office and a bigger majority on the city council last year.