Local group wants Manatee County to move to clean energy

Group hosts discussion on climate change

BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - The topics of climate change and clean, renewable energy are a hot topic on the Suncoast. In Manatee County, different organizations are working together to raise awareness.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of why it’s so important for our county in fact not only commit to 100% clean energy but also a climate position,” said Jim Willard, Chair of the Manatee Clean Energy Alliance.

They’re trying to work closely with Manatee County over concerns of climate change and sea level rise.

“Energy is green energy, it’s not using fossil fuels to create energy. We’ve seen the valuable ability solar and wind, practically solar here in Florida, solar is the Sunshine State,” he said.

Dozens of people packed the Bradenton Women’s Club to hear from experts and ask questions. One expert told the crowd that it’s expected that by the year 2100, Manatee County will be 3- to 8.5-feet underwater. They believe this will put infrastructure in the area, tourism, and businesses at risk.

“All these areas are subject to routine flooding because we increased drains, we increased sea level rise with storms that hit our coast so we’re talking about loss of property values, potentially loss of life if we have a serious storm here,” said Willard.

Neighboring groups have been working for years to do the same in Sarasota County. “Sarasota Ready for 100” campaign changed how the City of Sarasota now uses energy.

“We got the City Commission of Sarasota to commit of a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2030 by the city and 2045 for the entire community. There are members of our team that also live in Manatee County and decided they also wanted to start a campaign here in Manatee,” said Lynn Nilseen, co-organizer of Sarasota Ready for 100.

So far in Manatee County, according to county officials, there’s an energy and sustainability division and have implemented policies to decrease the use of fossil fuels. Community members hope more is done for the future.

“I appreciate that the commissioners came out, some members of the school board came out. The time is right for this,” said Susan Darovec, co-leader of Citizens Climate Lobby for District 16.

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