Energy and transportation networks power and link our world. It is estimated by the International Energy Agency that roughly 80% of the global population has access to electricity with that percentage increasing every year as nations expand and develop their energy infrastructure. But getting and keeping the lights on is not only a worry for developing nations. How we create and sustain the power grid is of importance to all. While Satellite Beach does not create electricity directly, it can have an effect on consumption, which relates to oil, gas, and other fossil fuel resource usage. The same goes for expanding and maintaining transportation system and how that effects our resource consumptions.
Much of America’s energy and transportation infrastructure is in need of repair or complete replacement. According to the U.S. Department of Energy and the North American Electric Reliability Corps, the United States endures more blackouts than any other developed nation due to aging infrastructure, weather-related incidents, and a lack of investment in new and cleaner forms of power. These outages are costing the American public up to $150 billion dollars each year. As for the transportation sector, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that up to 14,000 highways deaths every year are caused by poor road conditions and outdated designs.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), renewable energy (hydroelectric, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass) powered 16.9% of the United States energy grid through the first half of 2016 with 9.2% coming from non-hydroelectric renewable sources. To put that into perspective renewable energy, through all of 2015, powered 13.7% of the United States grid with 7.6% of that coming from non-hydroelectric sources. With this increase, renewable energy is on the rise. This section outlines possible renewable energy integration strategies to make the City’s grid and transportation sector cleaner and more resilient against environmental stressors and adaptable to population growth. These two sectors contribute the most to the City’s greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change and a general lowering of air quality that can be harmful to humans, especially to small children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
Energy and Transportation include the following:
1. Promoting the use of alternative energy use in municipal, business, and residential buildings for new construction and retrofit
2. Creating "complete streets"
3. Promoting alternative vehicle usage and safety
4. Encourage densities and intensities of land use that will foster transit, or enable people to walk, bike, or use golf carts/electric vehicles to nearby shopping and restaurants
5. Identifying ways to operate, manage, and replace municipal fleets for public works, building, code compliance, administration, and non-safety related departments
6. How do we promote and encourage mixing of land uses to reduce drive times, create job opportunities near homes, and reduce vacancies creating a sustainable economic structure
Energy and Transportation Stressors:
Energy and transportation systems, when brought down to a local scale, have many common stressors. According to the National Hurricane Center, Brevard County has been struck seventeen times by landfalling hurricanes over the course of 110 years, which places the county with the sixth highest number of landfalls within that time span (National Hurricane Center, 2017). October 2016’s Hurricane Matthew near-miss only highlighted the issue of powerful hurricanes and the damage they can potentially do, especially to coastal communities. Risks from these storms to energy infrastructure include: above ground power lines being damaged or destroyed, fire from arcing power lines, traditionally fueled backup generator failure and associated blackouts that can last for days or weeks. Threats posed by these storms to transportation infrastructure include flooding, roads being blocked by debris, cracking, erosion, overwash, and loss of traditional fuel to city resident’s vehicles and the municipal fleet, should power or supplies be cut off.
As with other sustainability action plan categories, sea level rise will also have an effect on energy and transportation systems. An increase in the water table could prevent future power and gas lines from being buried and can worsen the effects of tropical cyclone storm surges. If the frequency and intensity of future storms increases due to warming ocean temperatures and increasing atmospheric water vapor, the City of Satellite Beach could be facing extremely damaging infrastructure stressors in the future that include higher storm surges, larger rainfall events, and more powerful windstorms.
The increasing population of Satellite Beach is considered another stressor on the City’s energy and transportation systems due to increased grid usage and traffic congestion, specifically on the island’s two main thoroughfares, A1A, and South Patrick Drive. Increased congestion could lead to reduced air quality and increased noise pollution. Traditional energy and transportation systems need to be modernized and made exceptionally resilient to become self-sufficient and cleaner while also reducing utility cost and vulnerability to environmental degradations.
A sound economy can only thrive when people are there to purchase goods and services. Better design of buildings and proximity can reduce greenhouse emissions and create complete streets with walkable and bikeable community access. Changing codes to incentivize renewable energy, modify land use policies to foster mixed uses and convert some long-vacant commercial lands to residential areas will foster a sustainable community future.
What is Satellite Beach doing?
Since the adoption of the City's Sustainability Action Plan, numerous projects, policies, and initiatives have been researched, are under development, or have been completed in order to help the City's energy and transportation systems. What follows is a list of initiatives and projects currently being undertaken by the City in order to optimize and build resiliency throughout its energy and transportation systems. If a bullet point contains a star (*) next to it this means the initiative or project is directly related to fulfilling a Green Achievement Target. Check out the other links below as well to find out more and see what other sustainability-based endeavors there are for you to explore!