More than 100 cities in the U.S. are leading the transition to 100% renewable energy. (Energy Manager Today Dec 2018).
Communities are committing to 100% clean energy or carbon-free energy to power their municipal buildings and fleets.
States mandating 100% renewable or carbon-free generation for all users include California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Mexico. And the list is growing!
Their commitments vary from 100% clean energy or renewables to 100% carbon-free energy which includes nuclear for all power sold in the state.
Interest is especially strong in communities and states located in the country’s solar and wind corridors.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the cities and states committing to a Path to 100% renewable energy transition:
- Abita Spring, Louisiana (population 2365 in 2010) Mayor Greg Lemons called the policy change to 100% renewables by 2030 a “practical decision” for the environment, the economy and for what constituents want in his small town. “Politics has nothing to do with it for me. Clean energy just makes good economic sense,” according to Lemons.
- Norman, Oklahoma (population 122,843 in 2017) is the first in that state to set renewable goals: 100% renewable for all city buildings by 2035 and across all city facilities and fleet by 2050. A citizen-run committee is looking at plans for new wind and solar power generation.
- Madison, Wisconsin (population 255,214 in 2017) Common Council member Alder Zach Wood says he and his fellow leaders support the transition to 100% renewable energy to create more local jobs, keep air and water cleaner and electricity more affordable and sustainable.
- Cincinnati, Ohio (population 301,301 in 2017) Late last year the city council passed a resolution setting a goal to power all of the city-owned and operated facilities with 100% clean, renewable energy by 2035. This comes on the heels of council endorsement of construction of a 25-megawatt solar array—the largest city-owned solar installation in the country.
- Kansas City, Missouri (population 488,943 in 2017) This spring, city council members unanimously approved the transition of all of its municipal electricity to carbon-free sources by the end of 2020! The city will locate 25 acres to develop a 5-megawatt community solar installation. City employees will have the option to subscribe to the farm. Also, all-electric or hybrid-electric vehicles will be purchased for city use.
- The State of California (5th largest economy in the world) Officials passed a measure in 2018 in response to climate change to accelerate its timeline to move to carbon-free power generation by 2045 for all retail electricity sold in the state. This includes renewables like solar and wind and nuclear power to generate electricity. (Sacramento Bee, Sept 2018)
- Massachusetts and Minnesota are each considering legislation that mandates the use of renewables or carbon-free energy
Fossil Fuel States:
It’s understandable that the transition to renewables is more difficult in areas where coal, oil, and gas production has been a mainstay of the economy.
Case in point: New Mexico. Elected state officials in the “Land of Enchantment” recognize the state has a $1.2 billion budget surplus due to revenue from oil and gas production in the prolific Permian Basin, making it the third largest oil producing state in the U.S. However, they also don’t want to see their oil, gas and coal producing state left out of the transition to renewables and want to cut greenhouse gas emissions in their state.
It’s important to note that more than half of the electricity currently used by New Mexico homes and businesses is generated from coal, which is on the decline due to rising production costs compared to other forms of generation and environmental concerns.
New Mexico also sits in the top 15 of states for wind power, and its solar energy resources are described as among the best in the country by State Representative Nathan Small.
Just this month, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the “Energy Transition Act.” It mandates “that the state’s publicly regulated utilities get all of their electricity from carbon-free sources” like solar and wind (and possibly nuclear) by 2045. (NPR, March 2019) The act sets interim goals, also: 50% carbon-free generation by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040.
All of the commitments to renewables can be traced to market forces, regulation, and concern about the environment. Communities and states are leading the way to secure sustainable, affordable and reliable power for the future.