Shortly before Darren Springer interviewed for a job at the Burlington Electric Department (BED) in 2016, the city proudly proclaimed that it would become a ‘net zero energy city’ by 2030. That meant no more gas or oil to heat residents’ homes and swapping out gas-powered cars for electric vehicles and more public transportation. To learn more, read “The Places Paving The Way to 100 Percent Renewable Energy.”
- As of September 2020, 452 cities and 22 regions had made commitments to slash and offset their planet-heating carbon dioxide emissions, reaching net-zero CO2 pollution by the middle of the century.
- Burlington, Vermont has been running on renewable electricity since 2014. Over 70% of their electricity comes from burning wood and hydropower, both of which generate a constant flow of energy, which is more compatible with the existing grid.
- Burlington’s focus on offering incentives, engaging its citizens, and assuming control of the utility have all enabled its transition to running on renewable energy.
- Beyond Burlington, the nonprofit, indigenous-led Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation is developing what it calls a “net-zero energy” community for members of the Oglala Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
- The goal is for the 34-acre development’s power to come completely from renewable energy.
Path to 100% Perspective:
There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach on the path to 100% renewable energy. Places like Burlington are setting an example by investing in a mix of renewable energy sources and making strides in their decarbonization goals. The U.S. could achieve a zero-emission electricity system by 2035 by investing $1.7 trillion into wind and solar, plus energy storage and flexible generation to balance system intermittence and volatility. Accelerating decarbonization is complex, but it is possible and affordable.
Photo by Gautam Krishnan on Unsplash