Gov. Steve Sisolak

Nevada became the 4th state to commit to 100% carbon-free energy

by James DeHaven, Reno Gazette Journal

Conservationists and clean energy advocates celebrated Monday as Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill to more than double the amount of renewable energy currently provided by Nevada’s electric companies.

Senate Bill 358 was fast-tracked through the Democrat-dominated Legislature on Friday as an “emergency measure,” allowing Sisolak to sign it on Earth Day.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, requires state electric producers to buy or generate 50 percent of their power from solar, wind and other renewable power sources by 2030. It goes on to set a goal of zero carbon emissions from energy producers by 2050.

Only about 20 percent of electricity now generated in Nevada comes from renewables. A legislative effort aimed at bumping that total to 40 percent was vetoed last year by Gov. Brian Sandoval, inspiring a popular, billionaire-backed ballot measure that aimed to boost the state’s reliance on clean energy.

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Tallahassee commissioners set 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2050

by Gina Jordan, WJCT

The Tallahassee city commission wants the city to be on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The goals are outlined in a resolution adopted by commissioners during their Wednesday meeting.

The plan sets milestones. For example, city-owned facilities would be on 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2035 and city-owned light duty vehicles and Star Metro main line buses would be completely electric by 2035.

Once the 2050 goal is met, the city should produce as much clean, renewable energy as the community consumes. The city says any unavoidable use of non-renewable energy will be balanced by the export of renewable energy to other communities.

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Texas grid operator reports fuel mix is now 30% carbon-free

by Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

Texas may be the center of the U.S. oil and gas industry, but the latest data shows that the state’s competitive energy market is increasingly favoring clean energy over fossil fuel alternatives.

New information from state grid operator ERCOT shows that carbon-free resources made up more than 30 percent of its 2018 energy consumption, and a slightly larger percentage of its 2019 generation capacity. In both cases, the largest share of credit goes to the state’s massive wind farms, which provided 18.6 percent of 2018 energy and make up 23.4 percent of 2019 capacity, followed by nuclear power, which served 10.9 percent of last year’s needs and will provide 5.4 percent of this year’s capacity.

Solar, meanwhile, only made up a sliver of the 1.3 percent of last year’s energy use served by “other” resources such as hydropower, biomass and fuel oil. But solar will make up 2.1 percent of this year’s generation capacity, in a testament to the small but fast-growing utility-scale solar market developing in the state.

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A clean energy revolution is rising in the midwest, with utilities in the vanguard

by Dan Gearino, InsideClimate News

Even with all the evidence that renewable energy has become less expensive than fossil fuels, it doesn’t seem real until utilities start to stake their futures on it.

For some Midwestern utilities, 2018 is the year that happened.

Xcel Energy of Minnesota in early December said it would go to zero carbon emissionsthroughout its eight-state territory by 2050, the first major utility to do so.

That followed some big steps by Consumers Energy in Michigan and NIPSCO in Indiana, which issued plans to shut down coal-fired power plants sooner than previously planned while also accelerating development of wind and solar power.

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Energy priorities shift as a new administration takes hold

by Tux Turkel, Press Herald

Efforts to expand natural gas capacity. Hopes of luring discounted Canadian electricity. Measures to stunt the growth of solar power and discourage wind farms on land and sea.

These actions championed for eight years by Gov. Paul LePage and Republican allies will end on Jan. 2, as a new Democratic governor and Legislature abruptly shift the focus of Maine’s energy policy to boosting local, green-power development and blunting the impacts of a warming climate.

“From warming seas and rising ocean waters to an increase in the tick population, climate change is hammering our state and will have a significant impact on our economy,” said Gov.-elect Janet Mills, responding via email to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. “As governor, I will prioritize fighting climate change by embracing and advancing a clean-energy future, including, for example, supporting UMaine’s offshore wind research and by providing incentives for community solar and rooftop solar.”

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Sonoma Clean Power partners with Uber to bring electric vehicle incentives to their drivers

by Kate Kelly, Sonoma Clean Power

Uber is most well-known for its on-demand rideshare app that connects riders with available drivers. The app has since expanded to offer multiple modes of transportation within one app. Uber recently announced its EV Champions Initiative, a pilot program to deliver at least 5 million EV rides over the next year.

“At SCP, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to achieve our Mission of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Because Uber is already changing the culture of transportation by promoting alternative ways to travel, we thought a partnership to encourage drivers to switch to clean, electric vehicles made a lot of sense,” said Cordel Stillman, SCP’s Director of Programs.

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50 ways 100% Clean Energy won in 2017

By Jodie Van Horn, Ecowatch

We’d never argue that 2017 was a great year, but some really great things did happen!

Here are 50 ways (yes, 50!) that clean energy kept winning in 2017 despite Trump’s attempts to roll back the country’s progress.

  1. The Republican Mayor Championing 100% Renewable Energy in Louisiana

Republican Mayor Greg Lemons made his small town of Abita Springs the first municipality in Louisiana to commit to 100% clean energy. Mayor Lemons said his 100% renewable energy vision for Abita Springs, which has a population of 2,900, aligns with the conservative values of his community—and it has made him a trailblazer across Louisiana.

  1. Madison and Abita Springs Committed to 100% Clean Energy on the Same Day!

On March 21, Madison, Wisconsin and Abita Springs, Louisiana became the 24th and 25th cities in the country to commit to 100% clean energy. Last year, more than 70% of voters in Madison cast ballots supporting Hillary Clinton, while in St. Tammany Parish, where Abita Springs is located, more than 70% of voters supported Donald Trump. They agree on one thing, at least—the need for 100% clean energy.

  1. Solar Created Even More Jobs Across America

new report released this year by The Solar Foundation showed that in 2016, the number of solar jobsincreased in 44 of the 50 states, and more than 260,000 Americans now work in solar. In several major metro areas, the solar workforce grew by 50% or more. The New York Times ran a major piece in April, which pretty much sums it up: Today’s Energy Jobs Are in Solar, Not Coal.

  1. Chicago Committed to Power All Municipal Buildings with 100% Renewable Energy by 2025

In April, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that by 2025, all 900-plus buildings operated by the city, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Chicago Housing Authority and City Colleges will be powered entirely by renewable sources. In 2016, those buildings used nearly 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity—equal to the energy needed to power about 295,000 homes.

  1. U.S. Mayors Announced New National Drive for 100% Clean Energy

Mayors from across the U.S. teamed up with the Ready for 100 campaign to announce Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, a new effort to engage and recruit mayors to endorse a goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy in cities across the country.

  1. 100% Clean Energy at the People’s Climate March

A contingent of 100% clean energy activists representing communities from coast to coast joined hundreds of thousands of people marching in the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC on April 29.

  1. Atlanta Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy

Atlanta became the largest city in the South to commit to running entirely on clean energy. The city then took it to the people to learn through a series of #CommunityConversations why Atlanta is #ReadyFor100. Atlantans are helping shape the plan, set to be released next year—and they’ve even got some superhero support.

  1. More Companies Bought Into 100% Clean Energy

Around the world, a record number of big corporations, ranging from Anheuser-Busch to Kellogg, committed to going all-in on 100% clean energy. Collectively, their energy footprint is greater than all energy consumed in the state of New York. Corporate demand for renewable energy is helping drive a shift away from fossil fuels and bringing more renewable energy online. Google declared it now buys enough wind to cover 100% of its energy use.

  1. Even Puppies Love 100% Clean Energy

And what’s more uplifting than puppies?

  1. Entire Town of Hanover Voted Unanimously for 100%

At a town meeting on May 9, residents of Hanover, New Hampshire voted to get off of all fossil fuels by 2050. This is the first community in the country to adopt a goal of 100% clean, renewable energy voted on and approved by the residents of the community.

  1. Clean Energy Spiked In California and Texas

In California and Texas this year, clean energy like wind and solar set new records for energy generation. On May 13, renewable energy supplied 67% of all power in California. And wind broke records across the country, especially in Texas where 54% of grid electricity came from wind at one point on Oct. 27, breaking a previous 50% record set on March 23.

  1. A Movement of Mayors Across Florida

Florida mayors are leading the way towards 100% clean, renewable energy. More than 40 mayors from across Florida have joined Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, the most of any state in the country. Although the Sunshine State gets less than half a percent of its power from the sun, Floridians beat back previous utility-backed effortsto limit solar energy in the state. Now clean energy advocates and dozens of mayors say they deserve better.

  1. Pueblo, Colorado Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy

The city of Pueblo, Colorado committed to running entirely on renewable energy by 2035. City council is now exploring options for how they can cut ties with an uncooperative utility, protect low income rate payers, and move to 100% clean energy for all.

  1. A Mother’s Clean Energy Vision for Her City

On Mother’s Day, Mayor Heidi Harmon of San Luis Obispo, California, who is also a proud mom of two, shared her vision for 100% clean energy in her community. Citing the safety and health threats that climate change and pollution will pose to children, Mayor Harmon sees a solution: transitioning San Luis Obispo to run on 100% clean energy.

  1. Oregonians Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy

On the same day that Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, the Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commission voted to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Thanks to organizations like Verde and Opal, these commitments also represent a strong commitment to racial and economic justice and will ensure that communities of color and low income communities define, lead, and share the economic, social, and environmental benefits of a renewable energy transition.

  1. Energy Experts Agreed: 100% Renewable Energy is Possible

In a global survey, more than 70% of the world’s energy experts agreed that powering the globe with 100% renewable resources is achievable.

  1. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to Trump: the Steel City Will Move to 100% Clean Energy

Just hours after Donald Trump claimed to represent the voters of Pittsburgh in his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, Mayor Bill Peduto announced his support for a goal of powering Pittsburgh entirely with clean and renewable energy by 2035.

  1. Edmonds and Whatcom County Were the First Washington Commitments to 100% Clean Energy

In June, the city of Edmonds became the first community in the state of Washington to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy. Edmonds set the goal of achieving a 100% transition by 2025 shortly after the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting in June. Whatcom County became the sixth county in the country to move towards 100% renewable energy.

  1. Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina Is a Clean Energy Champ

Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin, Co-Chair of Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, is #ReadyFor100. Mayor Benjamin’s leadership paved the way for Columbia to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy in June. As a local and national leader, Mayor Benjamin is sharing his vision far and wide.

  1. Wind is Winning Across America

Wind power reached new heights in 2017! Earlier this year, American Electric Power announced that it would make a $4.5 billion investment in the nation’s largest wind energy project, and local advocates like Nancy Moran spoke out in support. The wind farm will provide power in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, and is expected to save customers $7 billion over the next 25 years. In Texas, wind power became a bigger source of electricity than coal.

  1. U.S. Conference of Mayors Approved Historic 100% Clean Energy Resolution, Proving That Mayors Are #ReadyFor100

The 85th U.S. Conference of Mayors approved a resolution establishing support from the nation’s biggest cities for an equitable and just transition to 100% clean energy by 2035. Clean energy activists celebrated the mayors’ vote by taking part in an aerial art action on the beach. Is your mayor signed onto Mayors for 100% Clean Energy?

  1. One of the Country’s Biggest Bus Fleets Will Be 100% Electric by 2030

This summer, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), voted to transition its fleetof more than 2,200 buses to zero emission electric buses by 2030. Transitioning to all electric buses will help improve air quality, fight climate change, enhance social equity and improve rider experience. Additionally, with policies that encourage local manufacturing, the transition can create good local jobs in disadvantaged communities. Congratulations to the Sierra Club’s My Generation campaign and local partners in Los Angeles who worked hard to achieve this major victory.

  1. Orlando’s 100% Clean Energy Commitment is Already Having an Impact

In August Orlando became the largest city in Florida to commit to 100% renewable energy. The city plans to stop using fossil fuels by 2050. Orlando’s commitment to clean energy is already having an impact: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer indicated that the city’s 100% renewable energy goal is a key factor in determining who will become the next CEO of their city-owned utility.

  1. The Path to 100% Clean Energy Is Saving Hawai’i Money

The Hawai’i House of Representatives found this year that Hawai’i residents have already saved over a quarter of a billion dollars as a result of the state’s progress toward achieving its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045. The state called on other states and the federal government to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, citing that it makes economic sense today. Hawai’i has a detailed plan to hit its goal five years ahead of schedule.

  1. Faith Leaders Asked Boise’s Mayor to Endorse a 100% Clean Energy Future

Boise Faith Leaders representing 20 different faith communities delivered a letter to Mayor Dave Bieter to urge him to support a goal to make Boise the first city in Idaho to commit to 100% clean energy. The Idaho chapter of the Sierra Club has been building grassroots support and asking Mayor Dave Bieter to commit to a 100% clean energy goal.

  1. In the Coal-Dependent State of Utah, 100% Is Trending

In a state that still gets nearly 70% of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, municipalities have begun to say “no more.” This year, Summit County and Moab, Utah committed to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy. Salt Lake City, which is also in the 100% club, released Climate Positive 2040, a plan to achieve its goal to run on clean energy by 2032, reduce carbon pollution, and take the lead on climate action.

  1. 100% Clean Energy Unleashed in Capitals

U.S. lawmakers introduced bills in both the Senate and House of Representatives this year that would move the entire country to 100% renewable energy. Senators Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders announced their landmark “100×50” act with community leaders in April. And clean energy supporters from California to Massachusettshave been pushing state lawmakers adopt 100% renewable energy, but many of these efforts are still in progress.

  1. 150 Mayors for 100% Clean Energy

The Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy initiative reached a major milestone: 150 mayors from across the country signed onto the campaign and pledged to power their communities with 100% clean, renewable energy. Civic leaders from across the country are stepping up to make it known that they care about the health of their residents and the strength of their local economy by advocating for 100% clean, renewable energy.

  1. Local Clean Energy Advocates Rallied for Community Choice

In support of a clean energy future for California, community members rallied in September to protect Community Choice energy programs, like Alameda County’s East Bay Community Energy. Community Choice gives cities and counties the chance to take control of their electric power supply and offer renewable energy to residents and businesses.

  1. North Carolina Counties Went All-In On Renewable Energy

While cities across the country continue to commit to 100% clean energy, some North Carolina communities are going even bigger. Orange County and Buncombe County, North Carolina this year became some of the first counties in the country to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy.

  1. Pueblo’s Movement for Energy Justice Featured in Sierra Magazine Profile

In a profile published in Sierra, Michael Tannahill’s story reveals the connections between economic and environmental justice—and highlights why the community of Pueblo, Colorado is pushing back hard against high utility costs and dirty fuels to get to 100% clean energy.

  1. Portland’s Commitment to 100% Clean Energy Pushed Portland General Electric (PGE) to Invest in Renewables

PGE acknowledged that Portland and surrounding Multnomah County’s 100% renewable energy goals are shaping its future energy investments. After the Oregon Public Utility Commission rejected PGE’s proposal to expand a gas-fired power station in August, PGE issued a proposal to develop renewable energy and energy storage.

  1. St. Louis Became the Largest Midwest City to Commit to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy

On Oct. 27, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the city’s commitment to transition to 100% by 2035. St. Louis, a longtime coal capital home to Arch Coal and Peabody Energy, represents the largest city in Missouri and across the Midwest to establish a goal of transitioning entirely to clean, renewable energy. The city will develop a plan by December 2018 to meet the goal and conduct a transparent and inclusive stakeholder process. This includes community members and representatives from organizations representing labor, faith, social justice, environmental justice, frontline communities and those most impacted by our current energy systems, among others.

  1. In Cleveland, the Community Wants Clean Energy for Everyone

Through a series of Community Dialogues in Cleveland, Ohio, Ready for 100 organizer Jocelyn Travis has been helping residents of “the Rock and Roll Capital of the World” envision a 100% clean energy transition in their city. The Dialogues have helped Cleveland’s diverse communities connect with each other, learn about clean energy solutions, and build a movement for a healthy and just clean energy transition.

  1. Community Choice Can Help San Diego Reach Its 100% Clean Energy Goal

A City of San Diego study released this year determined that Community Choice Energy can help San Diego achieve its goal of 100% clean energy at a cost competitive rate with the local utility. San Diego is the largest city in the country to have adopted a legally binding 100% renewable energy goal, which the city plans to achieve by 2035. San Diego’s Republican Mayor, Kevin Faulconer, is a co-chair of Mayors for 100% Clean Energy.

  1. 100% Clean Energy Won Big on Election Day

Across the country, from East Lansing, Michigan to St. Petersburg, Florida, 100% clean energy champions won big on Election Day, reaffirming that local communities want more clean energy!

  1. U.S. Climate Leadership is All About Local

During the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, U.S. cities and mayors joined other local leaders to stand behind the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Mayors affirmed #WeAreStillIn by doubling down on local support for bold climate action. The aggregate climate actions of We Are Still In signatories and other non-federal U.S. actors are being quantified through America’s Pledge, an initiative spearheaded by UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg and California Gov. Jerry Brown.

  1. The Sierras Went All-In On Renewable Energy

South Lake TahoeNevada City and Truckee, California all committed to 100% clean, renewable energy this year, leading the way for other communities across the Sierras. Mountain towns in the West have been leading a move to clean energy to save their snow and the tourist industry.

  1. Ready for 100 Released 2nd Annual Case Studies Report

The Ready for 100 campaign released a new report in English and Spanish highlighting 10 cities across the U.S. that have committed to 100% renewable energy and the steps they are taking to get there. Featured cities span from coast to coast, and include tiny towns and large metropolises. This is the second case studies report issued by Ready for 100, following a 2016 release.

  1. What Do an Eagle Scout, a Colonel, and a Utility Company Have in Common?

They all support 100% renewable energy! Community members packed a town hall in Breckenridge, Colorado, in support of the town adopting a goal to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035. Testimony included fifth-grade Boy Scout Eli Larson, who stated, “If this global warming keeps up, we might not even have a winter.” And a U.S. Colonel testified that there was a mandate from the community to go renewable. Six Colorado cities in total have committed to 100%, including Nederland and Lafayette this year. An Xcel Energy spokesperson acknowledged that the utility would do everything it can to help cities achieve their goals.

  1. Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is #ReadyFor100

Since Salt Lake City committed to 100% renewable energy last year, Mayor Jackie Biskupski has been on a mission to get other mayors on board. A co-chair of Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, Mayor Biskupski has rallied support for 100% everywhere from Twitter to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

  1. Two Massachusetts Cities Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy

Cambridge and Amherst, Massachusetts passed resolutions in 2017 committing to 100% clean, renewable energy. As the first municipalities to do so in Massachusetts, the cities are leading the way in the Bay State.

  1. Ameren Missouri Proposed Wind to Help Meet St. Louis’s 100% Clean Energy Goal

Ameren Missouri, the utility serving St. Louis, acted right away on the city’s 100% clean energy commitment, which passed in October. The utility has invested $1 billion in wind projects and now wants to create a Renewable Choice Program for customers that would give cities and companies the option to buy wind energy.

  1. TOAD the Wet Sprocket Took Ready for 100 on Tour

TOAD the Wet Sprocket went on tour with a cause this summer. Promoting the Ready for 100 campaign at tour stops across the country, the alternative rock band encouraged fans to join the campaign and support 100% renewable energy!

  1. Coastal California Cities Embraced 100%

This year, the cities of Santa BarbaraMontereySolana BeachChula Vista and Goleta, California all made commitments to transitioning to 100% clean, renewable energy. To date, 14 cities across California have committed to running entirely to clean energy.

  1. Scotland Will Reach 100% Renewable Energy By 2020

The Scottish government confirmed the country is on track to get all of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Scotland hit its 2020 emission targets five years early and has gone from delivering 10% to 60% of its electricity consumption from renewable sources over the past 15 years. For the first six months of 2017, wind power provided enough electricity to meet 118% of Scotland’s national demand.

  1. Greater Philadelphia Is Sparking a Movement for 100% Clean Energy in Pennsylvania

Three Philadelphia-area communities committed to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy. West ChesterPhoenixville Borough and Downingtown in Chester County all set goals to move entirely to renewable energy, setting the bar for Philly and other Pennsylvania cities to follow. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney pledged supportfor the goal through Mayors for 100% Clean Energy this year, a great first step.

  1. Hawai’ian Mayors Committed to 100% Renewably Powered Ground Transportation by 2045

In December, mayors from the City and County of Honolulu, Maui County, Hawai’i County and Kaua’i County committed to transforming Hawai’i’s transportation to 100% renewable fuel sources by 2045. The proclamations build off of Hawai’i’s goal to transition away from fossil fuels in the electricity sector by the same date.

  1. It’s Not 100% If It’s Not Equitable and Just

This year California adopted legislation requiring all communities in the state to integrate environmental justice policies, objectives, and goals into their General Plans. In October the California Environmental Justice Alliance released a toolkit to help cities integrate these changes. NAACP also released a national toolkit on Just Energy Policies & Practices, a resource for energy justice advocates. And Island Press published a new book titled Energy Democracy, Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions, a collection of essays from leaders across the U.S. who are winning local campaigns that demonstrate what an alternative, democratized energy future can look like. #powertothepeople.

  1. More Than 50 (Yes, 50!) Cities Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy

The Ready for 100 campaign hit a milestone when Truckee, California became the 50th city in the U.S. to make a 100% commitment. The Town Council adopted a resolution to move entirely to clean electricity town-wide by 2030, as well as all energy sources by 2050. See a complete list of all cities, counties, and states committed to 100% clean energy here. Ready for your community to be next?




Madison navigates partnership with utility as it pursues 100 percent clean energy goal

by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

On March 21, Madison’s city council signed a resolution committing the city to power 100 percent of its operations with clean energy.

The resolution was especially notable since the utility serving Madison gets almost half of its power from coal, and several years ago was among Wisconsin utilities making national headlines for policies seen as hostile to distributed solar energy.

But now the utility, Madison Gas & Electric (MGE), city officials and clean energy leaders are negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding that lays out plans for the expansion of solar, the spread of electric vehicles and other clean energy improvements. And the utility has pledged its support for the city’s clean energy goal.

Advocates describe the MOU and the city’s recent choice of consultants to develop clean energy plans as important progress.

Michael Vickerman is the program and policy director of RENEW Wisconsin and a member of the city’s Sustainable Madison Committee. Speaking in his role as a committee member, he called the MOU historic.

“It will enable the utility and one of its customers to jointly plan clean energy projects,” he said. “This generally doesn’t happen with utilities. You may think of the city as this governmental powerhouse, but in the eyes of the utility it’s just another customer. In order to commit city resources and staff time to joint endeavors and also for the utility to commit its own personnel and resources, both the city and MGE believe the scope of work should be spelled out in some kind of agreement.”

But some controversy over the MOU also shows how challenging it can be to bring together multiple parties with different responsibilities and interests in pursuit of a target as ambitious as 100 percent clean energy.

In 2016 the city adopted an energy work plan that included a promise to sign an agreement with MGE regarding collaboration on topics including electric vehicles, solar and grid modernization.

In June a resolution was introduced to the council that would give the city attorney and Mayor Paul Soglin authority to execute the MOU. The group Repower Madison and several council members were concerned that this measure meant the council and the public would not actually have formal say over the contents of the MOU. And, they were unhappy that a May draft of the MOU did not mention the city’s 100 percent clean energy goal or anything about coal-fired power.

Council member David Ahrens said the proposed MOU was not given to council members to review when the resolution about it was first introduced, “creating a level of suspicion and unease about the process.” When the early draft of the proposed MOU “inadvertently” was made public, as Ahrens described it, he was disappointed that the 100 percent clean energy goal was not mentioned.

An improved draft

An amended draft MOU dated July 11 does note the city’s goal of 100 percent clean energy.

MGE spokesperson Dana Brueck said, “MGE supported the resolution for 100 percent clean energy at every stage as well as the Energy Work Plan. We believe we can accomplish more [toward the clean energy goal] by working collaboratively.”

A supporting document with the MOU proposes ways the utility and city could collaborate, including on a shared solar project, increased outdoor solar lighting, electrified public transit, electric vehicle group buys and boosting participation in the city’s voluntary energy efficiency benchmarking program.

Vickerman applauded these ideas and said he is especially hopeful about a solar program that MGE is developing with Madison, wherein the city or other entities could buy solar power directly from solar arrays that are not on their own sites.

“The city doesn’t need the MOU to build renewable generation on its own premises — that has been happening already,” Vickerman said. “But the memorandum of understanding will enable the city to talk to MGE about their [city] plans to enter into contracts with other generators or maybe with MGE to build larger clean energy projects.”

Vickerman also said the MOU would help the city’s ongoing efforts to electrify its buses and other vehicles, adding new charging stations.

“It’s going to be rather difficult for cities in general to have an influence over where these charging stations go, unless they negotiate and plan directly with the utility,” he said. “That’s an area spelled out for collaboration.”

Repower Madison organizer Mitch Brey said the group is pleased with the focus on electric vehicles and other priorities cited in the MOU, and with the recent inclusion of the clean energy goal in the text. But he is still concerned that the MOU does not mention shifting away from coal, or address electric rates and fixed charges on bills. Repower Madison was formed in 2014 in response to MGE’s proposals to greatly increase fixed charges and other measures seen as hostile to distributed solar.

“It appears that MGE isn’t interested in talking about coal with the city,” said Brey. “If the utility is going to have discussions with the city, it should be about reaching the 100 percent clean energy goal. It appears a lot of the language used in this document is ‘identify, pursue, investigate, explore, develop, pilot.’ Pursue is fine, but these are a lot of verbs that indicate a lot of talking. There is a real big worry that this will amount to little more than greenwashing, and make MGE look like they’re a good partner but lack on deliverables.”

Vickerman countered that the city can’t control MGE’s energy mix as a whole, and that the goal is to spark enough solar and other renewables that Madison’s own city operations can be powered entirely by clean energy. With its Energy 2030 Framework, MGE has committed to provide 30 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

“The city has no authority over MGE’s generation – that is in the purview of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin,” Brueck said. “Our Energy 2030 framework sets clean energy goals and a number of objectives for the benefit of all of our customers. One of those goals includes transitioning away from coal, which we continue to do. Our ongoing transition is a priority independent of our collaboration with the city. Any further changes to our existing fleet would be sought in the interests of all of our customers and would be subject to approval by the Public Service Commission, which has sole authority over MGE’s generation.”

The resolution authorizing the mayor to sign the MOU was slated to be voted on in a city council committee on July 17, but that vote was delayed until August 21 — which Brey noted is the day of the solar eclipse.

Mutual support

The proposed MOU says that the city will support MGE in regulatory matters before the state Public Service Commission or other bodies, “that are, in the City’s judgment, consistent with the cooperative intent of this MOU.” Likewise, it says MGE will support matters before city council that are in the spirit of the MOU.

Ahrens expressed reservations about the promise to support MGE on issues before the Public Service Commission, since the MOU “doesn’t define what those issues might be.” He pointed to MGE’s previous requests to the commission for drastic fixed rate charge increases, saying “that was a blunder of huge proportions for them.”

In 2017 MGE increased its overall electric and gas rates, but kept a promise not to seek further increased fixed charges.

“Our collaborative efforts with the city have nothing to do with rate cases,” said Brueck. “The city has no authority over or oversight of MGE rate cases.”

The proposed MOU would create a steering committee with five members from the utility and five from the city or the Sustainable Madison Committee, including Vickerman and committee chair Raj Shukla, who is executive director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin.

Brey said Repower Madison wants to see an elected representative on the steering committee, they want the meetings to be public and they want the steering committee to issue periodic public reports.

Brey thinks that Madison and MGE should look for inspiration in Minnesota, where utility Xcel and the city of Minneapolis in 2014 signed an MOU. That MOU formed a board of representatives from the city, Xcel and Centerpoint Energy, who meet at least quarterly and come up with specific deliverables that will help Minneapolis fulfill its Climate Action Plan, including a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 (from 2006 levels).

“We need to work toward agreement like that or it’s not really worth having,” said Brey.

But Vickerman feels confident about the latest draft of the MOU, and the clean energy goal more broadly.

“We would consider this particular agreement to be absolutely essential for the city to achieve its goal,” Vickerman said.


El Paso Electric powers up state’s largest community solar grid

by Steve Hanley, Clean Technica

El Paso Electric has powered up the largest community solar grid in the state of Texas. As a kind of trolling of the outgoing pollution industry (unintentional trolling, we would presume), the community solar facility is located next to an existing natural gas generating facility. It’s a 21 acre solar farm, which would be hard to miss, and has a max output of 3 megawatts of power thanks to the whopping 33,000 solar panels in the “farm.” Basically, this makes it “commercial scale” more than “utility scale” (large solar farms go into the hundreds of megawatts), but the “community solar” designation means that consumers can buy into the ownership and rewards of the solar project.

The community solar farm “is currently maxed out at 1,500 customers with an additional 500 customers on a waiting list,” Fox News reports.

The solar panels are mounted to racks that tilt to follow the sun during the day, maximizing efficiency. Each has been treated with a special coating to reduce the reflected heat they give off on a sunny Texas day, something that has proven hazardous to birds in some areas.

El Paso Electric began the permitting process in June of 2015. Construction began in November of last year. Enrollment opened in March 2017. And the community solar project was fully subscribed by the end of April. In other words, there seems to be clear and strong demand for community solar power opportunities … even in Texas (which already has large and well known wind power and natural gas industries).

“This is actually one of the first facilities where we actually now own it. And now with our customers voluntarily being part of that program it becomes a program I think our customers will be proud to see,” said Eddie Gutierrez, a spokesperson for El Paso Electric.

Community solar is designed to meet the needs of people who can’t have rooftop solar of their own, like renters and condo dwellers. There’s a large portion of the population that simply doesn’t have a roof they can put solar panels on in order to clean up their electricity supply, or who perhaps have a roof but one that is not able to produce a lot of solar power (often due to shading). Community solar is the solution that allows them (you?) to go solar as well.

Subscribers pay a fixed rate of $20.96 per kilowatt per month for their community solar power. That’s higher than the regular retail rate in the area but it protects customers from any price increases for conventional power in the future, which are likely. Subscribers must sign up for a minimum of one kilowatt but can add to their subscription in half-kilowatt increments. Pricing details are available on the company website.

A one-year agreement with El Paso Electric is required initially, but customers are free to leave the program at any time after the expiration of the first year. The membership is portable, provided the subscriber moves to another location in the EPE service area. El Paso Electric is planning similar community solar projects for subscribers in New Mexico in the near future.

“Utility community solar programs have proven to be successful around the nation as electric utilities are able to utilize cost effective utility-scale solar resources in developing customer offerings, and EPE is excited to bring this new program to our community,” says former EL Paso Electric CEO Tom Schokley. (What are the odds that a utility company CEO would be named Schokley?)



The irreversible rise of the clean economy in 2017

by Nigel Topping,

In this new monthly column, We Mean Business, a global coalition of non-profit organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses, shows how industries are accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon economy.

The path to a low-carbon economy faces strong headwinds in the year ahead, due in part to the uncertain political backdrop in countries such as the United States. But despite these challenges, 2017 looks set to be the year when a global momentum to reducing emissions reaches a critical turning point.

One of the key reasons for optimism is the growing leadership of China in driving the low-carbon economy. The presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos for the first time this year underlined the country’s growing commitment to climate protection and its willingness to invest in the future.

China steps up

China plans to invest $360 billion in renewable energy through to 2020, an investment expected to create some 13 million jobs by the end of the decade. From 2012 to 2015, China spent $340 billion on clean energy — more than any other country in this period. China also has committed to grow renewables to 20 percent of their energy mix within 15 years — an amount equivalent to the entire U.S. energy sector.

Meanwhile, China’s commitment to electric vehicles looks set to create global vehicle manufacturing leaders in companies such as BYD Auto Company and BAIC Automotive Group — whereas a potential rollback of fuel efficiency standards in the U.S. could dampen the impressive growth in Tesla and GM EV sales.

China plans to invest $360 billion in renewable energy through to 2020, an investment expected to create some 13 million jobs by the end of the decade.

Distributed leadership

The Paris Agreement reached the level of support needed for ratification in just 10 months, making it the fastest international agreement in history. One of the additional successes of Paris was the creation of distributed leadership — the bold commitments of cities, states, regions, investors and businesses on climate change mean that the energy transition continues to accelerate.

Distributed leadership from business represents massive market signals to encourage investment in new product development. For example, well over 200 companies have committed to science-based targets for tackling climate change.

Late last year, the mayors of the world’s megacities committed to turn the Paris deal into concrete action by acting to reduce peak emissions by 2020 and then nearly halve carbon emissions for every citizen in a decade, keeping the world within a warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius. If all cities of 100,000 people or more act on the recommendations set out in C40’s Deadline 2020 report, we will achieve 40 percent of the emissions reductions necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

By the close of COP22 in Marrakesh in November, the 48 country members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum committed to 100 percent renewable energy, reflecting corporate ambition to do the same — as demonstrated by companies such as General Motors and Walmart joining the RE100 initiative.

Well over 200 companies have committed to science-based targets for tackling climate change.

Ratcheting up ambition

Major countries are already ratcheting up their ambition — for example, India’s Paris plan committed to generate 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, but in December it upped that ambition to 57 percent by 2027.

According to a We Mean Business (WMB) report, produced in partnership with BSR, implementing the Paris Agreement will unlock at least $13.5 trillion (PDF) of economic activity globally. And leading companies are reaping the benefits of innovation driven by clear, bold climate targets: The revenues of businesses who are decoupling their growth and emissions grew an average of 29 percent, over a five-year period, while their emissions fell by 26 percent overall, according to a CDP report, in collaboration with WMB.

The transition to the zero carbon economy has accelerated and is, if anything, more inevitable, given the momentum in renewable energy and electric vehicles.

The transition to the zero carbon economy has accelerated and is, if anything, more inevitable, given the momentum in renewable energy and electric vehicles. Then-President Barack Obama wrote last month that “the trend toward clean energy is irreversible,” stating that twice as many Americans work in the clean energy sector than in electric power generation from fossil fuels. On top of this, between 2008 and 2015 the cost of electricity fell 41 percent for wind, 54 percent for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installations and 64 percent for utility-scale PV.

These are economic drivers that cannot be ignored and populist protectionism is unlikely to provide solutions to long-term issues. 2017 will be a crucial year to drive forward the move towards a more resilient low carbon economy.