The Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, where cities, counties and states pledge to reach 100% renewable energy by a certain date, has been a popular way for places to showcase their clean energy commitments. The Sierra Club reports that over 90 cities, 10 counties and two states have made the pledge, and six U.S. cities have already hit their targets. But those that haven’t, especially the states and large cities, will have to take serious action if they want to actually meet their goals.
Larry Sherwood, CEO of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, said during the IREC Vision Summit, “All of these goals are bold, and it’s going to take bold action to achieve these goals. In order to get that, we’re going to have to change the trajectory we’re on today.”
One city that took substantial action to stay on track is Los Angeles. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in February that the city was abandoning its plan to rebuild three natural gas power plants in an effort to move closer to its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045, according to the Los Angeles Times. Advocates in other areas are urging leaders to make similar decisions to accomplish RPS goals.
Empower NJ, a coalition of more than 50 environmental and grassroots groups, is urging New Jersey leaders to halt 12 proposed fracking projects in order to meet Governor Phil Murphy’s objective to transition the state to 100% clean energy by 2050. One of the findings of a report authored by the group was “Spiking GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions make it impossible to meet the clean renewable energy objectives of the Murphy Administration and the state’s obligations under existing law despite advances on offshore wind, battery storage, etc.”
In Illinois, the Path to 100 coalition of solar and clean energy advocates said starting in 2020, the state won’t be able to support additional solar and wind projects due to lack of funding. The group says the state must expand its solar funding to meet its statutory requirement of 25% renewable energy by 2025.
Setting feel-good 100% clean energy goals is a relatively easy step, but taking the action to meet that goal — against the wishes of the fossil fuel industry — is a real challenge that states and cities must carefully consider in every step of their energy plans.