Five more US states aim for 100% renewables

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Five new Governors-elect put forward campaign promises of introducing 100% renewable electricity goals – joining California and Hawaii.

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In the wake of the United States’ contentious mid-term elections and the substantial (if not overwhelming) Blue Wave which swept the country, there are at least five new Governors-elect who put forward campaign promises of introducing 100% renewable electricity goals if they were elected.

Now that the dust has (mostly) settled across the country, it’s worth looking at those five states who propose to follow in the path set by Hawaii and California – both of which are aiming to achieve that goal by 2045.

In Colorado, newly-elected Governor-elect Jared Polis announced during the campaign on his website that, “I’m running on a plan to bring Colorado to 100% renewable energy by 2040; we can’t afford to wait.” This will increase the state’s existing target of 30% by 2020, as set out in the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Governor-elect Ned Lamont in Connecticut similarly promised on his campaign website that, “I support strengthening the state’s RPS to at least 35 percent Class I renewable energy sources by 2025; at least 50 percent by 2030; at least 80 percent by 2040; and 100 percent by 2050.”

This will not only give further clarity to utilities and developers in the state but will double the existing RPS of 40% by 2030 and push it on to 100% by 2050.

Illinois’ newly-elected Governor J.B. Pritzker said on his campaign website that: “As governor, I will bring all stakeholders to the table to put Illinois on a path toward 100% clean, renewable energy and make sure that every community justly benefits during this transition.”

While less emphatic than his newly-elected brethren in Colorado and Connecticut, Pritzker’s promise is nevertheless more substantial than the state’s current RPS of 25% by 2026.

Working from the same playbook as Pritzker, Nevada’s Governor-elect Steve Sisolak – making his promise in campaign video – that “I am fully supportive of the ballot proposal to increase our renewable energy to 50% by 2030” – a measure which was passed, but must pass again in 2020 if it is to become law through referendum.

“In fact, as governor, I’d like to get us on the road to 100%,” Sisolak continued. “Clean energy creates jobs. We must prepare our kids for those jobs by investing in STEM education.” Currently, Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard sits at 25% by 2025, and thus, any expansion on this into the long-term is good news for the state’s renewable energy industry.

Finally, Maine’s Governor-elect Janet Mills was quoted in September as saying, “I believe that by 2050 we can transition to a healthy and prosperous economy relying virtually entirely on renewable energy. That’s my goal,” continued Mills. “Solar, onshore wind, offshore wind and eventually good battery storage as well as energy efficiency will get us there.”

Without the benefit of a set-in-stone campaign promise, Mills’ comments might seem to mean less, but Maine’s current RPS sits at 40% by 2017 and its current make-up of electricity sources (as of July 2018) is dominated by both hydroelectric and non-hydro renewables.

The possibility of Maine transitioning to 100% renewable electricity, therefore, is more about a long-term plan for shifting away from natural gas to renewables.

The US election also saw at least two smaller commitments made as campaign promises. Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico promised, “I will work to pass legislation that puts us on a path to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 80% by 2040.

We will further increase demand by joining interstate energy markets and approving expanded transmission infrastructure so New Mexico can export energy to high-demand markets in Arizona and California.” This would be an increase to the state’s current RPS of 20% by 2020.

Additionally, Oregon returned their Governor, Kate Brown, to office, who endorsed a goal of 100% “clean energy” by 2050 – though the information, which was confirmed by a campaign spokesperson, does not define exactly what “clean energy” refers to, and the state’s current RPS is already 50% by 2040, any promise to expand Oregon’s goals is good news.

Back in Australia? Well, the ACT will reach its goal of sourcing the equivalent of 100 per cent of all its electricity from renewables by 2020, and while South Australia has no such target, the market operator thinks it could get there by 2025 anyway. As will hydro-dominate Tasmania, as soon as it switches off the last of its gas generators.

 

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