Washington DC has committed to plans to source 100% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2032, as part of its Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 which last week signed into law a raft of new clean energy policy initiatives.
The District of Columbia City Council voted before Christmas in favour of passing the Amendment Act, the second of two necessary votes to move the bill forward and placed on the Mayor’s desk.
Introduced in July 2018, the bill was first referred to the Committee on Transportation and Environment and then referred on to the Committee on Business and Economic Development, which further strengthened the bill by adding provisions to support workforce development.
“The ‘Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act’ is a historic piece of legislation that puts the District at the nation’s forefront in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Council member Mary Cheh in December.
“The fight to reduce the impacts of climate change is the most important environmental issue of our time and, if the federal government is to abandon us in this effort, then the District can serve as a model for other jurisdictions and states to follow.”
The headline policy initiatives from the bill include a new mandate that will see 100 per cent of the electricity sold into DC come from renewable energy sources by 2032 – doubling the previous target of 50 per cent by 2032.
The bill also doubles the required amount of solar energy to be deployed and includes a 10 per cent solar carve-out from the 100 per cent target, extending it out to 2042.
The bill, which is being described as the most ambitious renewable energy policy in the country, also mandates zero-emissions public transportation by 2045, significant energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings, and funding the DC Green Bank to attract private investment in clean energy.
“By signing the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 into law, we solidify Washington, DC’s place as the national leader in the fight against climate change and proudly communicate to the world that ‘we are still in,’” said Mayor Bowser last Friday. “If we are going to make progress on addressing climate change and global warming in our country, it’s going to be cities and states leading the way. With this ground-breaking clean energy law, we have created a model for jurisdictions across the nation to follow.”
Currently, in the United States, there are over 90 cities with 100% clean energy targets, I addition to six cities which have already reached a 100% clean energy goal – Aspen, Burlington, Georgetown, Greensburg, Rock Port, and Kodiak Island. A number of these targets are forward of Washington DC’s 2032 – such as San Francisco, which is aiming for 2030, or Minneapolis, Minnesota, which as committed to 100% renewable electricity for municipal facilities and operations by 2022, and 100% renewable electricity for community-wide by 2030.
However, Washington DC sets itself apart from most other cities by making its renewable energy commitment a legal requirement, much like that of states like California, Hawaii, and New York.