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Treading (Lightly) Toward a 100% Clean Energy Future


No matter how the conversation about a “Green New Deal” evolves (or not) in Congress, states and cities across the U.S. are implementing codes, policies and initiatives for clean resources, carbon reduction, and distributed energy.

Despite some efforts to the contrary, this trend has been growing faster in the past 12 months than ever in history.

All stakeholders in the building industry, from equipment and systems manufacturers to planning, design and construction professionals, to commissioning providers, TAB, and operations specialists will ultimately be affected.

It’s true that some of us may retire before goals are met, but the incremental enactment of laws and initiatives to minimize CO2 and other emissions treads along as a national and global trend.

Twenty percent of U.S. states have approved or proposed date-specific goals. Over 90 cities, more than ten counties, and some utilities have already adopted ambitious 100% clean energy goals.

Approved:

  • California: carbon-free electricity by 2045
  • Hawaii: 100 percent renewable energy by 2045
  • New Jersey: 100 percent clean energy by 2050
  • New Mexico: Zero-carbon electricity from public utilities by 2045; renewable energy targets of 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040
  • Puerto Rico: 100 percent renewables by 2050
  • Washington: 100 percent clean energy by 2045

Proposed:

  • Illinois: 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050.
  • Michigan: 80% carbon reduction by 2050
  • Minnesota: 80% carbon reduction and 100 percent clean electricity by 2050
  • New York: 100 percent zero-carbon energy by 2040
  • Wisconsin: requires utilities be carbon-free by 2050

Xcel Energy, serving customers in 8 states, is the first major U.S. utility to commit to eliminating all carbon emissions by 2050. Other midwestern electric utilities that are able to rely increasingly on wind and solar power, are pursuing clean energy goals.

Consideration of the Green New Deal bill in Congress is both a driver and a result of the diverse actions being taken around the country. The bill calls for supplying all power using 100 percent “clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” not just renewables.

It also calls for deploying distributed smart grids, upgrading buildings for efficiency, updating infrastructure and building resiliency through community-focused projects, and it targets net-zero emissions.

 

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