With Washington MIA: States, Utilities Pick Up the Climate Fight

January 10, 2019

Inside Climate News:

In Pennsylvania, a coal state where the fracking boom has also pushed natural gas production to the second highest levels in the nation, Gov. Tom Wolf is launching into his second term with a conspicuous move on climate change.

Wolf issued an executive order on Tuesday to set the state’s first economy-wide targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

His goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025 compared to 2005 levels mirrors the commitment the U.S. made as part of the Paris climate agreement. And his longer-term target—an 80 percent reduction by 2050—is in line with the decarbonization that scientists have said will be needed to keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

But meeting that target is easier said than done with Republicans in control of both chambers of the legislature, as the Democratic governor pointed out.


In 2018, California joined Hawaii as the second state to set a 100% renewable energy commitment, Farrell explains. Hawaii’s goal had been approved by regulators in 2017. In addition, five new governors have indicated moving forward such commitments in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, and Maine.

Solar Builder:

The Nevada solar industry got a shot in the arm on Election day with the passing of Question 6 and calling for a stronger economy fueled by clean energy. By putting the state on track to use 50 percent renewable energy by the year 2030 (doubling the previous RPS), Question 6 will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and create thousands of new Nevada jobs.

Independently, a broad coalition of supporters argued that Question 6 was the only way to guarantee that Nevada would get more of its power from renewable sources like solar. With this victory, it is clearer than ever that consumers are demanding more affordable clean energy.

“The momentum behind Nevada’s clean energy economy remains strong,” said Sarah Cottrell Propst, the Executive Director of Interwest Energy Alliance, a non-profit trade association that represents the nation’s leading companies in the renewable energy industry. “The passage of Question 6 will spur investment and advance the state’s leadership in one of the nation’s fastest growing industries.”

Below, Giant Michigan Utility DTE has set new, more aggressive goals for carbon free energy.

Colorado Public Radio:

At a time when the federal government questions climate science and relaxes emissions standards, Colorado’s largest utility company is going the opposite direction.

Xcel Energy vowed in early December to be carbon-free by 2050 — without raising customer’s bills. Carbon-free doesn’t mean 100 percent renewable energy. While the company will invest heavily in wind and solar, Xcel will also consider nuclear energy, battery storage and carbon-capture storage.



As the Trump administration continues to question climate science and reverse policies, many states are stepping up. Several incoming Democratic governors plan to push for cleaner energy. Grace Hood from Colorado Public Radio reports on that state’s ambitious goals.

GRACE HOOD, BYLINE: Governor-elect Jared Polis campaigned for 100 percent renewable energy in the state by 2040. That was a big draw for John Noyes.

JOHN NOYES: I know he likes the environment.

HOOD: Noyes lives outside Grand Junction, Colo., where he’s surrounded by public lands. As the Trump administration opens up more of it for drilling, Noyes worries about the impact.

NOYES: If you think about how inundated with the fossil fuels that we have become, we need to find something better. We need to find something more renewable.

HOOD: Just a few years ago, 100 percent renewable goals were pie in the sky. But the cost of wind and solar is plummeting. They can now compete with natural gas and coal. A few weeks ago, this economic landscape prompted utility giant Xcel Energy to pledge 100 percent carbon-free energy mid-century

Sierra Club:

  • In the race for Illinois Governor, Democrat J.B. Pritzker won on a platform of 100 percwent clean energy, and has talked openly about the need for coal transition in Illinois. Pritzker will take office as the state’s energy future hangs in the balance ahead of expected policy debate over opportunities to expand clean energy, reduce the state’s carbon pollution, and update air and water protection rules. Statewide, Illinois elected 17 climate champions who all ran on a platform of 100 percent clean energy.

Utility Dive:

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, on Monday pledged to bring New York to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 in a speech laying out his agenda for the first 100 days of 2019.
  • The pledge follows the New York Public Service Commission’s Friday order approving plans to implement the third stage of its Clean Energy Standard (CES), which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, with 50% of the state’s electricity coming from renewables by 2030. And on Thursday, the commission approved the most ambitious energy storage target in the country — 3 GW by 2030 and 1.5 GW by 2025 — as well as a target aimed at doubling utility energy efficiency progress by 2025.
  • Energy storage has become a major focus of the state’s groundwork toward its carbon-free goals, and the state also generates a third of its power from nuclear, noting in its CES fact sheet that “[m]aintaining safely operating upstate nuclear power plants will aid in the fight against climate change.”



3 Responses to “With Washington MIA: States, Utilities Pick Up the Climate Fight”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Nice. There will be a time after the big moron.

  2. J4Zonian Says:

    The DTE guy is to be commended, I guess, for not being a psychopath as many utility and fossil execs and politicians are, but he’s still delusional, unfortunately a very common affliction now. He’s not even close to what science is saying we need. 2050 is too late; 80% is too little, and the extremely low front end goals are exactly the opposite of what we need, since it’s not the end point on the curve that matters in reducing GHGs, it’s the area under the curve–the total accumulated emissions. I hope people with more sense in Michigan are campaigning to make the utility act more sensibly.

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