Our Cities Lead the Way

The Sierra Club launched the “Ready for 100 Campaign”, with the charge to accelerate the transition of 100 cities to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. They have compiled a list of cities who are leading those pursuits; three have already accomplished this goal! They define renewable as “carbon- and pollution-free energy collected from renewable, sustainably harvested sources, such as wind, solar, hydro, tidal, and geothermal, as well as energy efficiency.”  The definition does not include natural gas, nuclear, or any carbon-based energy source.

Image result for Sierra Club Ready for 100 Campaign logo
Sierra Club Campaign Logo

-Greensburg, KS – Population 785. The first town to go renewable in 2013 is mostly powered by wind energy. After being hit by a major tornado in 2007, they adopted the motto “Rebuilding..Stronger..Better..Greener.”

-Burlington, VT – Population 42,282. The first city to go completely renewable in 2014, uses a mix of hydro-power, landfill methane, wind, solar, and biomass energy.

Aspen, CO – Population 6,658. This small ski-resort town met its 100% renewable goal in 2015, utilizing wind and water.

Georgetown, TX – Population 54,898. By 2017, plans are to be 100% reliant on renewable-energy sources by taking advantage of wind and solar energy.

San Jose, CA – Population 960,000. This city plans to meet their 100% renewable by 2020 through energy reduction and solar capture.

Grand Rapids, MI – Population 192,000. The second-largest city in Michigan is on target for 100% renewable by year 2020, plans are to reduce energy usage and build solar facilities.

East Hampton, NY – Population 21,500. Plans are to build a massive wind farm off their shore and invest in solar energy to reach their 100% renewable goals by year 2020.

San Francisco, CA – Population 864,000. With the goal of 100% renewals by 2030, they are encouraging investment in clean-energy sources and pushing for reductions in energy usage.

Rochester, MN – Population 100,000. 100% renewable by year 2031

San Diego, CA – Population 1.37 million. As the largest city on the list, they are pursuing 100% renewable by year 2035.

More progress beyond their list:

Las Vegas (Population 603,488) just recently reached their 100% renewable energy goal after a ten year effort. They are using a combination of solar panels and hydroelectric turbines including the Hoover Dam.  They report renewable and energy efficiency savings will save the city roughly five million dollars per year.  In the state of California, Governor Jerry Brown is pursuing renewable standards of 50% by 2030 state-wide.

Fortunately, cities around the United State continue to march forward. According to EcoWatch, 96 United States cities are ditching fossil fuels in favor of 100% renewable, all committed to that pursuit with or without federal assistance. Eighty percent of our population lives in urban and suburban areas. As more cities and towns weld their local control and seize the health and economic benefits of renewables, their citizens lives improve. I applaud these cities for joining the world-wide effort.

As for Missouri, years ago the City of Columbia committed to 30% renewables by 2028.  And both Kansas City and St. Louis are pursuing goals that will meet EPA carbon reduction targets years ahead of schedule.  Kansas City Power & Light estimates their investments in wind and energy will save their customers one billion over twenty years. Springfield Utilities too found switching to wind power was 25% cheaper than coal, now at almost 36% wind power.

Likely most Missourians have forgotten, in 2008 we passed the Renewable Energy Standard, called Proposition C, by a three to one margin. This law requires the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities (including Ameren) gradually phase in renewable power, ramping up to 15% by 2021, utilizing 2% solar. Unfortunately, our legislators and officials have grappled with the language of the law so progress has been stifled. Ameren now sits at 4%; US Energy Information Administration reported Missouri utilized 3.7% renewables in 2015, mostly from hydroelectric power and wind. It’s unfortunate our voter’s wishes haven’t prevailed – some estimate Missouri has the solar and wind potential to switch to 100% renewables within ten years! Yet, according to the Sierra Club, Missouri is ranked at 39% for clean energy.