On Wednesday night Salt Lake City, Utah, officials announced a goal of transitioning the city to 100 percent clean energy by 2032. This move makes Salt Lake City the 16th U.S. city with a 100 percent clean energy goal - showing a clear trend across our country that Americans know clean energy means cleaner air and water, more economic opportunities, and good jobs.
These commitments demonstrate that city officials are no longer thinking incrementally about a transition to renewable energy, but boldly and inclusively. In developing a plan to meet a goal like this, cities have the potential to not only move to 100 percent clean energy, but to seriously work out how to do so in a way that advances local economic opportunity, energy affordability, and access for all residents. We look forward to watching how this energy plan comes together to build a cleaner, stronger and more equitable city.
Salt Lake City’s commitment also demonstrates renewable energy’s widespread popularity, even in more conservative states. Utah currently exports dirty energy to other states and more than three-fourths of the electricity consumed in the state comes from coal. As the largest city in Utah, Salt Lake City’s commitment will help accelerate the growing clean energy economy in the Beehive State. With coal mining and coal-fired electricity declining in the market, city-led clean energy commitments can assist the transition into a 21st Century energy economy.
The push among cities to declare 100 percent clean energy is changing the landscape and accelerating the renewable energy market. A new Ceres/CleanEdge ranking of utility clean energy deployment shows that these commitments are a driver for renewable energy growth. Utilities are being pushed by corporate and institutional customers with ambitious clean energy and sustainability goals. Customers’ - both families and businesses - demand for more clean energy is pressuring utilities to supply more renewable energy or else lose business to other means of local control like direct procurement, municipalization, and community choice aggregation.
Earlier this week more than 20 "leading and learning" cities came together to advance work toward 100 percent renewable energy at the first-ever North American Dialogue on 100 percent Renewable Energy in Cities. The Sierra Club co-hosted the event with Renewable Cities, ICLEI USA, and the City of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, and it was attended by former Environmental Protection Agency head / current Apple clean energy guru Lisa Jackson and many other experts and leaders.
On the heels of this unprecedented convening, Salt Lake City made the leap, and we expect there will be many more to come. Cities clearly know which way the wind is blowing.
The Sierra Club’s Ready For 100 program aims to inspire 100 cities commit to go 100 percent renewable by the end of 2018. We are already working in 25 cities with our allies, city leaders, businesses, and other local stakeholders to re-imagine our communities with 100 percent renewable energy.
We’re Ready for 100 - are you?