10 US Cities commit To renewables

US President Barack Obama looking at solar panels at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
US President Barack Obama looking at solar panels at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

The Sierra Club, North America’s largest grassroots environmental lobby group, has released a new report highlighting 10 US cities that have committed to be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.

The report is the first update of Sierra’s Ready For 100 campaign, launched this year, which challenged 100 American cities to abandon fossil fuels and transition to clean sources of electricity such as solar, wind, hydropower or biomass.

According to campaign director Jodie Van Horn, 16 cities – including California (CA) and East Hampton (NYC) – have already signed up to the challenge, and several have achieved the 100 per cent renewable goal.

“By embracing 100 per cent clean energy, these 10 cities are creating more equitable, healthy, prosperous and vibrant communities. It’s no surprise that clean energy commitments are wildly popular with the public. According to a national survey conducted by the University of Texas at Austin in spring of 2016, 90 per cent of American adults agree that the government should be focusing on developing renewable energy,” the report said.

Making the switch to renewable energy would save cities money and create employment, according to the report’s authors.

Solar prices in the US have dropped 80 per cent in the past 10 years and the cost of wind power around 60 per cent. The North American solar sector currently employs more than 200,000 people and is adding jobs at 12-times the rate of the national economy.

While state renewable energy goals have spurred several cities’ commitments to the Ready for 100 target, some have taken their own measures to become energy independent.

Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, has become the first in North America to cross the 100 per cent renewable threshold through a combination of biomass from logging waste (30 per cent), landfill methane plus wind and solar power (20 per cent), and the voter-backed purchase of the 7.4MW Winooski River hydropower facility at the city’s edge (50 per cent).