Tag Archives: renewable energy

A state by state look at renewable energy requirements

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have requirements that utilities get a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. Nine additional states have goals for renewable energy, while a dozen others have no targets.

A state-by-state look at renewable energy policies.

WISCONSIN

State law sets a target of 10 percent of all electricity coming from renewable sources this year. Requirements vary for each utility, but the amount of renewable energy must be at least 6 percentage points above its 2001-2003 average.

ALABAMA

No renewable energy standard.

ALASKA

A bill passed in 2010 sets a goal, but not a requirement, for Alaska to receive half its electricity from renewable and alternative energy sources by 2025.

ARIZONA

Public utilities must get 6 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2016, gradually rising annually to 15 percent by 2025.

ARKANSAS

No renewable energy standard.

CALIFORNIA

Utilities must get one-third of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. That requirement rises to 40 percent by 2024, 45 percent by 2027 and half of all electricity by 2030.

COLORADO

Utility companies currently must get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, rising to 30 percent by 2020. The standards are lower for electric cooperatives and municipal suppliers, topping out at 10 or 20 percent by 2020 depending on their size.

CONNECTICUT

Utilities must get 21 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources in 2016, gradually rising annually to 27 percent by 2020.

DELAWARE

Utilities must derive 13 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources this year, gradually rising annually until reaching 25 percent in 2025.

FLORIDA

No renewable energy standard.

GEORGIA

No renewable energy standard.

HAWAII

Utility companies must provide 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources this year. That requirement rises to 30 percent in 2020, 40 percent in 2030 and 70 percent in 2040. By 2045, all electricity must come from renewable sources.

IDAHO

No renewable energy standard.

ILLINOIS

Utilities are required to get at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources this year, gradually rising annually to 25 percent by 2025.

INDIANA

Public utilities can receive regulatory approval for larger earnings if they agree to obtain at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. As much as 30 percent of that target can come from clean-burning coal facilities, nuclear power and natural gas generators that displace coal-fired plants.

IOWA

The state adopted the nation’s first renewable energy law in 1983, requiring investor-owned utilities to have 105 megawatts of generating capacity from renewable sources. Utilities have far exceeded that threshold.

KANSAS

A state law had required at least 20 percent of a utility’s peak demand for electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. But an amendment passed this year made that a voluntary goal.

KENTUCKY

No renewable energy standard.

LOUISIANA

No renewable energy standard.

MAINE

At least 40 percent of total retail electricity sales must come from renewable energy sources by 2017.

MARYLAND

Utilities must comply with a gradually increasing standard that requires at least 20 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2022.

MASSACHUSETTS

Utilities must derive 11 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2016, gradually rising to 15 percent by 2020 and growing by an additional 1 percent annually thereafter.

MICHIGAN

Utilities must get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources as of this year.

MINNESOTA

Most utilities must provide 17 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2016, rising to 21.5 percent in 2020 and 26.5 percent in 2025. The state’s largest utility faces a higher standard of 25 percent from renewable sources by 2016 and 31.5 percent by 2020.

MISSISSIPPI

No renewable energy standard.

MISSOURI

Investor-owned utilities currently must get 5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 10 percent in 2018 and 15 percent beginning in 2021.

MONTANA

Public utilities must get at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources as of this year.

NEBRASKA

No renewable energy standard.

NEVADA

Utilities currently must derive 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources. That requirement rises to 22 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2025.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Utilities must get 16.7 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources in 2016, gradually rising annually to 24.8 percent in 2025.

NEW JERSEY

Utilities must get more than 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

NEW MEXICO

Public utilities currently must provide at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 20 percent by 2020. Rural electric cooperatives face a lesser standard of 5 percent renewable sources this year, rising to 10 percent by 2020.

NEW YORK

Utilities must get 29 percent of their electricity from renewable sources as of this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a goal of renewable sources comprising half of all electricity by 2030.

NORTH CAROLINA

Utilities currently must provide 6 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 10 percent in 2018. For investor-owned utilities, that rises to 12.5 percent in 2021.

NORTH DAKOTA

State law sets a voluntary goal of supplying 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by this year.

OHIO

A state law had required utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity from alternative sources by 2025, with half of that coming from renewable sources and half from improved technologies such as clean-burning coal or nuclear facilities. But a 2014 law put a hold on the gradual implementation of those standards, meaning the renewable energy portion of that requirement will remain at 2.5 percent in 2016.

OKLAHOMA

State law sets a goal, but not a requirement, for 15 percent of electrical generating capacity to come from renewable sources as of this year.

OREGON

Large utilities currently must get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 20 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2025. Smaller utilities face a renewable requirement of either 10 percent or 5 percent by 2025, depending on their size.

PENNSYLVANIA

Utilities currently must get 13.7 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, gradually rising annually to 18 percent by 2021. A portion of that can come from clean-burning coal facilities.

RHODE ISLAND

The state Public Utilities Commission delayed a scheduled increase this year in its renewable energy standards, citing a potentially inadequate supply. That held the requirement at 8.5 percent – instead of 10 percent – of electricity coming from renewable sources.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Utilities may choose to participate in an energy program that includes at least 2 percent of their electricity coming from in-state renewable energy facilities by 2021.

SOUTH DAKOTA

State law sets a voluntary goal of 10 percent of electricity coming from renewable sources and conservation efforts as of this year.

TENNESSEE

No renewable energy standard.

TEXAS

In 1999, the state set a target of having 5,880 megawatts of generating capacity from renewable energy by this year, with a goal of 10,000 megawatts by 2025. That long-range goal already has been exceeded.

UTAH

State law sets a target for utilities to provide about 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, if it is cost-effective to do so.

VERMONT

A law enacted this year converted Vermont’s renewable energy targets to requirements, meaning utilities will have to get 55 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017. That will rise periodically until it reaches 75 percent in 2032.

VIRGINIA

Investor-owned utilities have a voluntary 2016 state goal for their renewable energy to equal 7 percent of their electricity sales in 2007. That goal rises to 12 percent in 2022 and 15 percent in 2025.

WASHINGTON

Large utilities must obtain at least 9 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2016 and 15 percent by 2020.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Utilities must provide an amount of electricity from renewable sources that increases each year, reaching 20 percent in 2020.

WEST VIRGINIA

Lawmakers this year repealed a 2009 law that had set a goal for large investor-owned utilities to get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2015 and 25 percent by 2025. The repealed law had included certain coal and natural gas facilities in its description of renewable sources.

WYOMING

No renewable energy standard.

Apple cleaning up act in China with more renewable energy

Apple is cleaning up its manufacturing operations in China to reduce the air pollution caused by the factories that have assembled hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads during the past eight years.

The world’s most valuable company is working with its Chinese suppliers to eventually produce 2.2 gigawatts of solar power and other renewable energy.

The commitment announced this week represents Apple’s latest attempt to prevent the popularity of its devices and digital services from increasing the carbon emissions that are widely believed to changing the Earth’s climate.

Apple Inc. estimates 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution will be avoided as more of its suppliers rely on renewable energy between now and 2020. That’s like having four million fewer cars on the road for a year.

Panels capable of generating about 200 megawatts of solar power will be financed by Apple in the northern, southern and eastern regions of China, where many of its suppliers are located. The Cupertino, California, company is teaming up with its Chinese suppliers to build the capacity for the remaining 2 gigawatts of renewable energy, which will be a mix of solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

Foxconn, which runs the factory where the most iPhones are assembled, is pledging to contribute 400 megawatts of solar power as part of the 2-gigabyte commitment. The solar panels to be built by 2018 in China’s Henan Province are supposed to produce as much renewable energy as Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory consumes while making iPhones.

Apple has made protecting the environment a higher priority since Tim Cook replaced the late Steve Jobs as the company’s CEO four years ago.

“Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and the time for action is now,” Cook said in a statement. “The transition to a new green economy requires innovation, ambition and purpose.”

Apple just completed projects in China that generate 40 megawatts of solar energy to offset the power required by its 24 stores and 19 offices in the country. All of Apple’s data centers, offices and stores in the U.S. already have been running on renewable energy.

“When you look at all the air pollution in China, all the manufacturing that is done there has a lot to do with it, so this is a significant step in the right direction,” said Gary Cook, a senior analyst for Greenpeace, a group devoted to protecting the environment.

Apple also has a financial incentive to help make China a better place to live. The greater China region is Apple’s second biggest market behind the U.S. Tim Cook has made it clear that he wants the company to make even more inroads as rising incomes enable more of China’s population to buy smartphones and other gadgets.

Google, Facebook and other technology companies also have been investing heavily in renewable energy in an effort to cut the pollution caused by power needed to run the data centers that process and store information for the users of the digital services.

By some estimates, technology products and services account for as much of the world’s carbon emissions as the airline industry.

Apple can easily afford to go green. The company had $203 billion in cash at the end of June.

Hope for the future: Climate change is no longer a problem to be solved in some distant future

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about the dire consequences of climate change and the impending doom it will bring on the planet and all of mankind. Heat trapping gases created by our reliance on and addiction to fossil-fuel energy sources are raising the temperatures in our oceans and our atmosphere, melting ice caps throughout the polar regions and causing extreme weather patterns all over the globe.

Climate change is no longer a problem to be solved in some distant future. The negative results of carbon-based energy are here today, everywhere, and scientists are predicting even more devastation over the coming decades because of the lag effect. That means even more superstorms, severe drought, heat waves, oppressive smog, air poisoned by the release of methane gas from melting ice caps, and the potential extinction of up to half of all living species on the planet.

It’s quite depressing when you think about it, but does that mean we should throw our hands up in despair and accept defeat, accept that the very survival of the human race is doomed?

Not at all, says Al Gore. Remember him, the first presidential candidate to bring the issue of climate change to the national stage? He warned us all 14 years ago that global warming is a real problem _ not some paranoid theory fabricated by fringe scientists _ and that drastic policy and regulatory changes are needed to head off the problem before it’s too late. And then he was politically flogged for even suggesting ideas that the fossil fuel industry told us not only wouldn’t work but would ruin our economy.

The effects of climate change are more prevalent now than they were back in 2000, and the predictions for the future even more dire, but Gore says the situation is not hopeless.

“In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place,” he wrote in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine. “The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail.”

That shift is taking place on several fronts, Gore explains. First and foremost is the technological advancements in renewable energy that have made solar and wind power much cheaper and more efficient far more rapidly than anyone had predicted. The cost of electricity from photovoltaic solar cells is now equal to or less than the cost of electricity from other sources powering electric grids in at least 79 countries. Gore predicts that by 2020 — as the scale of deployments grows and the costs continue to decline — more than 80 percent of the world’s people will live in regions where solar will be competitive with electricity from other sources.

In fact, he wrote, in poorer countries, where most of the world’s people live and most of the growth in energy use is occurring, photovoltaic electricity is not so much displacing carbon-based energy as leapfrogging it altogether. In other words, regions of developing nations that have never had access to electricity have skipped over traditional power grids and gone straight to solar. Bangladesh, for example, is installing nearly two new rooftop PV systems every hour.

Here in America, more states are adopting net metering laws that allow homeowners who install solar PV systems to sell electricity back into the grid when they generate more than they need. As more consumers install solar panels — or buy into community solar projects like here in Windham County — utilities will have to raise prices on their remaining customers to recover the lost revenue. Gore says those higher rates will, in turn, drive more consumers to leave the utility system and so on, leading to the so-called utility death spiral.

All of this is creating a noticeable shift in the energy business. The rapid technological advancements in renewable energy are stranding carbon investments; grassroots movements are building opposition to the holding of such assets; and new legal restrictions on collateral flows of pollution are further reducing the value of coal, tar sands, and oil and gas assets. As a result, more and more investors are diversifying their portfolios to include significant investments in renewables, Gore explains.

The final significant shift Gore discusses in his article is political. The forces fighting against renewable energy are formidable, well financed and carry considerable political power built up over the past century _ Gore specifically mentions brothers Charles and David Koch, who run Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned corporation in the U.S. Gore says they have secretly donated at least $70 million to a number of opaque political organizations tasked with spreading disinformation about the climate crisis.

“But here is more good news: The Koch brothers are losing rather badly,” Gore wrote.

In Kansas, their home state, a poll by North Star Opinion Research reported that 91 percent of registered voters support solar and wind. Three-quarters supported stronger policy encouragement of renewable energy, even if such policies raised their electricity bills. Gore says it’s important for voters to keep the political momentum going.

“Now is the time to support candidates who accept the reality of the climate crisis and are genuinely working hard to solve it _ and to bluntly tell candidates who are not on board how much this issue matters to you,” Gore wrote. “If you are willing to summon the resolve to communicate that blunt message forcefully — with dignity and absolute sincerity — you will be amazed at the political power an individual can still wield in America’s diminished democracy.”

The bottom line, Gore says, is that there is still time to avoid the catastrophes that most threaten our future: “Each of the trends described above — technology, business, economics and politics — represents a break from the past. Taken together, they add up to genuine and realistic hope that we are finally putting ourselves on a path to solve the climate crisis.”

Editor’s note: Provided through membership in the Associated Press.

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