Aspen, Colorado, USA

Aspen, Colorado, USA

  • Target: 100% renewable energy
  • Status: Achieved
  • RES: Hydropower, windpower, and land-fill gas energy.
  • Implementation: The City of Aspen is located in the Rocky Mountains in the state of Colorado. As one of the most famous skiing resorts in the USA, Aspen welcomes many tourists every year. In particular, the city's winter population grows from approximately 7,000 to 50,000 people. This means that Aspen has to deal with a significantly higher energy consumption in winter compared to the rest of the year. In 1885, Aspen was already one of the first American municipalities to use hydroelectric power, and by 2014, hydroplants were covering 86% of the energy demand. The boost in hydropower has been largely due to the Canary Initiative, which was established in 2005, which identified Aspen and other mountain communities as “canaries in the coal mine” with respect to their sensitivity to the effects of climate change. The initiative laid out a Climate Action Plan, which would reduce GHG emissions by converting its energy supply to one based on RE. In cooperation with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory the city developed a strategy how to achieve this. Investments in renewable energy have enabled the utility to progressively replace fossil fuels. Finally, in August of 2015, the City of Aspen municipally owned electric utility achieved 100% renewable energy, by signing of a contract with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, a wholesale electric energy provider. Since then, the energy mix in the electricity sector is assembled by 46% hydro, 53% wind and 1% landfill gas energy. The new wind contract, which provides 95% of the new renewable energy, allows the city to only buy what it needs to keep it close to 100% renewable energies. The advantage of this arrangement is that it affords crucial supply management flexibility for dealing with inconsistencies in energy production from Aspen’s other resources, such as the fluctuations in hydro power. It also allows the city to avoid being forced to buy energy they do not need.
  • Population: 6,871 (2016)
  • Area: 3.88 sq mi (10.05 km2)
  • Link: https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy15osti/62490.pdf
Aspen, Colorado, USA

Beaverton, Oregon, USA

Beaverton, Oregon, USA

  • Target: Achieve 100% renewable energy target including all public buildings, streetlights, and the water supply. 80 percent carbon emissions reduction below current levels by 2050, with a near-term emphasis on 40 percent reduction by 2030.
  • Status: Achieved - Since 2014, 100% of electricity fed into the city's grid comes from wind power sources. It is the only city in the state of Oregon that procures all of its power, for civic operations, from Portland General Electric’s (PGE) renewable energy program.
  • RES: Windpower and solar.
  • Implementation: In the first instance, Beaverton created an Energy Map for the base year of 2012, and researched existing and proposed state laws. To achieve the energy target, the electricity that Beaverton uses is not sourced from renewable energies produced in the town, but through investments in renewable electricity, which offset the consumed power in the city. Beaverton teamed up with PGE to purchase renewable energy offsets equivalent to all of the electricity demands for the city. The renewable energy purchased powers the city’s street lights, traffic signals and water pumping. PGE acts as a public consultant and encourages the community to switch to 100% renewable energy via different green products and packages which they can can select according to their needs. Competitions and projects enhance the level of participation of community members, such as the Beaverton Better Buildings Challenge (Beaverton BBC) which aims to improve energy efficiency in local buildings 20% by 2020. The city provides participants of the program free energy consultation, assistance prioritizing efficiency projects and support with utility data tracking tools.
  • Population: 89,803
  • Area: 48.51 km²
  • Link: https://www.climatesolutions.org/article/beaverton-oregon-does-carbon-math%20
Beaverton, Oregon, USA

Berkeley, California, USA

Berkeley, California, USA

  • Target: 100% carbon-free energy in electricity, transportation and buildings by 2030, 100% renewable energy by 2035, and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Status: In progress
  • RES: Renewable electricity procurement, solar and wind power
  • Implementation: The City of Berkeley is committed to 100% renewable energy, as a strategy to mitigate greenhouse emissions and reduce the impact of climate change. The goal followed legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown pledging 100 percent clean energy use in California by 2045 and the University of California committing to 100 percent clean electricity use by 2025 and reducing energy use by 2 percent each year through its Carbon Neutrality Initiative.
    The city instituted the Berkeley Climate Action Plan, with the vision to reach net-zero energy use for all buildings by 2050 by requiring building owners to assess their energy use, and prioritize sustainable forms of transportation, such as walking, cycling and public transportation. The city also participates Community Choice Energy program, which allows local governments to buy and sell energy — an option that is often cleaner and cheaper for local residents. Berkeley has joined an initiative providing greater access to energy-efficient cars and infrastructure at a lower cost. With other Bay Area cities, the city calls for the end coal shipments. Source: dailycal.org
  • Population:  121,363 (2019)
  • Area:  17.66 sq mi (45.73 km2)
  • Link: Recommendations for a Fossil-Fuel Free Berkeley
Berkeley, California, USA

Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

  • Target: 100% electricity community-wide by 2050
  • Status: In progress
  • RES: Solar power
  • Implementation: Blacksburg City Council in Virginia is transitioning to 100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2050 through a series of “solarize” campaigns. It launched the Solarize Blacksburg program to encourage more city residents to go solar by addressing  the financial and logistical barriers to installing solar power. The city worked with installers to lower the costs of solar arrays by 16 percent. A neighborhood collective purchasing program was established for the city's communities. Unlike other solarize models which usually start with a neighborhood or team of neighbors getting together to form a co-op, and then vet and choose a contractor that will perform all of the solar installations, the Solarize Blacksburg model involved finding the contractors upfront, getting the companies to agree on specific pricing options and technical specifications, and then letting the community drive the demand. The model succeeded in quadrupling residential solar within 6 months. Despite it being home to Virginia Tech with 70 percent renter-occupied housing, and unfavourable state energy policies for solar, the model worked well. The follow-up program Solarize Montgomery was also very successful, with more than 800 subscribers.The two solarize programs were implemented as one-time programs to avoid the impression that the programs were ongoing which could have resulted in potential participants postponing the decision to sign up. In fact, after a program ended, the adoption of solar continued. Systems already installed in the community encouraged more residents to install solar power. In Montgomery County, solar use grew by 273 percent within three years. Since 2015, residential solar has more than doubled across the state of Virginia, and at least 25 other Virginia communities have created their own solarize programs. Source: governing.com
  • Population:  44,233 (2019)
  • Area:  19.77 sq mi (51.20 km2)
  • Link: 100% Renewables Resolution
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Boise, Idaho, USA

Boise, Idaho, USA

  • Target: 100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2035
  • Status: In progress
  • RES: Hydropower, solar, and geothermal energy
  • Implementation: Boise City Council in Idaho is committed to a 100% renewable electricity and has adopted the "Boise's Energy Future" plan to reach this goal. It builds on an earlier municipal target set by its mayor David Bieter of 100 percent clean electricity for city-owned buildings by 2030, as well as the goal set by Idaho Power, the electricity utility for the City of Boise 100 percent clean energy system-wide by 2045. The Boise’s Energy Future plan was developed over a year by the city with community organizations and businesses including local utilities. It involved extensive public outreach, including a citywide survey in partnership with Boise State University. The survey revealed that almost 80 percent of citizens either strongly or somewhat agree with the city’s goals to reduce energy use and transition to clean energy. For the city, it was imperative that the 100 percent target emphasises "affordability and equity in access to energy efficiency and clean energy for all residents.” Local renewable energy and technology would help grow its economy, creating good jobs, afford better energy choices for users, and improve public health.
    The city's plan lists several cost-effective electricity strategies. It includes supporting new electricity generation, increasing consumer participation in efficiency programs and Green Power Program, encouraging rooftop and community solar installation, and procuring green power for municipal buildings. Source: Boise's Energy Future Plan
  • Population:  228,959 (2019)
  • Area:  84.73 sq mi (219.45 km2)
  • Link: Boise Energy Plan
Boise, Idaho, USA
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Boulder, Colorado, USA

Boulder, Colorado, USA

  • Target: 100% renewable electricity community wide by 2030, interim goal of 40% renewable electricity/50 MW local installations by 2020
  • Status: In progress
  • RES: Solar energy
  • Implementation: Boulder is a small city located in the state of Colorado Rocky Mountains. In December 2016, the City Council voted to commit the City to 80% reduction in community greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2050, 100% renewable electricity by 2030, and 80% reduction in organization greenhouse gas emissions below 2008 levels by 2030. At the time of the plan's adoption, 99% of Boulder's energy for electricity, heating, and transportation came from burning fossil fuels. Roughly half of the City's GHG emissions were coming from electricity. Approximately 22% of electricity was being generated by renewables, with approximately 30 MW of local renewable power generation installed. More than half of this was local solar installations.

    By 2030, an all renewable electricity system aims to include 100 MW of local renewables, which will increase to 175 MW by 2050. This increase signals the City's strategy in moving towards 80% electrification. Electric vehicles and heat pumps for example will replace equipment formerly supplied by natural gas, and will demand greater electricity supply.

    To transition to all renewable electricity, Boulder's plan relies on a three part strategy. First is to reduce energy consumption. City-funded pilot projects aim to integrate efficiency with on-site generation and natural gas and petroleum replacement strategies. The City plans to expand demand side management services through the implementation of a municipal utility in lieu of the historic investor owned utility. To lower costs of owning on-site solar, the City plans to establish collective purchase agreements that allow groups to own solar projects. This can help reduce the overall demand for the municipal utility to supply electricity and scale up renewable energy procurement or installation. Second is to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. The City plan to analyse renewable generation and storage opportunities to replace fossil generation, as well as strategies for replacing natural gas and petroleum-based transportation. Third is to re-design critical community infrastructure and operations through mapping and strengthening resiliency and protection against power failure.
  • Population: 108,090 (2016)
  • Area: 25.85 sq mi (66.95 km2)
  • Link: https://bouldercolorado.gov/energy-future
Boulder, Colorado, USA

Breckenridge, Colorado, USA

Breckenridge, Colorado, USA

  • Target: 100% renewable energy in municipal operations by 2025, and 100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2035.
  • Status: In progress
  • RES: Community solar gardens
  • Implementation: The town of Breckenridge, Colorado aims to power its municipal operations entirely with solar energy by implementing five community solar gardens. It will achieve this based on the latest community solar gardens law (HB 19-1003) adopted by the state of Colorado, which has allowed dispersed communities to be connected to a renewable energy electric grid, by expanding the concept of community solar gardens, and the concept of “community.” Four of the solar gardens will be in Logan County, in the state’s northeastern corner, and another along Interstate 70 near the town of New Castle. The community solar concept pioneered by the state in 2010 is a model that has been adopted by other states such as Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, and Minnesota.
    Initial efforts in local solar development in Colorado did not work due to land costs, jurisdiction (more than 80% of Summit County were federal lands), ownership (remainder were private), and topography (land too forested or steep). A sizeable 2 MW community solar garden required at least 10 acres, which was a challenge for the high-priced mountain resort areas and Boulder County. The previous law also limited subscriptions. Community solar gardens had to be within the same county or an adjacent county to be a subscriber. This meant subscriptions by residents, businesses, and organizations in Denver for community solar were precluded.
    The Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act removed the adjacency requirements and stipulated that the solar garden must only be within the service territory of the utility serving the subscriber. The previous maximum of 2 MW was also increased to 5 MW allowing greater flexibility for solar developers and attracting larger subscribers such as school districts.
    Calls in recent years have been made to accelerate the modernisation of Colorado's electrical grid through at least one bill introduced by the state. This is in order to build new community solar gardens in rural areas to meet urban demands.
    The town of Breckenridge expects to save over $700,000 in energy costs through a 20-year contract with little upfront capital costs. Besides decarbonising the electricity supply to municipal buildings, it is overseeing Alta Verde, an 80-unit affordable housing project with a 500-kW on-site solar array. The town aims for all new construction to be net zero. Source: mountaintownnews.net
Breckenridge, Colorado, USA
  • © David Mark

Burlington, Vermont, USA

Burlington, Vermont, USA

  • Target: Meet 90% of energy needs including electricity, heating and transport with renewable energy sources by 2050 (State of Vermont target).
  • Status: Achieved - By September 2014, 100% of the city's electricity demand was supplied by renewable energy sources. First city in the United States to source 100% of electricity from renewable energy.
  • RES: Biomass, wind power, small hydroelectric plants, solar, landfill methane and large hydro.
  • Implementation: In 2014, the city purchased the Winooski One Hydroelectric Facility, a 7.4 megawatt hydro plant. Burlington Electric Department (BED) purchases renewable electricity credits to satisfy 100% yearly target. Joseph C. McNeil Generating Station fed with biomass covers up to 60% of the energy consumption. Wind farms covers around 17% of the electricity consumption.
  • Population: 42,239
  • Area: 40.1 km²
  • Link: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/burlington-what-works-green-energy-214463
Burlington, Vermont, USA

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

  • Target: 100% renewable energy in buildings and transportation by 2035
  • Status: In progress
  • RES:  Offshore wind and solar power, alongside energy efficiency retrofits, energy standard updates, public transportation improvements
  • Implementation: Cambridge is committed to 100%  renewable energy community-wide including  by 2035, with the goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Local organisations have also lobbied lawmakers to transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2045.
    The targets will require  strong measures to accelerate the transition via changes to current standards. The targets are underscored by the proposed H.2836 bill, which was sponsored by state Rep. Marjorie Decker and state Rep. Sean Garballey. The bill was supported by Environment Massachusetts along with the state chapter of the Sierra Club, as well as 150 local officials and other groups from across the state. The transition to renewable energy also drew strong support from medical professionals and medical students, who argued that the continued use of fossil fuels will damage public health especially amongst the vulnerable.To achieve the 100% goal, Environment Massachusetts has released a report outlining a series of measures including increasing energy efficiency efforts and updating energy standards, improving public transportation and creating walkable communities to reduce car dependency, developing offshore wind projects, and increasing solar power generation. One vital aspect of the city’s environmental and climate goal is the reduction of building energy use given that they are responsible for over 80% of the city’s total emissions, more than transportation and waste combined. The city's Cambridge Energy Alliance program assists residents and small businesses to reduce energy consumption by encouraging energy efficiency measures and investing in renewable energy technologies. Companies can refer to the city's energy requirements for LEED building and net zero energy planning. Source:cambridgema.gov

    The environmental group 350 Mass and Act on Mass created an initiative to collect signatures that asked voters to direct their representatives to vote for 100% renewable energy legislation, and to require that committees to make their votes on the legislation public. The aim was to convince lawmakers that voters supported renewable energy and wanted to hold their representatives accountable for their votes on this topic.

    The bill has yet to be passed due to the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic. But the topic of renewable energy and climate change have been kept in the forefront of recent discussions.

  • Population:  118,927 (2019)
  • Area:  7.10 sq mi (18.38 km2)
  • Link: Climate and Energy - CDD - City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge Community Electricity program
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • © David Mark

Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, USA

Wall House, Cheltenham Township, PA, USA

  • Target: 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable energy for heat and transportation by 2050
  • Status: In progress
  • RES: Solar power
  • Implementation: Cheltenham Township has the goal of achieving 100% renewable energy across all sectors by 2050 by focusing on efficiency upgrade of public and private buildings, and the transitioning of public transportation to renewable fuels. The township is developing a transition plan which will facilitate the adoption of technologies as they become available and affordable. Essential is the cost neutrality of  transitioning to renewable energy, as this will guide decisions involving buildings, vehicles and energy suppliers. It will impact transportation infrastructure and land use planning, in particular zoning codes with regards to energy efficiency. The township is presently working to review zoning requirements and remove restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit PV development. (Source: cheltenhamtownship.org)
  • Population:  37,103 (2016)
  • Area:  9.03 sq mi (23.4 km2)
  • Link: Ready for 100 - Cheltenham Township PA
Wall House, Cheltenham Township, PA, USA