The road to 100% renewable energy — January update

By Susan Rakov
Senior Vice President, The Public Interest Network; Managing Director, Frontier Group

Imagine a world powered by clean, renewable energy. Environment America’s advocates, organizers and members are spreading this vision to college campuses, cities and states across the country, organizing for commitments to 100 percent renewable energy.

A big clean energy milestone: California surpasses 1 million solar roofs

Two former California governors came together to celebrate a clean energy milestone once considered unreachable -- a million rooftop solar systems in the state.

On Dec. 12, Jerry Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Environment California State Director Dan Jacobson, California Solar & Storage Association Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro (formerly Environment California’s original lobbyist for the Million Solar Roofs program) and others spoke at the event at the Buchanan High School in Clovis.

“As we strive to meet our state’s 100 percent clean energy goals, we need solar energy and energy storage technologies on every available rooftop and in every available garage,” said Dan.

In 2006, then-Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the Million Solar Roofs Initiative into law, which set a goal of building one million solar energy systems throughout the state. Since then, solar installations have grown almost 50-fold. Environment California played a key role in proposing and advocating for the policy.

Read our full statement.

Photo: Dan Jacobson celebrates the million-roof milestone with former Gov. Schwarzenegger. Credit: Tomas Ovalle

Our deepest thanks and best wishes to Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy Senior Director Rob Sargent

After 35 years with Environment America and the rest of our network, Rob Sargent is stepping down from his role as director of our clean energy program.

Rob has always been the guy who gets things done -- from leading successful campaigns to save Fenway Park from demolition and clean up Massachusetts’ “Filthy Five” coal-fired power plants, to ignoring naysayers to launch a nationwide movement for 100 percent renewable energy. His passion and commitment have inspired hundreds of organizers, both onsite, day to day, and across the environmental community. 

“I mean, who else do I know who started something that is now recognized as a movement in most states in the country? I can't think of 100 percent renewable -- and neither can anyone else in the clean energy world -- without thinking of Rob,” said Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America’s clean energy program team.

Environment America will welcome Johanna Neumann as the Campaigns for 100% Renewable Energy senior director in 2020. In her nearly 20 years with our network, Johanna has run a number of winning state campaigns on a range of issues. Her strong background in clean energy issues helps make her the best possible “replacement” for the irreplaceable Rob. We look forward to making continued clean energy progress together.

Photo: Rob Sargent visits Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, our nation's first commercial offshore wind farm. Credit: Staff

Which states will commit to 100% next?

Keep up to date on our campaign and see our road to 100% progress map on our website. 

Check it out


Rhode Island sets sights on 100% renewable electricity 

The smallest state is making big moves on clean energy.

On Jan. 17, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order establishing a goal to meet 100 percent of the state’s electricity needs with renewable sources by 2030. Rhode Island’s Office of Energy Resources now has until the end of the year to create a plan and complete an analysis to meet the governor’s goal.

“With its unmatched potential for offshore wind energy, the Ocean State has a golden opportunity to be a clean energy leader,” said our national network’s 100% Renewable Energy Campaign Director Emma Searson. “Gov. Raimondo is seizing that opportunity by the blades, establishing a bold target for renewable energy adoption that will give her state a cleaner, healthier future.”

Read more.

Photo: The United States' first offshore wind farm, Block Island, Rhode Island. Credit: The U.S. Department of Energy

No snow day for these Mass. students, as they call on legislators for 100% renewable energy

Classes were canceled because of snow, but college students still went to the State House for a cleaner, greener future.

On Dec. 3, Environment Massachusetts and members of MASSPIRG Students from 10 college campuses gathered at the State House in support of powering the state with 100 percent renewable energy. Students spent the day meeting with legislators, urging them to support the 100% Renewable Energy Act, which would transition the state to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and 100 percent renewable energy sources for heating and transportation by 2045.

“We can power our lives without polluting our air or changing our climate,” said Environment Massachusetts Clean Energy Associate Peter Schneider. “For years, Massachusetts has led the nation in reducing harmful pollution and expanding renewable energy. Our commonwealth’s leadership is needed now more than ever.”

Environment Massachusetts is supporting 15 bills as part of our 100% Renewable Energy Agenda.

Read more.

Photo: Environment Massachusetts and student activists from 10 campuses across the state with partner group MASSPIRG Students gathered at the State House in support of 100% renewable energy. Credit: Staff

Mayors from all 50 states call for a solar energy future

Across the nation, solar power is growing, and local governments are catching on.

On Dec. 9, Environment America Research & Policy Center released a letter calling for a future powered by clean, renewable solar power that was signed by 300 mayors of cities in all 50 states. In addition to signing the letter, these mayors are speaking out about the importance of solar power for their constituents’ health, and for smart governance.

“Solar energy is being embraced nationwide at a pace we once thought to be impossible, and our cities are at the forefront of this progress,” said Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Go Solar Campaign Associate Ben Sonnega. “Local officials are unlocking the power of the sun by taking advantage of millions of available rooftops and broad public support to bring cleaner, greener and more resilient energy to their communities.”

Read more.

Photo: Local officials are unlocking the power of the sun by taking advantage of millions of available rooftops and broad public support to bring cleaner, greener and more resilient energy to their communities. Credit: Olivier Le Queinec via Shutterstock

In the news

California now has 1 million solar roofs. Are 1 million batteries next?, Los Angeles Times, 12/12/2019

A year of sun in review: A look back at what 2019 meant for solar energy in the U.S., Environment America on Medium, 12/20/2019

Calif. requires solar on new homes, a first for U.S., E&E News, 1/14/2020