Webinar: Uniting States for 100% Renewable Energy

Experts, state officials celebrated increased adoption of clean energy in states, discussed what’s next

Environment America Research & Policy Center brought together top researchers, state leaders and advocates Wednesday to discuss the role of states in America’s ongoing effort to harness renewable energy sources such as solar and wind

Steven King | TPIN
Mark Jacobson

Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University

John Laird

California State Senator

Adam Schultz

Lead for the Electricity & Markets Policy Group at the Oregon Department of Energy

Uniting States for 100% Renewable Energy

Environment America Research & Policy Center brought together top researchers, state leaders and advocates Wednesday to discuss the role of states in America’s ongoing effort to harness renewable energy sources such as solar and wind — and generate electricity with their clean power rather than fossil fuels. Ten states have committed to phasing out dirty energy sources from their electricity mix after Rhode Island joined those ranks this summer. Beyond that, the clean energy tax credits in the new federal Inflation Reduction Act promise to turbocharge the adoption of clean energy.

“Renewable energy is on the rise across America thanks in large part to ambitious state goals and effective policies designed to achieve those goals,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, who moderated the webinar. “The recently enacted federal tax credits will give many Americans added incentives to invest in solar, wind, batteries and electric vehicles. Given that stronger federal support, now is the time for state leaders to expedite and enhance their plans to transition to clean energy.”  

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, who had been scheduled to speak, but was unable to attend, sent a statement saying: “As home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm, Rhode Island is a leader in the blue economy. This clean and reliable source of energy is vital for our state to meet its 100% renewable energy goal by 2033, as outlined in the Act on Climate, which I was proud to sign last year. Working together, a 100% renewable future is more than just ambitious, it is obtainable.”

The governor’s deputy chief of staff, Pastor Chris Abhulime, appeared in his stead. Abhulime reiterated that Rhode Island is “investing boldly in the renewable energy space. The governor truly believes in a renewable energy future” and that the state’s executive and legislative branches are working together and with regional partners on progress.

On the panel, Tony Dutzik, the associate director and senior policy analyst for Frontier Group previewed top findings from Environment America Research & Policy Center’s and Frontier Group’s upcoming report Renewables on the Rise 2022. The report, due online October 6, will feature an interactive web interface where users can see how states rank on key renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and battery storage) and how those technologies have grown in each state over the past decade.

“America produces three times as much wind, solar and geothermal power as we did a decade ago, and in some states, the rate of growth is even faster,” said Dutzik. “The growth in clean energy documented in our report should inspire policymakers and advocates to strive for even more ambitious clean energy goals in the years ahead.”

Stanford Prof. Mark Jacobson, the director of the university’s atmosphere/energy program, said ideally, we would be using 80% renewable energy across sectors in 2030, and should strive for 100% renewable usage by 2035 rather than 2050, though political realities may get in the way.

”We should be pushing as fast as possible for a transition in all energy sectors,” said Jacobson. “We should not have any new gas… There’s no need for two sources of energy in a building.”

This summer, Jacobson’s home state set a goal for 25 GW of energy from offshore wind, and passed several clean energy bills, including one that accelerates California’s timeline for meeting its commitment to use 100% clean energy, another to phase out inefficient lighting, and another streamlining permitting for rooftop solar panels and other distributed energy resources. 

Environment California Research & Policy Center’s State Director Laura Deehan says this session’s action by state leaders is a good start but more work is needed. 

“California needs to rapidly increase renewable energy and decrease energy waste every year between now and the end of the decade,” said Deehan. “Time is of the essence. To prevent hotter heat waves, more severe droughts and fiercer wildfires, the world needs California’s clean energy leadership.”

“Reaching our renewable energy goals is essential to addressing our climate crisis,” added California State Sen. John Laird. “While we’ve set ambitious goals for the future, we must now focus on the present steps that will help us achieve those goals. That’s why I authored the Clean Energy, Jobs, and Affordability Act of 2022, and am now encouraging a renewables ‘Marshall Plan’ – so we can get where we intend on going.”

Adam Schultz, the lead for the Oregon Department of Energy’s Electricity & Markets Policy Group said sound data, analysis and engagement with diverse stakeholders are guiding his state toward its next moves.

“States are leading the way in adopting aggressive climate and clean energy policies. For states that have these policies in place, like Oregon, we are now pivoting to confront the scale of renewable energy development we are going to need to achieve these goals,” said Schultz

Back on the East Coast, Massachusetts is undergoing a renewable energy revolution as well.

“Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center launched a campaign this fall asking state officials to bring the equivalent of one million solar rooftops — 10 gigawatts of solar capacity — to Massachusetts by 2030,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director of Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “Solar power is clean, local and abundant, and it’s going to play a key role in our transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”

“The keys to a future powered by 100% percent renewable energy are within reach,” said Neumann. “Now is the time for states to grab the wheel and build out renewable energy; modernize the grid; reduce and manage energy use; and repower our economy to take full advantage of clean energy’s benefits.” 


Mark Jacobson

Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University

Dr. Jacobson is the Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, where he has been on the faculty since 1994. Throughout his career he has focused on better understanding air pollution and global warming problems and developing large-scale clean, renewable energy solutions to them. He has published six textbooks and over 175 peer-reviewed journal articles and is recognized globally as one of the drivers of the movement for 100% renewable energy.

Ben Hellerstein

State Director, Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center

Ben directs Environment Massachusetts’ efforts to promote clean air, clean water, clean energy and open spaces in Massachusetts. In 2016, he launched a campaign to repower Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable energy. Prior to assuming his current role, Ben led the organization’s effort to get Massachusetts to 20 percent renewable electricity by 2025. His areas of expertise lie in renewable energy and the impacts of fossil fuel pollution, and he has authored reports on clean energy policies at the local, state and federal levels, earning media coverage statewide. Ben lives in Boston, where he enjoys exploring the city on foot, by bike and by public transit.

Laura Deehan

State Director, Environment California Research & Policy Center

Laura directs Environment California’s work to tackle global warming, protect the ocean, and stand up for clean air, clean water and open spaces. Laura served on the Environment California board for two years before stepping into the state director role. Most recently, she directed the public health program for CALPIRG, another organization in The Public Interest Network, where she led campaigns to get lead out of school drinking water and toxic chemicals out of cosmetics. Prior to that, Laura ran Environment California citizen outreach offices across the state and, as the Environment California field director, she led campaigns to get California to go solar, ban single use plastic grocery bags, and go 100 percent renewable. Laura lives with her family in Richmond, California, where she enjoys hiking, yoga and baking.

John Laird

California State Senator

John Laird was elected to the State Senate in 2020 to represent Senate District 17. Sen. Laird chairs and serves on a broad array of committees. In 2022, Sen. Laird sponsored SB1020, which codified a goal for California to hit 90% clean energy by 2035 and 95% clean energy by 2040. 

Tony Dutzik

Associate Director and Senior Policy Analyst, Frontier Group

Tony Dutzik is associate director and senior policy analyst with Frontier Group. His research and ideas on climate, energy and transportation policy have helped shape public policy debates across the U.S., and have earned coverage in media outlets from the New York Times to National Public Radio. A former journalist, Tony lives and works in Boston.

Adam Schultz

Lead for the Electricity & Markets Policy Group at the Oregon Department of Energy

Adam leads a four-person team working on electricity policy issues in the state. His portfolio covers a wide range of topics, including regional electricity planning, energy markets, and resource adequacy.

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