As interest in going green grows worldwide, commitments from cities and states to use 100% renewable energy are becoming more prevalent. Washington D.C. signed a historic 100% renewable energy bill, making an unprecedented commitment to using clean energy. The states of Hawaii and California have also both committed to using only 100% renewable energy by 2045, as well as cities all over the nation in other states.
Already leading the nation in number of green healthy buildings, Washington D.C. claims it wants to be the greenest city in the U.S. As such, Washington D.C recently passed the Clean Energy D.C. Omnibus Act of 2018. Not only is Washington D.C. setting the standard for all states to follow, it’s also the largest city to make such a commitment thus far. Currently, the city has a mandate that 50% of its electricity be generated from renewable energy sources by 2032. This new bill increases that original goal to make the entire city of Washington D.C. use 100% renewable energy by 2032, with a 10% carve-out for solar power. This is the nation’s most aggressive 100% renewable energy bill so far, with support from both private gas and electric companies.
Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, which helped build support for the legislation, stated the day it passed “This bill is among the most ambitious pieces of climate legislation in the country, and today it became law because the D.C. community demanded it. The decisions made and policies discussed within the nation’s capital affect the country, and the world.”
There are several provisions within the legislation to help these changes take place. In addition to requirements for new buildings, current buildings with more than 10,000 square feet of floor area now have a benchmark that they must meet for energy efficiency. There are also new restrictions for transportation as well. The new bill states that by 2045, all public transportation and privately-owned vehicle fleets will have to produce zero emissions. Each year, utility companies must meet renewable energy standards set by the city, until 100% renewable energy is met by 2032. If a utility company fails to meet such a standard, they will have to make compliance payments into Washington D.C.’s Renewable Energy Development Fund (abbreviated as REDF).
While this bill is very promising in terms of promoting clean, renewable energy, there are still a few hurdles to overcome. Firstly, there are experts who say that unless the bill includes energy from some sources that aren’t renewable- such as nuclear power- powering the city on renewable energy alone just won’t be feasible. There are also concerns over the temporary increase in per-unit rates, as well as new fees on home heating and fuel oil. But proponents of the bill are confidant that these hurdles can be overcome, and are confidant that 100% renewable energy use in Washington D.C. by 2032 is feasible.
With accelerated tree-planting campaigns, new stormwater infrastructures, energy efficiency initiatives, and even a dedicated wind farm to power the capitol, Washington D.C. is painting itself into the future of sustainability. This bill is momentous for the solar industry, as well as other green energy industries. What could inspire more confidence in solar energy than the seat of our nation’s government choosing to use 100% renewable energy? As Washington D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh said, “This bill is historic. It will put D.C. at the nation’s forefront on reducing greenhouse gases.”