The Path to States Going 100% Renewable
States are increasingly becoming invested in transitioning to renewable energy. The most recent and notable of these comes from California, which passed legislation committing to become 100% renewable by 2045. Other states have begun to follow suit, and overall there has been a shift away from traditional power generation in the U.S. Energy sources like coal and natural gas are on their way out, but there are many more steps to take in the path to states becoming renewable.
Government Influence and Legislature
Unfortunately, the future of renewable energy use is mostly a political topic and decision. However, after the 2020 elections, more newly elected politicians are fighting for fewer carbon emissions. In the U.S., 34% of the population — or approximately 111 million people — already live in communities committed to 100% renewable energy.
Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Colorado have proposed energy initiatives. The issues represented by these bills include depoliticizing energy initiatives, deadlines for when energy needs to be renewable, raising taxes to fight emissions and whether a city will run its utility or enter a franchise agreement. As of May 2020, 16 states have passed laws with 100% clean energy targets.
All these progressive bills will undoubtedly aid in states becoming more renewable. Even if these bills don’t get passed, the fact that lawmakers introduced them and they’ve gained public support shows change is not far away.
Finding and Implementing Alternatives
While wind and solar energy are excellent options, it is still unclear whether they will meet all our energy demands. The most significant concern is whether these sources will generate and store enough power to use on dark and windless days. The need to eliminate coal is something most people agree on. Washington has begun to replace its coal usage with hydroelectric power.
One alternative power source is nuclear power plants. These are highly efficient and do not rely on weather conditions. The obvious downside is the chance of a hazardous situation if the nuclear power plant ever melts down. With the increased number of states passing legislation to be 100% renewable in the next few decades, finding alternative energy sources is a challenge that will need a solution soon.
It is always essential to remember that everyone can make small changes to help their state be more environmentally friendly. Consider installing solar panels on your roof or switching to a renewable energy supplier. When using electricity, it is crucial to follow all recommended safety precautions. With many more children staying home and attending school online, home electricity use has increased. Finding a renewable way to power homes with clean energy could have a significant impact.
Sustainability Is Our Future
Despite all the progress we’ve made, we still have a long way left to go. Renewable energy is our future and is worth our investment. Try to step up and do your part, but remember that the most impactful changes will need to come from elected officials. The crucial things you can do are to vote and make your voice heard.
Vote for candidates who are in favor of clean energy initiatives and who will continue to introduce bills about eliminating our carbon emissions. Write to and call your local elected officials and tell them you favor switching to renewable energy. Maybe the most critical step we can all take is to have conversations with our neighbors, friends and family about the future and how we can make it a clean one.
Jane Marsh works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co.