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States Shifting to Clean Energy See Progress

November 16, 2016

An increase in electricity generation from renewable energy sources and policies driving a shift to clean energy are revealed in a new report from the Georgetown Climate Center that highlights 19 states’ progress toward a cleaner and more efficient electricity system. Progress includes a 40 percent increase in wind energy capacity nationally, and a 577 percent increase in solar capacity growth between 2011 and 2014.

The 19 states profiled are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Energy policies some states are pursuing include enacting strong renewable portfolio standards, taking steps to pursue power-purchase agreements to procure renewable energy on a long-term basis and using innovative financing mechanisms or tax policies to support clean energy development. States are also becoming more energy efficient, showing a 7 percent increase in energy savings between 2013 and 2014, the report reveals.

Washington, California, Oregon and New York are requiring cuts in carbon pollution, while Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order seeking steps to reduce carbon emission from in-state power plants. States are taking action for a variety of reasons – from diversifying energy resources and cutting energy waste, to focusing on reducing carbon pollution in response to climate change.

The combined actions have contributed to a 6 percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector between 2012 and 2015, as well as bringing economic and health benefits to the states’ residents, according to the report. For instance, Nevada’s Renewable Energy Tax Abatement program has attracted more than $6.5 billion in economic benefits or in-state investments and created more than 4,000 jobs paying an average of $41 an hour, the report indicates.

The Georgetown Climate Center first released a report detailing state efforts to shift to clean energy in 2013. Both reports were done to highlight specific state policies that are being used to shift to clean energy and offer lessons for other states across the country.