Denver sets a course for 100% renewable electricity by 2030

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As climate change becomes more and more of an immediate concern and as solar and wind become more and more obvious as practical means to address this, an increasing number of cities and states are upping their renewable energy ambitions. It should not be a surprise that this now includes the biggest city in a state which has seen some of the largest and cheapest wind, solar and battery projects to date.

Yesterday Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a wide-ranging climate plan that centers on a commitment to move municipal electricity use to 100% renewable energy by 2025, and the entire city’s power supply to 100% renewables by 2030. In doing so, the city of 600,000 joins 66 municipalities across the nation that have set a 100% renewable electricity goal – including San Diego and San Jose, California, both of which have more than 1 million residents – and six that have already achieved this.

 

Renewables of all scales

And in doing so, Denver appears to be focusing on providing more choices to electricity customers. According to the 80×50 Climate Action Plan, the city aims to “increase the capacity and types of specific customer choice programs”, including low-income community solar.

The 80×50 plan appears to focus on renewable energy at all scales, stating that “we can benefit from renewables on the larger grid while also looking at ways to develop Denver-specific renewable capacity.” This includes partnering with Xcel Energy, and the report notes that the city and the utility recently entered into a memorandum of understanding towards this end.

The plan also alludes to the possibility of a mandate for solar on new homes, similar to what has been enacted in California. “To achieve this target, Denver will act with partners in multiple areas, including pursuing additional renewable energy on new construction, residential rooftops and community solar gardens, and modernizing the grid,” reads the 80 x 50 plan.

The city also plans to act at the state level, stating that it will “defend and enhance” the state’s renewable energy mandate, as well as advocating at the Public Utilities Commission for continued investments in large-scale renewable energy.

 

EVs, net-zero buildings and more

The plan does not stop there, and also sets ambitious goals for reduction of energy use in buildings and decarbonization of transportation. In fact, the first goals are for in these two sectors, and call for a 10% reduction in energy use in commercial buildings and 200 electric vehicles in the city’s fleet by 2020.

This is followed by increasingly more ambitious goals for reduction in residential and commercial building energy use, as well as transportation. And while like many plans for transportation the focus is on electrification, it also includes the city’s Mobility Plan, which calls for 1/3 of the city’s workers to bike, walk or take public transit to work by 2030.

Much of this will be met by increasingly aggressive building codes, calling for net-zero on new buildings by 2030, and to target homes in need of efficiency upgrades. Along with this the city is focused on reaching carbon-free transportation in 2050, mostly through electrification but also “zero-carbon” fuels for freight trucking.

The net result of all of this is a planned 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, across all sectors.