It’s official: Chicago will go 100% renewable

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The 100% renewable energy movement has been gaining a lot of steam in the past few months. Following on Cincinnati becoming the 100th U.S. city to set a 100% renewable energy mandate in December, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) dropped a bombshell in February with his Resilient Chicago plan. This plan calls for a number of actions to reduce emissions, including transitioning to 100% renewable energy in buildings community-wide by 2035.

Last night the Chicago City Council passed a resolution affirming this mandate, along with another component of Resilient Chicago; complete electrification of the Chicago Transit Authority’s bus fleet by 2040. It also directs the mayor’s office Sustainability Team, along with the Ready for 100 Chicago Collective and other stakeholders to develop a community-wide transit plan by December 2020 to achieve the switch to renewables in the following 15 years.

This makes Chicago, with 2.7 million residents, the largest city to pass a 100% renewable energy commitment. It may not be so for long, given that Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti has his sights set on moving his city to 100% renewable energy.

There has been no formal commitment yet by Los Angeles, which at 4 million residents is the nation’s second-largest city. However this is something of a technicality; as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is subject to California’s mandate to fully decarbonize electricity by 2045.

 

Across the nation

While U.S. Congressional politics suggest that Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s (D) Green New Deal is going nowhere fast as policy on the federal level, this has not stopped cities and states from committing to fully decarbonize their electricity systems. Today Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló (D) is expected to sign legislation putting the island on a path to 100% renewable electricity by 2050, and when he does so Puerto Rico will join Hawaii, California, Washington D.C. and New Mexico in making a commitment to fully decarbonize the power sector by 2050 or sooner.

These states, D.C. and Puerto Rico alone represent 47 million people. When you add in Chicago and 117 other cities across the nation which have set 100% renewable energy commitments, this easily brings the total to around 60 million, or 17% of the U.S. population. The rapid speed at which this is taking off can be seen in the following chart: