States Take the Lead on Renewables in 2021

While federal leaders continue deliberations on how to build a cleaner, healthier future, states are making strides to advance renewable energy, according to a new roundup of state legislative highlights from Environment America.

“The United States of Clean Energy, Summer 2021” report summarizes clean energy progress and commitments made in spring and summer state legislative sessions across the country. The resource includes ambitious renewable energy and energy storage targets, investments in wind and solar, and strengthened energy efficiency standards.

While there have been some instances of backsliding in these vital areas, the roundup found that the overall trajectory for clean energy is moving steadily in the right direction.

“Whenever I’m feeling pessimistic about the slow pace of change in the halls of our federal government, I look to the states,” says Emma Searson, Environment America’s 100% renewable campaign director. “In state capitals around the country, we’re seeing not just the steady march of progress, but a real race to the top when it comes to clean and renewable energy. State leaders are hearing Americans’ calls for energy that doesn’t pollute, and they are answering with action.”

In July, Oregon became the eighth state to enact a commitment to 100% clean power and now ties with New York for the fastest timeline to achieve that goal statewide.

More incremental targets also continued to pick up steam. Massachusetts upped its renewable electricity requirements in March. Both Connecticut and Maine set new goals for growing energy storage, bringing the total of states with energy storage targets up to nine.

Since the start of 2021, states have also acted to directly support the adoption of wind, solar and energy efficiency technologies to clean up their power grids. California, for example, is investing millions of dollars to boost rooftop solar and offshore wind. Maine, Massachusetts and New Jersey are accelerating their offshore wind development. Six states passed new energy efficiency measures since January, including programs that expand access to energy efficiency upgrades and strengthened efficiency standards for common household appliances.

“What happens in the states has a real, meaningful impact on our lives and our environment,” continues Searson. “Each new commitment and investment leads us one step closer to the cleaner, healthier future we want and need. And what happens in the states doesn’t just stay in the states – state leadership helps clear the path for nationwide action.”

Read the full report here.

Image: “Installing solar panels” by OregonDOT is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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