Two-thirds of voters in Arizona fell prey to one of the most vicious disinformation campaigns in the annals of US politics last Tuesday. Bombarded by more than $25 million worth of lies bought and paid for by local utility company Arizona Public Service, they turned thumbs down on a proposal that would have required the state to obtain 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources — not including nuclear — by 2030.
Arizona’s loss is several other states’ gain, however. Incoming governors in Connecticut, Maine, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon have all pledged to beef up their state’s renewable energy goals, according to a report by PV Magazine.
100% Goal In 5 States
Governors in 5 states included plans for 100% renewable energy in their campaign platforms.
Colorado: On his campaign website, Governor-elect Jared Polis said, “I’m running on a plan to bring Colorado to 100% renewable energy by 2040; we can’t afford to wait.” The state’s current renewable portfolio standard is 30% by 2020.
Connecticut: Governor-elect Ned Lamont said on his campaign website “I support strengthening the state’s RPS to at least 35 percent Class I renewable energy sources by 2025; at least 50 percent by 2030; at least 80 percent by 2040; and 100 percent by 2050.” The state’s current RPS is 40% by 2030.
Illinois: Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker put this statement on his campaign website “As governor, I will bring all stakeholders to the table to put Illinois on a path toward 100% clean, renewable energy and make sure that every community justly benefits during this transition.” The state’s current RPS is 25% by 2026.
Nevada: Governor-elect Steve Sisolak said in a campaign video, “I am fully supportive of the ballot proposal to increase our renewable energy to 50% by 2030. In fact, as governor, I’d like to get us on the road to 100%. Clean energy creates jobs. We must prepare our kids for those jobs by investing in STEM education.” The state’s current RPS is 25% by 2025. That ballot initiative was approved by voters in Nevada but must be approved again in 2020 before it becomes fully effective.
Maine: Governor-elect Janet Mills said publicly during her campaign, “I believe that by 2050 we can transition to a healthy and prosperous economy relying virtually entirely on renewable energy. That’s my goal. Solar, onshore wind, offshore wind and eventually good battery storage as well as energy efficiency will get us there.” The state’s current RPS is 40% by 2027.
Incoming governors in New Mexico and Oregon are also in favor of ramping up renewable energy goals, though not quite to the 100% level.
New Mexico: Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham said on her campaign website, “I will work to pass legislation that puts us on a path to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 80% by 2040. We will further increase demand by joining interstate energy markets and approving expanded transmission infrastructure so New Mexico can export energy to high-demand markets in Arizona and California.” The state’s current RPS is 20% by 2020.
Oregon: Governor Kate Brown has endorsed a goal of 100% “clean energy” by 2050, as reported by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and verified by campaign spokesperson Christian Gaston. The state’s current RPS is 50% by 2040.
What Is Clean Energy?
A lot of people throw around the words “clean energy” without defining what they mean precisely. In some circles, clean energy is meant to include natural gas and/or nuclear. The natural gas industry like to say its products are “clean” because they are not as dirty as coal. Nuclear energy proponents say their generating stations are clean because they release no carbon emissions. They do generate plenty of nasty waste products, however.
A renewable energy proposal in Arizona was soundly defeated by voters while those in Washington state also turned thumbs down on a proposed carbon tax. Both campaigns involved the spending of enormous dollars to confuse and bamboozle voters by crooked politicians and fossil fuel companies.
In the end, political rhetoric will count for little. If renewable energy is to come, it will arrive because it is cheaper than electricity from other sources, a trend that is becoming evident in market after market in the US and around the world. The fossil fuel industry is like a wounded dinosaur crashing slowly to the ground, thrashing and groaning in rage at its imminent demise. But that demise is coming just as surely as the sun shines and the winds blow. It is only a matter of time.