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Nevada, Washington State Declare 100% Clean Energy Targets

Nevada and Washington State have been the latest in a string of U.S. jurisdictions to adopt rapid steps to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) signed a bill Monday that calls for the state to hit targets of 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% carbon-free power by 2050, Bloomberg reports [1]. In Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee (D) is expected to sign a House bill that eliminates all coal-fired electricity generation by 2025 and calls for 100% clean and renewable electricity by 2045, according to [2] Seattle TV station KIRO 7.

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“On this Earth Day, I couldn’t be more proud of the Legislature’s action to pass the country’s most forward-looking clean energy bill,” said Inslee, who has made climate action a centrepiece [4] of his run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. “There are a number of other meaningful climate bills moving forward this legislative session, but more than any other, this bill will fundamentally transform Washington’s energy future and transition us to 100% clean energy.”

The duelling news reports simultaneously identify Nevada and Washington as the fourth U.S. state to set 100% RE targets after California, Hawaii, and New Mexico. “Other states considering legislation that would rid their grids of carbon include New York, Washington, Illinois, and Massachusetts,” Bloomberg notes. “The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico also moved this month to get its electricity from renewable sources by 2050, and more than 100 cities and towns have made a similar pledge, including Chicago, according to the Sierra Club.”

In an analysis on Medium, Environmental Entrepreneurs Executive Director Bob Keefe notes a happy anomaly in Nevada—that the 100% RE bill passed unanimously in both the state House and Senate.

“Especially in this partisan age, passage of any legislation with total agreement from every Republican and Democrat is both remarkable and refreshing,” Keefe writes [5]. “What makes renewable energy so unanimously appealing in Nevada is that residents and lawmakers have learned that more clean energy means more jobs.”

And on Vox, climate specialist David Roberts says the Washington State bill will bring “groundbreaking changes” to the way the electricity system is organized. “It is not just a clean energy bill,” he writes. “It also contains a raft of thoughtful, in some cases genuinely groundbreaking, structural changes to the way the state’s utilities do business.”

Significantly, he writes, the Washington State bill provides for Energy Transformation Projects (ETPs) “that provide energy-related goods and services other than electricity generation and result in a reduction of fossil fuel consumption and a reduction of GHG emissions, while providing benefits to the customers of a utility.” Those projects could include electric vehicle infrastructure, building energy efficiency, or renewable natural gas produced from landfill or agricultural waste.

“These are things utilities can do to reduce their customers’ consumption of fossil fuels, but they haven’t traditionally had any way to get paid for them, so they lacked incentive,” Roberts explains. “Now, if they partially decarbonize and are finding the last 20% difficult or expensive, they can meet their obligations with ETPs. It’s a clever way to incentivize such projects.”