Motivational gurus say one way to make a personal goal stick is to make it public. Tell someone so you are driven to make it happen.
That is happening with state carbon-free energy goals. By year-end 2021, 31 states and the District of Columbia had renewable portfolio standards (RPS) or clean energy standards (CES). Delaware, Oregon, North Carolina, and Illinois updated RPS or CES policies in 2021. Nebraska adopted its first clean energy goal in December. A trend.
Those policies mean power companies must supply certain shares of their electricity from designated renewable or carbon-free eligible technologies. What is good about that – there is no restriction about which technologies – wind, solar, hydro, or nuclear – must be used. There’s latitude for power providers to make the right choices for their states.
Good. Energy people decide the details, not policymakers. Energy experts make energy decisions. Companies with real expertise can be called on as part of teams to implement carbon-free energy.
State policies are one thing. Getting there is different for every state.
Here’s an example: Indiana.
“When it comes to the issue of climate change, Indiana finds itself caught, in a sense, between two realities. Government leaders are touting advancements in clean air and water initiatives, and environmental experts say that improvements in solar and wind technology are shrinking the state’s carbon footprint. But environmental advocates say there is much work still to be done.” That is from the Terre Haute Tribune Star.
Indiana is an energy-intensive place, which can make for a challenging clean energy road. Indiana is a leading steelmaker, which takes lots of power. Its industrial sector is the largest end-use energy consumer – 47% of the energy consumption. The Whiting refinery, at 435,000 barrels per day, is the largest inland oil refinery in the U.S.
As for renewables, measured in 2020, wind power is 7% of Indiana’s utility-scale electricity net generation in 2020; solar, biomass, and hydropower together are less than 2%. Room to grow.
Indiana has big changes to make. But how?
- How to account for sunk costs of utilities after the state public service commission approved those facilities?
- How to spur change – state mandates, incentives?
- Who is part of energy decision-making?
- How do energy experts come in from other states to help?
Collaboration versus command is the best path. Policymakers, energy experts, the industrial community, and consumers create a critical mass of knowledge and policy-power. Don’t turn down expertise from outside state lines or that has not been tapped before. Changes in the energy world require new players for success.
Already there are announcements:
- AES Indiana, formerly Indianapolis Power and Light, will exit coal by 2025. This accelerates AES’s schedule. (Source)
- Eric Holcomb signed a bill directing the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission to make rules when it comes to the construction, purchase, or lease of small modular nuclear reactors. (Source)
- Indiana Michigan Power has issued a request for proposals for 500MW of solar. Its new integrated resource plan calls for the addition of more than 2GW of renewables by 2028. (Above image) (Source)
Those are big, and just a few of the headlines.
Indiana made goals public and is working to reach them. In the end, it can show others how to team up with companies and experts who know how to manage the energy transition.
Feature image: A Southeast Kansas wind farm.
Other states’ recent actions – the Energy Information Agency reports:
- Delaware increased its overall RPS target in February 2021 to a 40% renewable generation share of electricity sales by 2035, up from the previous target of 28% by 2030.
- In July 2021, the Oregon legislature increased the state CES to a 100% clean energy share of sales by 2040. Retail electricity providers must reduce CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 80% by 2030 and by 90% by 2035, before reaching the carbon-free target of 100% in 2040.
- In September 2021, Illinois increased its overall RPS target to 50% of electricity sales from renewables by 2040, replacing the earlier target of 25% by 2026.
- In December 2021, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), which oversees electricity generation in the state, approved a goal to achieve 100% carbon-free generation in 2050. Nebraska generated 41% of its total annual electricity from carbon-free sources in 2020, which it considers the starting point for the new 100% clean energy standard policy.