Washington D.C Finally Embraces Transitioning to All Renewable by 2032
Washington DC city council created history by unanimously passing Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 to increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 100% from 50% previously by 2032. It is the most ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard, recorded so far among the states.
It was a red letter day for Washington DC when it delivered the most demanding good news of current times. It’s one of the phenomenal instances that cities and states took the initiative even after the US skipped international talk for controlling climate change.
As per the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018, the bill establishes the standard for solar energy post-2032 and standards that electric suppliers should meet regarding purchasing their energy with long-term agreements with renewable generators. The restrictions on energy efficiency measures removed and use of the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund further expanded.
There will be a program for an energy performance standard for buildings at the Energy and Environment Department. The bill also authorizes the Mayor of the city to commit active participation of District in regional programs with the objective of limiting the emission of greenhouse gases and requires Motor Vehicles Department to issue regulations adding the vehicle excise tax to fuel efficiency.
Mary Cheh, Democratic Councilmember, told WAMU 88.5 that this bill is historic and the District of Columbia will be at the national forefront for its efforts for reducing GHG emissions and achieving 100% renewable electricity. The original bill introduced by Cheh would have reduced emission of carbon by 50%. The goal weakened as utility companies like Pepco, and Washington Gas objected to some measures but later backed the bill. However, according to activists, those companies supported the current bill to avoid a carbon tax.
Current US President Donald Trump is disreputable for denying climate change and promoting fossil fuels. The bill cheered by campaigners and supporters certainly disobey DC’s resident of the highest reputation.
It is not merely symbolic. According to the Huffington Post, all existing federal DC buildings including White House need to follow the stricter standards for energy efficiency drafted by task force empowered under the new law. The bill’s ambitious transportation goal include all public transportation, private vehicle fleets and ride-share programs like Lyft and Uber, to be free of carbon by 2045. It is similar to the newly adopted auto emissions target of California.
Camila Thorndike, DC campaign director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund (CCAN Action Fund) stated in the Huffington Post that the bill would boost the advocates of the whole nation. Finally, they got some good news, and they did it. Thunderhead of political pressure, they created for ambitious and comprehensive climate policy and left no choice for others to do nothing.
Democratic Councilmember Charles Allen told WAMU 88.5 as the people at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue do not care that much, their cities and states shouldered the responsibility to act.
The bill would help the city reducing total GHG emissions to 42% by 2032. This target is close to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendation for limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. To cap warming at 1.5C GHG emissions should fall to 45% of 2010 levels by 2030 as per the report.
Many cities have made commitments to discard fossil-fueled electricity. Recently, California set its new renewable portfolio standard to transition away from fossil fuels by 2045. District of Columbia announced plans to join with nine states― Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, and Virginia next year. The renewable portfolio standards of Maryland and Virginia is much less ambitious, i.e., 25% and 15% renewable by 2020 and 2025 respectively.
According to the Sierra Club, 90 cities and towns in the whole nation have taken a pledge to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. There are many attempting to speed up the transition to renewable by 2040 with legislation. However, D.C. enshrined its commitment to 100% renewable electricity as a legal mandate due to its unique quasi-state status.