The Top 10 Clean Energy Stories to Be Thankful for in 2013
#1) WIND SAVES CUSTOMERS MONEY IN OKLAHOMA
Wind prices have fallen so much this year that utilities are now investing in it because wind power saves consumers money. Earlier this year, as a result of a settlement with the Sierra Club, American Electric Power announced it would add enough wind energy to power 200,000 homes in Oklahoma. AEP decided to increase its investment after seeing how wind "would provide substantial savings to our customers."
#2) COLORADO DOUBLES DOWN ON CLEAN ENERGY
This year, Colorado took a major step toward elevating clean energy in the Rocky Mountains, when Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law new legislation that will double the state's renewable energy standard. That means 20 percent of the state's energy will come from clean sources.
#3) A SOLAR VICTORY IN MINNESOTA
Minnesota’s state legislature finally passed comprehensive clean energy legislation that will commit the state to increase its solar electricity from 13 megawatts to 450 megawatts by 2020, an increase of more than 1,200 percent. In addition, the legislation will provide new solar incentives to make solar power easier and more accessible to Minnesotans -- thanks to the hard work of grassroots activists. This past spring, more than 62 groups held a Day of Action at the Minnesota statehouse to urge elected officials to expand renewable energy in the state. More than 700 people turned out to the rally, including Governor Mark Dayton, the Service Employees International Union, and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.
#4) FACEBOOK "LIKES" WIND ENERGY IN IOWA
Across the Midwest, 2013 was a banner year for wind energy. In May, Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy announced a $1.9 billion investment in Iowa's wind industry, representing the largest investment of any kind in state history. Facebook announced this year that it would be building a new multi-million dollar data center in Iowa, largely due to the amount of power that the state generates from clean sources compared with neighboring states. Iowa currently gets more than 25 percent of its energy from wind.
#5) NEBRASKA GETS IN THE GAME ON WIND
According to an assessment from the National Renewable Energy laboratory, Nebraska wind could supply the state's current electricity needs 120 times over. Yet despite enormous potential for wind energy, Nebraska was falling behind neighbors like Iowa in wind energy capacity. In 2013, activists from across the state, along with groups including the Sierra Club, pressured key decision makers, including Governor Dave Heineman, to get Nebraska in the game on wind energy. The efforts paid off in full when Governor Heineman signed legislation this year that will expand the wind industry in the state. Nebraska is projected to triple its amount of wind energy in just two years.
#6) MOVING FROM COAL TO SOLAR POWER IN NEVADA
For decades, the Moapa Band of Paiutes have suffered from the devastating consequences of one of Nevada's dirtiest coal plants, the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant, which is next to their tribal land. While activists in Nevada were working with the Moapa to retire the polluting plant, Los Angeles leaders were charging ahead to move Los Angeles completely off coal power and expand clean, renewable energy to fill the void. In December 2012, Moapa leaders joined Mayor Villaraigosa for the signing of a historic plan to purchase 250 megawatts from a planned solar development on the Moapa reservation -- enough electricity to power 105,000 homes. Six months later, the Nevada state legislature passed landmark legislation that will commit to retiring the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant, end the state's importing of coal power from Arizona, and expand local clean energy development.
#7) 150,000 SOLAR ROOFTOPS IN CALIFORNIA
California is known for many things, but perhaps none more than the sunshine that beams down on rooftops in the Golden State throughout the year. The state's abundant sunshine has been a boon for local, clean energy like rooftop solar. In June, California's growing solar industry reached a major milestone when it was announced the state had passed 150,000 homes and businesses with rooftop solar installations.
#8) STRANGE BEDFELLOWS UNITE IN GEORGIA FOR SOLAR POWER
Normally, the Tea Party and environmental groups like the Sierra Club wouldn't see eye-to-eye on a range of topics. However, this year, the two groups teamed up to form the Green Tea Coalition to advocate for expanding solar power in the Peach State. The partnership proved fruitful when this summer the Georgia Public Service Commission approved local utility Georgia Power's proposal to retire 20 percent of its coal plants and add a major new program to bring 525 megawatts of solar power to Georgia by 2016.
#9) AN EMPIRE STATE OF MIND
In October, New York State took a big step toward clean energy when the Long Island Power Authority voted to invest in 100 megawatts of new solar power on Long Island -- enough to power over 20,000 homes. Just weeks later, the utility announced new plans to move forward with an additional 280 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power 80,000 homes. This represents the single largest investment in renewable energy in Long Island history!
#10) MAKING OFFSHORE WIND A REALITY IN MARYLAND
For over three years, activists in Maryland have fought to push their elected leaders to harness the state's most abundant natural resource: offshore wind. Local activists made hundreds of phone calls, knocked on hundreds of doors, submitted letters to local newspapers, rallied on the steps of the Maryland State Capitol, conducted town hall meetings, and engaged Maryland voters to support offshore wind in the state. Finally, on March 12, after years of organizing, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 reached final passage in the House of Delegates, securing the future for an offshore wind industry in Maryland that will provide clean energy for the state.