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This Planet is a series of short video stories that draw on the best new videos, awesome graphics, and surprising facts about climate, energy and innovation.

The Great Energy Realignment is Unstoppable, State by State

This Planet Chronicle

The Great Energy Realignment is Unstoppable, State by State

Frank Bozzo

See more blog posts at This Planet Chronicle and This Planet Huffington Post

Even if the U.S. leaves the Paris climate agreement, even if coal mining gets subsidies up the wazoo by the Trump Administration, can the growth of renewable energy in America be stopped? No. Here’s why:

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Charts: SEIA/GTM Research, CNN Money

Charts: SEIA/GTM Research, CNN Money

 

The exuberant green energy market has been powering along for enough years now that this trend is becoming too clear to be denied: Renewable energy adds jobs even as costs come down. That’s why we just posted this new video, States Save Planet! On the This Planet Facebook page.

A detailed report recently released by the Union of Concerned Scientists has copious graphs and charts to prove the point. As the report summary says, “Wind farms in 41 states provide enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 20 million American households. In 2016 alone, the nation added enough solar electric panels to meet the needs of two million households. Investments in energy efficiency over the last quarter century have precluded the need for the equivalent of more than 300 additional large power plants.”

The study and many other articles and reports we reviewed, come back again and again to a key element, a hidden spark, charging up the boom in renewable energy: energy policies, state by state. And there’s a name for that: Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).

There couldn’t be a worse name – even we cant remember what RPS means or why there is a “portfolio” (which is itself a pretty musty word). So, here it is: a Renewable Portfolio Standard is a state law mandating that a certain amount of renewable energy be included in the state’s energy mix. At least 29 states have RPS’s. Most of these have programs to subsidize the installation of renewables (no, don’t get worked up about unfairness – fossil fuels have been and continue to be subsidized at much higher rates).

Inside Climate News, which closely tracks developments in the states, reels off the names of, and provides links to, the many states taking action to expand renewables: “At least eight states—California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York,  Pennsylvania and Vermont may dramatically boost existing clean power policies.

“Maryland – legislature overrode veto to have a quarter of the state's energy come from renewables by 2020…Others that ramped up renewable targets: Illinois, Michigan, Rhode Island, Oregon and  ...While anti-renewable bills are being killed or watered down in Wyoming, North Dakota, New Hampshire."

These efforts are taking place even in conservative states, despite “the Republican-led backlash against green energy under way in Washington”. Virginia, for example, is expanding its community solar ventures, while South Carolina and Florida are instituting tax breaks for solar users. But our favorite conservative state going greener is Kansas, which has had the largest increase in renewable energy generation of all states over the last four years, in the form of wind turbines. Why do we like Kansas?

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1.     It is the home of the lobbying outfit Americans for Prosperity and its patron, Koch Industries, an implacable foe of clean energy. The growth of renewables comes despite strenuous efforts by these favorite sons to destroy it.

1.     The song “Dust In the Wind” by the rock and roll band named Kansas.

3. One of This Planet’s first and funniest videos was about Kansas, in which we ripped imagery from a famous movie that was set in Kansas. Check it out.