A new standard in clean energy has been set. The benchmark: 100% renewable electricity for all utility customers — no extra charge. E.ON has done what many are still contemplating. The global utility provider is supplying millions of its residential customers solely with renewable electricity and without a surcharge.
Although these 3.3 million households reside in the UK, the message should be clear: 100% renewably sourced electricity is possible.
“Climate change is the defining issue of our era, and one that energy customers are increasingly concerned about,” said Michael Lewis, EON U.K.’s CEO. It’s a “change at a scale never seen before in Britain.”
Let’s hope news travels quickly across the pond and that North American utilities will soon follow suit. Carbon-dioxide emissions rose by 3.4% last year in the United States, the biggest increase in eight years. This is according to research firm Rhodium Group, which also noted the increase came despite major coal-consumption declines (the country retired 16 GW of coal-fired power capacity in 2018, and that trend continues this year).
Although transportation contributes greatly to emissions, so does energy use. Power demand is high in the U.S. (up 4% in 2018), which means utilities have a responsibility to push for clean-energy resources. And the demand for renewables is strong in the country.
So far, more than 130 American cities have committed to 100% renewables for their electric power needs within the next decade or two. What’s more is that one in five American’s now lives in a community committed to transitioning to 100% clean energy, according to the Sierra Club (learn more about the not-for-profit’s Ready for 100 Campaign here).
Fortunately, a few utilities in the U.S. have established strong renewable goals. MidAmerican Energy, for example, says it will become the first U.S. utility to provide customers with 100% renewable electricity in 2021. This assumes the Iowa utility’s 2-GW Wind XII project is built and operating on time.
“Wind XII will transform our 100% renewable energy vision from a bold dream into a reality,” said Adam Wright, MidAmerican’s president and CEO. “Wind XII is a clear demonstration of our commitment to and investment in the cleaner, more sustainable energy future our customers want, and our environment deserves. MidAmerica currently serves 1.6 million customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
At the end of 2018, not-for-profit utility Colorado’s Platte River Power Authority also committed to a goal of zero carbon emissions, with plans to do so by 2030. It did so just after Xcel Energy announced plans to reduce 80% of carbon emissions from its power plants by 2030 and 100% by 2050. The utility, which serves 3.6 million people in eight states, says by closing two coal-fired units and adding 1,100 MW of wind, solar, and battery storage by 2026, it will be more than halfway to its final goal.
Now if you want to make a difference as a utility customer, consider Arcadia Power, which has a purpose to transform energy bills to clean power bills. The company offers two plans, including one that’s completely free and will ensure 50% of your energy is sourced from renewables, such as wind energy. A premium option lets customers use 100% renewable energy for a small fee each month. Learn more here.