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How North American States Are Pushing Clean Energy Forward


Written by qualified solar engineer Carlos. Last updated:

At the beginning of the year, within a span of a few months, a number of states including California, Washington, New Mexico, and Puerto Rico passed a law for switching entirely to clean energy by 2045 or 2050. This is a remarkable milestone in the country’s climate conservation landscape, especially considering the fact that there is no federal legislation in place that is even remotely ambitious.

The latest state to carry forward this trend was Washington, with Gov. Inslee signing the law in spring last year. This has brought attention to the US Climate Alliance, which is comprised of governors of a number of states planning a transition towards a 100% clean energy future. This includes governors from Wisconsin, Nevada, Maine, and Illinois — along with the previously mentioned states.

How It All Started

An instrumental player in initiating the shift has been Environment America and its 100% Renewable campaign. At the same time, local campaigns that spring up every now and then like are aiding to this drive.

2019 was described by the Union of Concerned Scientists as the ‘banner year for state clean energy’. However, the first such legislation was passed by Hawaii 4 years before. Additionally, it has not just states that resolve to go 100% green but also cities. Six cities – Aspen, Burlington, Georgetown, Greensburg, Rock Port, and Kodiak Island have already hit their 100% targets.

Although on the surface it looks like a political movement, considering the fact that all the governors are Democrats, the shift is actually more of a bipartisan effort. This is clear from the report from Yale University’s study that points to the fact that these laws received strong support from both sides among Americans, with 95% Democrats and 71% Republicans being welcome to this change.

Who and What

What started with just one state and one city has come a long way. As of 2020, a significant number of states are aiming at a 100% clean energy future. The following is a map depicting the states passing policies setting clean energy targets, followed by a state-wide description of mandates/goals.

map showing the main type of energy sources in USA


Passed a legislation for a mandate toward 100% clean energy by 2045.


Executive Order for a goal toward 100% clean energy by 2040.


Legislation for mandate toward 100% renewable energy by 2032.


Legislation for mandate toward 100% renewable energy by 2045.


Legislation for a mandate toward 100% clean energy by 2050.


Legislation for a goal toward 100% clean energy by 2050.

New Jersey

Executive Order for a goal toward 100% clean energy by 2050.

New Mexico

Legislation for a mandate toward 100% clean energy by 2045.

New York

Legislation for a mandate toward 100% clean energy by 2040.

Puerto Rico

Legislation for a mandate toward 100% clean energy by 2050.


Executive Order for a goal toward 100% clean energy by 2050.


Legislation for a mandate toward 100% clean energy by 2045.


Executive Order for a goal toward 100% clean energy by 2050.

Most states have a gradual target system. Besides the above-mentioned 100% targeting states, Vermont and Oregon have also set clean energy targets of 75% and 50% by 2032 and 2040. Four years later, they are considering circling the 100% number along with a few other states.

The Beginning of Impact

The 15+ states that have set some sort of a clean energy goal make up 28% of the entire U.S. population. What started with municipalities has now reached a respectable level that commands attention from all over the globe. There is little doubt that this percentage of the population, under a clean energy policy, will keep inching toward 100% in the coming years.

On the same lines, American utility companies are also pledging a gradual shift to 100% clean energy generation. In the last 6 years, 15 utilities have set a target to go either net-zero or 100% green, with most of the pledges coming in the past two to three years. As a result of Environment America’s campaigning, a number of colleges have also pledged to go 100% renewable, including some big names such as Cornell University and Colorado State University.

The renewable push is clearly visible in numbers. In 2015, the total renewable energy PPAs signed accounted for only 0.6 gigawatts. The number rose to 9.1 GW in 2018, and 2019 saw a staggering 5.9 GW of new contracts (source: Deloitte 100 Percent Renewable Transition Survey). However, aside from the public sentiment toward climate change and renewables, a major driving factor has also been the plunge in the prices of renewable energy equipment. For example, a drop of 70% in the prices of solar power equipment has occurred in the last decade.


  1. States March toward 100% Clean Energy–Who’s Next? – Union of Concerned Scientists
  2. Progress Toward 100% Clean Energy – UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation
  3. 100% Renewable – Environment America

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