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Solar news: December 14th, 2018

In this week’s Solar News Roundup, learn about Xcel Energy’s commitment to 100% carbon-free electricity, as well as hope for renewable energy tax credits in a federal infrastructure bill.

100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 for Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy, a large utility company servicing eight states, has committed to achieving 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050 across its entire service territory. The new plan calls for 80 percent cuts in carbon emissions by 2030, with the last 20 percent trickling in for the following two decades. This is the first 100 percent carbon-free commitment in the electric power industry.

“We’re accelerating our carbon-reduction goals because we’re encouraged by advances in technology, motivated by customers who are asking for it and committed to working with partners to make it happen,” said Xcel Energy’s CEO, Ben Fowke. Another probable force in pushing this commitment through is likely legislation changes in Colorado, one of Xcel’s largest service areas. Governor-Elect Jared Polis ran a campaign on moving the Centennial State to 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2040. This commitment by Xcel aligns the utility with forthcoming legislative changes, ideally helping both the utility and the government to avoid controversies around renewable mandates as they are put in place.

Xcel’s commitment has been praised by Governor-Elect Polis and several environmental advocacy groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club. Just as local governments have begun setting the standard for renewable energy investment and commitments, companies like Xcel will play a large part in our transition to sustainable energy infrastructure.

Is renewed federal support for renewables on the horizon?

Although the current federal administration has expressed open disdain for renewable energy and solar, movement in the legislative chambers may lead to renewed federal investment in renewables, according to a letter to President Trump from Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Schumer’s letter details several measures that he and other Democrats see as important to any infrastructure deal that Congress passes once they start their new session. Among those measures are permanent tax credits for renewable generation, government investment in energy storage capacity, and increased investments into the research, development, and deployment of clean energy technologies.

President Trump needs a supermajority, or 60 votes, in the Senate to pass this infrastructure bill, meaning he will need the support of several Democrats. Trump has recently signaled a new plan to compromise on his $1 trillion infrastructure program, and some ideas outlined by Schumer may be a part of those compromises. Democrats as a whole have been pushing for a “Green New Deal” stimulus package to help America’s transition to a renewable economy, but Schumer made no mention of the plan in his letter to the President. Climate change continues to be thrust into the center of many political arenas, and expect the policy battles that come with energy and infrastructure planning to revolve around the necessity to adopt renewables as quickly as possible.

For further reading, check out Senator Schumer’s op-ed on the subject.


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