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THE PLACES PAVING THE WAY TO 100 PERCENT RENEWABLE ENERGY

THE PLACES PAVING THE WAY TO 100 PERCENT RENEWABLE ENERGY

Burlington, Vermont has been running on renewable electricity since 2014

ShortlyShortly before Darren Springer interviewed for a job at the Burlington Electric Department (BED) in 2016, the city proudly proclaimed that it would become a “net zero energy city” by 2030. That meant no more gas or oil to heat residents’ homes and swapping out gas-powered cars for electric vehicles and more public transportation.

“THAT’S GOT TO BE ONE OF THE MOST AMBITIOUS GOALS ANYWHERE”

“I said, that’s got to be one of the most ambitious goals anywhere in the country,” Springer, who is now BED’s general manager, tells The Verge. “That was one of the things that drew me to this work at Burlington Electric.” Since then, he’s worked to get the city on track to meet that goal. And while the target might have been unheard of in 2016, it’s now just one early example of the splashy renewable energy aspirations that more and more governments seem to be dreaming up.

As of September 2020, 452 cities and 22 regions had made commitments to slash and offset their planet-heating carbon dioxide emissions, reaching net-zero CO2 pollution by the middle of the century. It’s all part of a race to stop the worst effects of climate change from becoming reality, which scientists say requires the entire world to nearly completely gut greenhouse gas emissions by that deadline.

President Joe Biden is setting the US on a path to run entirely on clean electricity by 2035. That’s not an easy target, considering renewables only make up about 20 percent of the country’s power mix today. Luckily, Biden, and other state and city leaders with similar aims, have roadmaps from communities like Burlington, Vermont that are already ahead.

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