From the tech industry leading the renewable charge to polluting coal plants shutting down, 2013 was a good year for cleaning up our national energy grid and therefore cleaning the air we breathe.
Here are 9 reasons we can all believe in an energy revolution!
9. President Obama announces a directive for federal agencies to more than double their use of electricity produced by renewable resources, making up 20 percent of the government’s energy portfolio by 2020. President Obama wrote in his announcement that the federal government must lead by examples in its goal to combat climate change. The administration plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 17 percent over 2005 levels by 2020.
8. Apple revealed new progress in its goal to power its data centers with 100 percent renewable energy. The company released an environmental report disclosing its plans and principles for how it would meet the goal.
7. The Port of Coos Bay in Oregon announced in April that it would not build a new coal export terminal. The decision came after California-based Metro Ports let its exclusive negotiating contract with the Port expire. Metro Ports was the last of three investors to withdraw from the terminal expansion project. In February, Greenpeace released the report, “The Myth of Endless Chinese Coal Demand,” which challenges the economic viability of coal exports.
6. Duke shut down two of its 14 North Carolina coal-fired power plants in April — the 84-year-old Riverbend Steam Station and 87-year-old Buck Steam Station. For the past two years, Greenpeace has worked with grassroots allies to close Duke’s fleet of coal-fired power plants including We Love Mountain Island Lake, a community group of concerned parents and children who live adjacent to the Riverbend Coal Plant.
5. Google announced it is working with Duke to develop renewable sources for its Lenoir, North Carolina data center that will soon double in size. Google, along with fellow Internet giants Facebook and Apple, has been pushing Duke Energy to offer more clean energy for their data centers in the state. In response to Google’s pressure, Duke filed a renewables plan with the North Carolina Utilities Commission that would give customers like Google a new class of electricity service connected to renewable energy rather than simply buying renewable energy credits.
4. During its annual shareholders’ meeting on May 2nd, Duke announced it was scrapping plans to build two new nuclear reactors at its Harris nuclear plant in North Carolina. Duke Energy Nuclear president Dhiaa Jamil noted that, even with the retirements of its old coal-fired power plants, Duke can supply enough energy to meet demand in the Carolinas without additional nuclear generation at the Harris plant for at least another 15 years. The day before the shareholder’s meeting, Greenpeace and ally NC WARN ran an open letter and full page ad in the Charlotte Observer that provoked a response from then CEO Jim Rogers that generated additional media interest, including from Bloomberg Businessweek.
3. The Bureau of Land Management held a coal lease sale in Wyoming and no one showed up! The lease sale for 148 million tons of publicly owned, Powder River Basin coal was first sought in 2006 by Cloud Peak Energy, one of the largest U.S. coal producers. The company issued a statement citing regulatory and political uncertainty toward coal as reasons for its decision to not bid, in another sign of the shrinking US coal industry.
2. Microsoft announced in November that it will use 100 percent wind to power its Texas data center from a soon-to-be-built Texas wind farm. Greenpeace’s Unfriend Coal team has focused pressure on Microsoft since 2011 with more than 250,000 messages to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, a banner hang, and pop-up visits at Microsoft stores from the company’s former mascot “Clippy.”
1. The renewable energy industry literally produced more new domestic energy this year than coal, oil and nuclear combined, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in its ‘Energy Infrastructure Update’ from September. Solar energy was the bigger frontrunner producing more megawatts of energy than coal in 2013.