In September, not a single new fossil fueled power plant was brought online in the United States. No coal, no natural gas. No new carbon-spewers. Instead, we saw five brand new wind farms bring 300 megawatts of capacity online, and 18 new solar installations that clocked in at 133 MW. #CleanSeptember.
That’s what every month should look like. That’s a snapshot of genuine progress towards a desirable energy future. Just this week, a trio of scientists made a call for a moratorium on fossil fueled power; they believe that we can meet all new power demand with renewable energy without dislodging the economy. This is the trajectory that they’re imagining.
Stephen Lacey points out that this is part of a year-long trend: “the U.S. has seen 4,055 MW of wind, 936 MW of solar, 340 MW of biomass, 123 MW of geothermal, 9 MW of hydro, and 3 MW of waste heat projects come online since January. This represents a 29 percent increase over the same period in 2011.”
Of course, that momentum is now destined to evaporate; the wind power production tax credit (PTC) that has mobilized American wind is set to expire. Our politicians are inclined to let it. I’ll remind you that oil, coal, and gas companies will still be enjoying a healthy helping of government subsidies after federal support for wind dies out.
We’re set to prop up fossil fuels while pulling the rug out from under wind. The consequences of a warming world are now deep and visceral, and our elected leadership shrugs. David Attenborough is in the news for saying U.S. polls duck climate issues because of the cost. He’s not wrong.
But those costs will come down, as we’ve seen in Italy, Germany, and, slowly but surely, here in the U.S.
We’re going to need many more clean Septembers to successfully instigate the transition to a renewable-powered economy. We’r’e going to need more vision from the boys in charge; but before that, more organizing, more protesting. More noise. More bringing the fight to the fossil fueled status quo. Because September’s just a start; maybe in October, the coal plants actually go offline.