10 of the Most Noteworthy Local Government Renewables Deals of 2020
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn in 2020, US local governments bought more renewable energy in 2020 than any year before, according to the Local Government Renewables Action Tracker. Nearly 100 cities and counties across 33 states completed 143 deals, adding 3,683 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity. This is a 23% increase from 2019 and represents enough energy to power 811,000 households annually.
Cities across the United States inked deals of all types and sizes in 2020. Here are 10 deals the Renewables Accelerator identified as particularly noteworthy given their unique features and the ways that local governments purchased renewable energy in 2020:
Arlington County, Virginia
Arlington County partnered with Dominion Energy to purchase 38 MW of renewable energy to power County government operations through a virtual power purchase agreement (PPA). This is the first and currently only off-site virtual PPA transaction by a local government in the United States. Arlington’s share of the energy will come from a new 120 MW solar farm, from which Amazon purchased the remainder of the energy output. Learn more in Arlington County’s city story.
Charlotte, North Carolina
The City of Charlotte partnered with Duke Energy on a green tariff program to build and purchase electricity from a new, local 35 MW solar project. This deal made Charlotte the largest US city to buy clean energy using a green tariff. The clean energy the City receives from the deal will help it offset 25% of carbon emissions from City-owned buildings over the next 25 years. Learn more in Charlotte’s city story.
The City and County of Denver is building 4.6 MW of community solar gardens, launching the first phase of an initiative to host up to 15 MW of community solar gardens on municipal sites in Denver by 2025. The deal involves an equity-focused component that allocates a portion of the energy generated to low- and moderate-income households, and a workforce component that provides paid solar installation training to expand Denver’s solar workforce. Learn more in Denver’s city story.
Tempe, Gilbert, and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Arizona
The City of Tempe, Town of Gilbert, and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community each joined Salt River Project’s green tariff program to collectively receive a portion (over 4 MW) of the clean energy generated by 300 MW of new local solar facilities. This was an aggregated deal that involved a total of 21 commercial, municipal, and school district energy buyers that, together, purchased a total of 100 MW of renewable energy. Learn more in this Salt River Project press release (city story coming soon).
The City of Houston purchased an estimated 492 MW of solar energy from Reliant Energy through a retail transaction involving an off-site physical PPA. This is the largest solar deal and largest renewable energy deal ever completed by a US local government. This deal enables Houston to power 100 percent of its municipal operations with renewable energy—a goal the City has managed to reach five years earlier than expected. Learn more in Houston’s city story.
Knox County, Maine
Knox County finalized a deal to install 5 MW of on-site solar next to the Knox County Regional Airport. The County used federal funds received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to finance the solar project. The solar farm will fully power the airport and generate enough additional revenue to ultimately make the airport financially independent from taxpayers. Learn more in this news article (city story coming soon).
Los Angeles, California
The City of Los Angeles purchased 331 MW of wind energy from a New Mexico wind farm through an off-site physical PPA executed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. This is the largest wind deal ever completed by a US local government. The deal provides enough clean energy to power 222,300 homes and moves the City closer to achieving its goal to reach 55% renewable energy by 2025 and 100% by 2045. Learn more in this Los Angeles press release (city story coming soon).
The City of Madison installed 268 kilowatts (kW) of on-site solar last year through a 28-kW project completed in July and a 240-kW project completed in October. These installations allowed the City to achieve its goal to install one megawatt (MW) of on-site solar on City facilities by 2020, which it set in 2014. Madison did so by combining the City’s solar installation efforts with a unique long-term job training and employment program that was responsible for 80 percent of the installations that helped the City reach its 1 MW goal. Learn more in Madison’s city story.
In an aggregated deal with Vanderbilt University, the City of Nashville joined the Tennessee Valley Authority’s green tariff program to build and buy solar from a 125 MW local solar project. This deal moves the City one-third of the way toward its target to power 35% of its operations with renewable energy by 2025. This is one of the largest municipal renewable energy deals ever completed in the Southeast United States. Learn more in this Nashville press release (city story coming soon).
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority & Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) finalized a deal to lease space on WMATA properties in the District of Columbia area to partners SunPower and Goldman Sachs Renewable Power for the installation of 12.8 MW of community solar on carports and canopies over surface lots and above parking garages at rail stations. Goldman Sachs Renewable Power will own the energy generated and provide annual payments to WMATA, providing a long-term revenue stream to support the transit agency’s operations. Learn more in this Washington press release (city story coming soon).
Check out the Local Government Renewables Action Tracker to learn more about US local government renewable energy efforts.