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The Other 2020 Elections: Communities Put Clean, Renewable Energy On The Ballot

Here’s a brief overview of several ballot measures illustrating how cities are moving at a rapid pace creating new funding to support local clean energy, and that clean energy has a much broader appeal than either political party.

Originally published at ILSR.org 

In the 2020 election, several communities had clean energy on the ballot as well as candidates for President of the United States, Congress, and state and local races. Here’s a brief overview of several ballot measures illustrating how cities are moving at a rapid pace creating new funding to support local clean energy, and that clean energy has a much broader appeal than either political party.


Denver, Colorado — Measure 2A 👍

A 0.25% sales tax increase will create a $40 million per year local climate fund to support local clean energy, supported by 63 percent of voters. The city joins Portland, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.Minneapolis, Minn.; Athens, Ohio; and Boulder, Colo.


Albany, California — Measure DD 👍

A 2.5 percentage point increase in the utility users tax, as well as tax on water service, will generate $675,000 per year for a range of services including reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It passed with 59 percent supporting.


Berkeley, California — Measure HH 👎

The measure would have raised the electricity tax from 7.5 to 10 percent and the gas users tax by 2.5 percentage points, to provide $2.4 million per year for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The measure failed with just under 48% support.


Boulder, Colorado — Measure 2C ❓

Voters in Boulder opted to pause the decade-long battle with Xcel Energy over control of the electricity grid. The measure, passed with 53% support, creates a new franchise agreement with the monopoly utility in exchange for promises to provide cleaner electricity. ILSR has long covered this debate, with a favorable view toward Boulder’s aim for local ownership and leverage it has provided in pushing the utility toward cleaner energy in Colorado.


Columbus, Ohio — Issue 1 👍

The referendum to form a community choice agency passed with 76% support, taking control of electricity purchases from the incumbent utility with an aim of 100% renewable electricity by 2023.


East Brunswick, New Jersey – Public Question 👍

Over 70% of voters opted for their community to take over the electricity purchasing business to facilitate reaching their 100% renewable electricity goal. Organizers with Food and Water Watch are supporting similar community choice energy efforts in 15 more New Jersey communities.


For more background on how community choice energy is allowing cities to rapidly pursue renewable energy, see ILSR’s 2020 report: Community Choice Energy


Ballot measure don’t just pass good clean energy policy. They also illustrate the relative popularity of clean energy. Nevada’s Question 6 state measure is a perfect illustration. Despite the slimmest of margins between presidential candidates, the state’s Question 6 supporting 50% renewable electricity by 2030 passed with 57 percent support.

Here’s hoping we see more clean energy on the local ballot in the coming years!


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Written By

John directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (energyselfreliantstates.org), and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at jfarrell@ilsr.org.

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