SAN FRANCISCO – President Joe Biden’s ambitious plan for the U.S. to produce almost 50 percent of its electricity from solar by 2050 is achievable and vital to stave off the worst impacts of the climate crisis, said EWG President and Co-Founder Ken Cook.
“Thinking big when it comes to reimagining how the country produces and distributes electricity is exactly what is needed, as we are watching in real-time the impacts the climate crisis is having on virtually every corner of the world,” said Cook. “The Biden administration’s proposal is an ambitious, forward-looking plan that will fundamentally alter the power supply across the country forever, that will lower the cost of electricity for individuals and businesses while dramatically reducing pollution from fossil fuels.”
The Department of Energy on Wednesday announced its plan to have 45 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S. by 2050 come from solar. The target is included in the DOE’s Solar Futures Study detailing how solar will help decarbonize the power grid.
In its analysis, the DOE points to the significant drop in price for solar panels, which have plunged so much in the last decade that they provide an affordable option for meeting the 2050 goal. The study finds that solar panels could even provide roughly 40 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2035, depending on the scale of their use.
Achieving that ambitious goal requires a mix of federal tax incentives and supportive state policies, along with research and development funding from the DOE to help homeowners and the private sector overcome remaining cost barriers to installing solar panels.
The government could also reward electric utilities through incentives if they build out more solar and expand rooftop solar for customers.
One of the biggest impediments to expanding rooftop solar for homeowners is that utilities are wedded to the failed fossil fuel power system that exacerbates the climate crisis. In California, the three biggest investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Power & Electric, are pushing state regulators to crush the popular rooftop solar program that provides compensation for customers selling back any excess electricity they generate to the utilities. The big three utilities are ardently opposed to paying ratepayers for the surplus energy.
EWG has formally intervened in a proceeding before the California Public Utilities Commission urging regulators to dismiss the utilities’ scheme.
Duke Energy, the largest investor-owned utility in the U.S. with a service area spanning six states, is also fighting an increase in solar for its roughly seven million customers.
“It’s time for these laggard utilities to either accept the reality that renewable energy is where this country is heading and support the transition, or get out of the way and let states, communities and the private sector take over,” said Cook. “This plan by the Biden administration, if implemented, may be the shove that utilities like PG&E and Duke need to finally drop their opposition to the clean energy revolution.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action