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Clean Energy Driving Economic Growth in States

Job gains. Declining electricity rates. Magnet for economic development.

From east to west, a growing number of states are embracing the promise of a low-carbon economy, both by setting ambitious renewable energy goals and expanding programs that encourage energy efficiency. In the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii and Minnesota, the largest utilities are sourcing 20 to 35 percent of their electricity from carbon-free wind, solar and other renewable sources. Consumers are also saving billions of dollars on their energy bills because these programs are helping to trim electricity demand by as much as 1.5 percent every year.

This is obviously good news for reducing the carbon pollution that is causing climate change.

But there's another big plus stemming from state-driven efforts: tailwinds for their economies through good-paying jobs, stable energy costs and attracting new businesses.

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EIA: Extending Clean-Energy Policies Would Cut Coal, Boost Renewables

Strengthening the Clean Power Plan and extending efficiency standards and clean-energy tax credits would substantially boost renewables and cut down on coal over the next several decades, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In 2040, the U.S. would consumer 9.26 quadrillion British Thermal Units of coal if the federal government extends a series of policies encouraging clean energy, compared to 15.46 quadrillion BTUs if the Clean Power Plan never goes into effect and the government doesn't extend clean-energy policies, EIA projected. The estimate represents a 40 percent decrease in coal consumption, due to extended clean-energy tax credits and tougher CPP standards.

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North American Leaders to Pledge More Reliance on Renewables

The leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico will pledge this week to rely on renewable energy to generate 50 percent of North America's electrical power by 2025, White House officials said Monday.

That's a big jump from last year's 37 percent level. But it's doable through greater efficiency and reliance on solar, wind and other clean energy sources, Brian Deese, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said.

"The transformation of the American energy sector that's underway is going to continue," Deese said. "That has been driven by market forces that are bringing down the cost of clean energy at rates that even the smartest analysts weren't predicting only a couple of years ago."

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Solar Power to Grow Sixfold as Sun Becoming Cheapest Resource

The amount of electricity generated using solar panels stands to expand as much as sixfold by 2030 as the cost of production falls below competing natural gas and coal-fired plants, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Solar plants using photovoltaic technology could account for 8 percent to 13 percent of global electricity produced in 2030, compared to 1.2 percent at the end of last year, the Abu Dhabi-based industry group said in a report Wednesday. The average cost of electricity from a photovolatic system is forecast to plunge as much as 59 percent by 2025, making solar the cheapest form of power generation "in an increasing number of cases," it said.

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Electric Utilities Prepare for a Grid Dominated by Renewable Energy

A growing number of electric industry leaders agree that it's only a matter of time before renewable energy resources dominate their grid systems.

In California, it's already a reality, said Steve Berberich, president and CEO of California Independent System Operator Corporation. On a typical day, CAISO will pull about 30,000 megawatts of energy production, with around 6,500 megawatts from solar, 5,000 megawatts from wind and another 5,000 from geothermal and other services on the system. In addition, California's grid system has roughly 4,000 megawatts of behind-the-meter solar, which is growing at a rate of 70 megawatts per month.

In any given day, California gets more than 30 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. On many days that amount climbs to 40 percent, and on some days renewable s reach 50 percent, said Berberich.

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Cost of Clean Energy Seen Nosediving Into the Next Decade

The cost of renewables technology is set to keep falling into the next decade, boosting the economic case for clean energy, according to an industry group.

The average cost of electricity from a photovoltaic system is forecast to plunge as much as 59 percent by 2025, according to a report Wednesday by the International Renewable Energy Agency. The technology last year produced energy that was already 58 percent cheaper than it was in 2010, the Abu Dhabi-based industry group said. 

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Australian Transition to 50% Renewables by 2030 Would Create 28,000 Jobs

An Australian transition to 50% renewables by 2030 would create 28,000 jobs, according to a report from Ernst & Young (EY) and the Climate Council.

The 'Renewable Energy: Future Jobs and Growth' study found that such a target would create nearly 50% more employment than by continuing on the same trajectory of 34% renewables by 2030. Jobs would be created in construction, operation and maintenance as well as in related industries.

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World Bank finds cash moving to renewables

Investments in renewable energy made up more than half of all private investments last year, signaling a low-carbon shift is under way, the World Bank said.

A report from the bank finds global private investments held relatively steady from 2014 to total $111.6 billion last year. Investments in renewable energy, however, were higher in 2015 than during the past five years.

"Solar energy investments climbed 72 percent higher than the last five-year average, while renewables attracted nearly two-thirds of investments with private participation," the bank said in a statement.

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The World Nears Peak Fossil Fuels for Electricity

The way we get electricity is about to change dramatically, as the era of ever-expanding demand for fossil fuels comes to an end—in less than a decade. That's according to a new forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that plots out global power markets for the next 25 years.

Call it peak fossil fuels, a turnabout that's happening not because we're running out of coal and gas, but because we're finding cheaper alternatives. Demand is peaking ahead of schedule because electric cars and affordable battery storage for renewable power are arriving faster than expected, as are changes in China's energy mix.

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