Cities are helping drive U.S. action on climate change, setting zero-emission targets that have expanded the market for renewable energy. In 2020 alone, 95 local governments across 33 states made 143 deals to purchase renewable energy, according to an April report from the Rocky Mountain Institute and World Resources Institute. The 3,683 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy generation capacity purchased that year was the largest in a single year.

A key reason for that record-breaking total, the report found, was due to cities finding creative ways to fund that procurement. On the CRS webinar, Lara Cottingham, chief of staff and chief sustainability officer for Houston, said that meeting the city’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 and powered solely by renewable energy required a combination of ambition and good timing.

The city happened to be renewing a contract with utility NRG at a time when renewable power prices were low, so it locked in a purchase of more than 1 million megawatt hours (MWh) though the utility’s renewable select plan. Houston is also creating a third-party, utility scale solar facility in partnership with NRG that will be dedicated to the city, meaning it can continue to add to the renewable portfolio without striking new contracts with utilities or other providers.

Read the full article about switching to clean energy by Jason Plautz at Smart Cities Dive.