Today on The Climate Daily, wIth coal in free fall, Wyoming towns seek to stabilize an uncertain future with wind power, plus the Hawaiian island of Kauai is projected to reach 80% renewable power BY 2025. This story came from one of our listeners — Dominica on track to become first hurricane-proof Caribbean island nation, and Britain’s North Yorkshire River Project will help to combat climate change.
Wyoming’s Quest to Substitute Coal Power with Wind Power, Possibility of Hawaiian Island to Reach 80% of Renewable Energy, First Hurricane Proof Caribbean Island, Britain’s River Project to Help Combat Climate Change
WITH COAL IN FREE FALL, WYOMING TOWNS SEEK TO STABILIZE AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
Several communities across WYOMING are breaking with state policy and forging their own plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year, the Laramie City Council signed a proclamation committing to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The international tourist destination of Jackson aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. In Sheridan, a new “Renewable Energy Assessment” states the town must “showcase a willingness to adapt to changing realities and markets.”
In October, Lander Mayor Monte Richardson signed a proclamation that acknowledges “the adverse impacts of climate change and the risk it poses to the Lander Community.” The proclamation delineated Richardson’s support of a goal to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions to enhance community resilience, quality of life and economic viability for current and future generations.”
These Wyoming towns are in the company of a growing number of U.S. cities resolving to cut greenhouse gas emissions. At least 150 have committed to net-zero emissions in coming years. Yet the voluntary efforts in Wyoming — the nation’s top coal producer and among the top in oil and natural gas — stand in contrast to state-level policies which might even inhibit communities attempting to move beyond a boom-and-bust fossil-fuel economy.
“Communities across Wyoming are waking up to the fact that our fossil fuel energy is no longer going to pay the way,” renewable energy advocate and community organizer Monika Leininger said.
Shifting toward more renewable sources of energy to diversify a local economy, according to Leininger, also speaks to Wyoming’s independent, bootstrapping culture. Just as state and regional partnerships lead U.S. climate action in the absence of a national climate and energy policy, Leininger said she sees a growing resolve among Wyoming communities to take actions independent of state policies and politics.
Resolutions to measure emissions and to achieve a net-zero emissions target by 2050 have enjoyed unanimous support by the Laramie City Council, Harrington said. Local officials are also reaching out to other Wyoming communities to explore whether they might jointly invest in new solar energy projects.
In 2007, the city of Jackson and Teton County collaborated to come up with a “10 by 10” goal: reduce electrical consumption and fossil fuel consumption, each by 10%, by 2010. The local governments hit the mark, off by only a few months. In 2010, voters approved a local excise tax of $3.8 million to invest in a suite of energy saving efforts and to begin adding renewable sources of energy — an investment that local leaders say has already paid for itself.
Among the highlights of the community’s renewable energy efforts is the largest solar array in the state, located at the local sewage treatment plant. It generates approximately 750,000 kilowatt hours per year.
DEEPER DIVE: HCN
KAUAI PROJECTED TO REACH 80% RENEWABLE POWER BY 2025
Hawaii’s island of Kauai is projected to reach 80% renewable power with solar generation, batteries and multiple reservoirs and hydro generators. Reported by Green Tech Media, the nonprofit Kauai Island Utility Cooperative and the electric power distribution corporation AES are working together to deliver renewable power from a solar-charged water pumping system.
These long-duration storage systems can cost-effectively handle longer hours of energy compared to today’s lithium-ion batteries. These storage devices could be enough to cover evening peak hours but not enough last through the night. If approved, the project is estimated to bring Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s electricity mix to 80% clean energy by roughly 2025.
The partnership would also contribute to the state’s energy goals. According the Hawaii State Energy Office, the state has committed to achieving the nation’s first-ever 100% renewable electricity portfolio standards by 2045.
DEEPER DIVE: Green Tech Media, Hawaii State Energy Office
DOMINICA ON TRACK TO BECOME FIRST HURRICANE-PROOF CARRIBEAN ISLAND
SENT IN BY A LISTENER: Thank you to Anna-Maria Vincent, a loyal subscriber to The Climate Daily, for bringing us this next story. She’s a native of the Caribbean island of Dominica, and so this story of strength, hope and courage resonates deeply with her.
Back in 2017, Dominica was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a Cat 5 storm, destroying 226% of the country’s GDP and 90% of the structures. In 2018, Dominca’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressed the UN general assembly in the aftermath of Maria’s landfall, asking for the funds to create such a hurricane-proof nation—one that cannot only resist powerful storms physically, but also economically and spiritually.
In 2018, Dominica passed the Climate Resilience Act, and established the Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD), which fully came into effect in 2019. CREAD has been charged with establishing uniform building codes, geothermal energy plants, a hurricane-proof hospital and healthcare system, and improving public transit.
The Prime Minister’s vision also included a prosperous ecotourism industry that could replenish the state’s coffers before and after storms deplete them. So, as part of CREAD, Skerrit enacted a ban on plastic and other debris such as single-use straws, and Styrofoam food items to try and aid in creating the image of a pristine Caribbean island that will attract tourists with deeper pockets.
Three years on, HOW’S CREAD DOING? IS DOMINICA CLOSER THAN EVER TO BECOMING THE CARRIBBEAN’S FIRST HURRICANE PROOF NATION? THAT COUNTRY IS MAKING PROGRESS, BUT NOT WITHOUT SOME HICCUPS. IN ENACTING ALL ASPECTS OF CREAD, including underfunding on some initiatives, but it continues to move forward. WE AT THE CLIMATE DAILY LOOK FORWARD TO COVERING DOMINICA’S ONGOING EVOLUTION.
DEEPER DIVE: National Geographic, Good News Network
NORTH YORKSHIRE RIVER PROJECT TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
Thank you so much for sharing that story with us, Anna-Maria.
A new project to protect the historical Skell river from the effect of climate change is on the horizon in the United Kingdom. Reported by the BBC, a roughly $3 million project is expected to begin in March, planting trees and meadows along the 12-mile river in North Yorkshire to slow the river currents.
In a report by the National Trust, the effects of climate change are predicted to cause irreparable damage to the 12th Century site. The improvements are said to reduce flooding and boost the habitats for rare wildlife, such as the white-clawed crayfish and golden p-lover.
In an interview with the BBC, Harry Bow-ell with the National Trust said, “climate change is eroding away nature and heritage and only by working across our boundaries, with local people and partners, and with nature, will we be able to make a real difference.”
The project is expected to last four years. It will be exciting to see how the environment and its wildlife respond to such a beneficial project.
Deeper Dive: BBC