Small towns with big plans: Municipal adoption of 100% renewable electricity policies

Hanna L. Breetz, Leah C. Kunkel, Sechindra Vallury, Kathryn V. Cuiffo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


U.S. cities are now taking a more active role in clean energy transitions with a variety of policies for decarbonization, net-zero emissions, and renewable energy. We focus on the adoption of one rapidly growing policy trend: commitments for 100% renewable electricity (100RE). Over 180 U.S. cities and towns have made these pledges, most since the 2016 election. Remarkably, they have been adopted by many small towns and cities that are not typically leaders in sustainability policy. To explore potential drivers of policy adoption, we conduct a matched-pair analysis of municipalities with and without 100RE pledges. We find that municipalities that adopt 100RE policies are no more likely to have municipal utilities, such that successful implementation will likely require institutional innovation. The unexpected correlation with higher poverty rates suggests that policies will need to be carefully designed to minimize rate impacts. Although these results raise implementation challenges, we also find that 100RE adopters are more likely to have institutions for sustainability governance, local colleges and universities, and experience with energy efficiency policy, which may assist them in designing effective policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102664
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Decarbonization
  • Energy policy
  • Low carbon
  • Policy adoption
  • Renewable energy
  • Urban sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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