In a crowded room Tuesday morning at Denver’s City and County Building, Mayor Michael Hancock officially released the city’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan, which sets an aggressive path toward combatting climate change in the Mile High City. Among the plan’s most ambitious goals, the mayor announced Denver would achieve 100 percent renewable electricity in municipal facilities by 2025 and community-wide by 2030.

The Climate Action Plan has been in motion since 2015, and over the past three years, the city has been working to develop renewable energy strategies and identify key community stakeholders who would help bring the plan to fruition. At Tuesday’s press conference, Hancock was joined by representatives from city and state organizations including the Sierra Club, the Alliance Center, Mile High Connects, Working Families, and Environment Colorado.

The plan’s most broad target is to reduce emissions 80 percent below 2005 baseline levels by 2050, but today’s announcement also made clear several specific interim goals. In addition to achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, the plan outlines a target to reduce community-wide greenhouse emissions 30 percent by 2025 and to increase electric vehicle registrations in Denver by 30 percent by 2030. “Interim goals are imperative in order for us to track progress and continually reassess methodologies,” Hancock says.

While 100 percent renewable electricity for the city is one of the more aggressive goals, the plan also highlights the three sectors most responsible for greenhouse emissions in Denver: electricity generation, buildings, and transportation. “Equally if not more important [than the 100 percent renewable electricity target] are our strategies to make energy efficiency a critical first step in addition to finding sound transportation strategies to help move people and improve the diversity of transportation modes in the city,” says Tom Herrod, a climate and policy analyst for the City and County of Denver.

In order to meet the various goals outline in the 80×50 plan, the city is working closely with Xcel Energy, Denver’s primary energy provider, which has already set an ambitious goal to move away from coal and generate over half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2026.

As for Denver’s own plan, many of the local climate activists gathered Tuesday morning believe that it is well within reach. Because solar and wind energy in particular have become more affordable, Garrett Garner-Wells, state director for Environment Colorado, says he thinks the city ought to be able to hit the targets it has outlined. In fact, on the heels of Mayor Hancock’s announcement, Environment Colorado released a report demonstrating the reasons why the 100 percent renewable electricity strategy is feasible. While the advent of affordable wind and solar power helps the city’s cause, Garner-Wells stressed that energy storage technology must continue to evolve over the next 12 years for the interim goals to be met.

According to a release from the city, Denver is the 73rd city nationwide to commit to 100 percent clean electricity, joining nine other Colorado communities that have adopted a 100 percent clean energy goal.

Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.