Solar power

How Puerto Rico plans to only use renewable power by 2050

This is a birds eye view of destroyed solar panels in a dirt field.
Solar panel debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Photo: Ricardo ArduengoAFP/Getty Images

Puerto Rico has pledged to use 100% renewable power by 2050 as the island rebuilds its grid in the wake of Hurricane Maria, according to the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act signed by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló this month.

The bottom line: The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has set short-term goals for reaching the 100% renewable power deadline. José Ortiz Vázquez, PREPA's CEO, tells Axios he's discussed implementing a "transitional" plan with the U.S. Department of Energy that will use natural gas as a backbone for metropolitan areas as the island works to rebuild its power grid and use more solar power.

Expert Voices

Renewables are pulling ahead in formerly coal-heavy states

coal-fired power plant
A coal-fired power plant outside Kingston, Tennessee. Photo: Paul Harris/Getty Images

Thanks to the declining costs of wind and solar energy, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico and other states have made plans to retire old coal plants early — paving the way for deeper penetration of clean energy.

The big picture: At least 36 gigawatts (GW) of the country's 260 GW of existing coal generation are forecast to close by 2024, continuing the trend from last year's record 15 GW of coal retirements. These transitions are often moving ahead without political pressure and in states that lack renewable energy mandates.