During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama made his support of renewable energy known by setting the goal that the United States should derive 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2012. It was hoped that this policy would be a crucial step in weaning the United States off of foreign oil while simultaneously mitigating the effects of climate change.
So how goes the promise?
We spoke with the Christina Kielich of the U.S. Department of Energy press office. She told us that the United States receives approximately 11 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. This breaks down to about 6 percent from hydroelectricity, 3 percent from wind, and approximately 1% each from solar, biomass, and geothermal. Thus, in 2011 - one year head of Obama"s promise, the United States has already reached more than the 10 percent renewable level.
Yet, as Dave Hamilton, director of Global Warming and Energy Programs for the Sierra Club, pointed out in an e-mail interview, the Obama administration might not have had that far to go. Hamilton contends that, based on a report by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) -- the statistical, independent body within the Department of Energy -- the U.S. was already receiving roughly 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2009. "It was the strong growth in both hydro and wind that brought it over 10 percent for 2009, so I'm not saying the promise was disingenuous. But somebody must have known they didn't have that far to go to make 10 percent with hydro left in the mix," said Hamilton. The EIA report that Hamilton cites specifies that the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act was primarily responsible for this growth of renewable energy-based electricity in 2009.
The Obama campaign picked rather low-hanging fruit when it came to this promise. After all, the increase to 10 percent may have happened anyway. Nevertheless, the Obama administration made a pledge and delivered. Thus, we rate this Promise Kept.