Claiming Power: Stories of Rural Communities and Clean Energy

Washington State aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the scale and pace that the climate crisis requires

The Clean Energy Transition Institute and our partners were privileged to have been chosen to provide technical assistance to the Washington State Department of Commerce in developing and designing the state’s 2021 State Energy Strategy.
Washington State Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets
below 1990 levels by 2030
below 1990 levels by 2040
below 1990 levels, with net zero emissions by 2050

Washington 2021 State Energy Strategy and Supporting Materials

This project enabled us to develop a wealth of information about specific policies and actions required to decarbonize the building, transportation, electricity, and industrial sectors in the next decade and beyond, not only in Washington, but across the Northwest.

Technical Advisory Process

From March-December 2020 the CETI Team provided technical analysis to the Washington State Department of Commerce in support of a suite of policies and actions designed to meet Washington’s greenhouse gas targets and achieve decarbonization in the state.
The technical consulting included:
Conducting a meta-analysis of existing energy studies and strategies and an inventory of existing Washington policies, programs, regulations, investments, and tools
Facilitating a technical advisory process to inform the Advisory Committee’s advice and recommendations
Performing decarbonization and modeling and analysis, building on existing efforts and guided by the technical advisory process and Advisory Committee deliberations
Working with Commerce to create communication materials, including the design and preparation of a final report and supporting documents to launch the final 2021 State Energy Strategy
Technical Analysis and Strategy Design Consultants

The Clean Energy Transition Institute facilitated the technical advisory process, design, and production of the Washington State 2021 Energy Strategy from March to December with the following consultants:

Clean Energy Transition Institute

Aditi Bansal, Policy and Research Analyst
Marc Daudon, Senior Fellow
Nicole Larson, Research Assistant
David Paolella, Policy and Research Analyst
Eileen V. Quigley, Executive Director

Evolved Energy Research

Jeremy Hargreaves, Principal

Hammerschlag, LLC

Roel Hammerschlag, Principal

Inclusive Economics

Betony Jones, Founder

One Visual Mind

Karen Beck, Partner
Carol Maglitta
, Partner

Stockholm Environment Institute

Derik Broekhoff, Senior Scientist
Michael Lazarus
, U.S. Center Director

2050 Institute

Poppy Storm, Founder and Director of Innovation

The Clean Energy Transition Institute is launching a storytelling initiative focused on Washington State’s rural communities. 

Meeting Washington’s ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by 2030 and 2050 requires a radical reconfiguration of how energy is created and provided throughout the state. Yet the state cannot achieve its climate goals if its citizens do not see themselves in the new energy future. 

Renewable energy projects have the potential to bring economic development, resiliency, and opportunity to rural Washington, which is on the frontlines of the clean energy transition. Yet with these opportunities come with complex choices, and potential changes to familiar landscapes. 

Behind the policies guiding a transition to clean energy are human stories; people navigating their relationship to land, energy, and economic opportunity. By sharing these stories through short videos and other media, the Claiming Power project aims to put a human face on the energy transformation underway across the state. 

Ultimately, these stories are about claiming power, in the broadest sense. Renewable energy can be an agent of renewal if communities are able to shape their energy destiny. The rapid shift to clean energy could create new partnerships between rural and urban areas, as regions with energy resources and open space harvest power to meet urban and industrial demand. What does it mean for individuals, businesses, and communities across Washington to claim power? 

Project Phases 

The first phase of this project involves research, with the goal of identifying people and projects with compelling stories to share. The stories feature a range of geographic areas and subjects, exploring five initial topics: utility-scale projects, distributed energy, future fuels, building efficiency, and communities in transition. 

Phase Two entails documenting specific stories in video for online formats. We anticipate beginning story production in fall 2021, with up to five story locations currently under consideration. Editing and post-production would commence in late 2021. 

The final phase of the project is sharing stories with the public to invite conversation and engagement through partnerships and community outreach. Completed stories could be embedded in the Institute’s Northwest Clean Energy Atlas, deepening the narrative component of this online resource. We welcome story suggestions from Washington residents.


The stakes are high for rural Washington communities. Significant wind and solar resources will be required to meet the demand for increased clean electricity. Rural areas could reap the benefits of the transition with jobs, tax revenue, clean air, and clean water. But at what cost? What does a rapid transition to clean energy mean for rural communities across the state? Where do different stakeholders see themselves in this unfolding story? 

In the words of one transition advocate, “communication is the key; our fates may hang in the balance.” Featuring people and places across Washington who have engaged in the energy transition on their own terms will help build a new story: one that gives viewers a chance to picture themselves claiming power through the clean energy transition. 

Washington State Industrial Emissions Analysis Documents:

Oregon Clean Energy Pathways Analysis Documents:

2021 WA State Energy Strategy Presentations

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