More than 100 cities across the United States have made new, ambitious commitments to increase their use of renewable energy – and a newly formed accelerator has formed to help them out.

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, World Resources Institute (WRI), and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) have kicked off a joint effort to help cities procure over 2.8 gigawatts of renewable capacity – more than the total existing solar capacity in Nevada, Florida or Texas.

The new program, the American Cities Climate Challenge Renewables Accelerator, will provide powerful resources for cities across the United States to achieve their renewable goals, with the help of RMI’s and WRI’s technical support and expertise.

The programme will help cities procure large-scale, off-site renewable energy, deploy renewables locally, and navigate regulatory, policy and institutional barriers by engaging with utilities and policymakers.

“The role cities must play in spurring demand for renewable energy and accelerating the clean energy transition has never been more important,” said Antha N. Williams, Head of Environmental Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We are excited to work with some of America’s most ambitious cities to deepen their renewable procurement efforts, tackle climate change and ultimately deliver for their communities.”.

“Many of the largest cities in the US are working through these issues at the same time,” said Kim Havey, Director of the City of Minneapolis’ Division of Sustainability. “Minneapolis is excited to work with the Renewables Accelerator to come up with innovative solutions that allow us and Xcel Energy, our utility, to work together on decarbonization, and pave the way for other cities to follow suit.”

Pittsburgh, PA, another Climate Challenge winner and Renewables Accelerator participant, hopes to encourage its whole region to move toward clean electricity by working with the Western Pennsylvania Energy Consortium (WPEC) - a consortium which allows Pittsburgh to purchase energy on the wholesale market.

“Through WPEC, we’ve created the opportunity to influence how we source our electricity – the next step is legally enabling this group to directly procure or invest in large-scale clean energy projects,” said Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer of the City of Pittsburgh. “With assistance from the Renewables Accelerator, we hope to make that goal a reality and enter into agreements that both have positive impacts locally and help Pittsburgh reach our 100 per cent renewable energy commitment.”