By FRANCES LAMBERTS

Alternative, clean energy sources are rapidly expanding in cities, businesses and utilities across the country, and the establishment of a solar farm by BrightRidge is part of the national trend.

The Huffington Post reported in June that the number of U.S. cities pledging to go 100-percent renewable energy doubled last year, to at least 70, amid President Trump’s rollback of federal climate policies and regulations.

An additional 201 cities, representing more than 24 million people and 6.5 percent of the national electricity have endorsed the 100-percent clean energy goal, their policies to be developed in the months to come. That figure, too, the paper stated, doubled since last year.

The announcement of the new commitments was made at the 2018 Conference of Mayors, held earlier in June, in Boston.

As many sources, and officials at the deployment of the BrightRidge solar farm have noted, market forces are the principal drivers in these clean-energy investments. Rapid cost declines have made renewables the cheapest available source of new energy. They are good for industries’ bottom line, enhance (our) state’s economic development, and create high quality jobs. On that aspect, U.S. Department of Labor statistics show solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine technicians to be the fastest growing among well-paying jobs in 2016.

Not that climate-change awareness, and dire need for action on it, isn’t among the motivating factors, for both the corporate world and the American public. A special issue of Scientific American this year reports on the Mars Company, its Snickers chocolate bars popular still, since 1911, but now a global business with 140 factories around the world. The company established a wind farm in Texas which generates 100 percent of the electricity demand for all its U.S. operations.

It also operates wind farms in Scotland and Mexico, plans to deploy such in China, India, and Australia, and installed a “solar garden” in Nevada which produces all electricity needed at its site there, on sunny days.

“Climate change, water scarcity and deforestation are serious threats to society,” states the company’s sustainability director, “and it is imperative that global businesses do their part to face down those threats.” After all, he says, “reducing our carbon footprint is good not only for the planet but also for our bottom line.”

More than 80 percent of 153 major corporations are reported to be actively pursuing or planning to purchase renewable energy over the next 2 to 10 years. Price may be the leading factor in their decision, and that of cities and other entities to transition to clean energy sources, but so is the desire to create a healthier planet in which to be successful in the future. It coincides with what a Forbes article indicates as one of the underlying drivers of this trend, “the broadening public awareness and support for renewables as an actionable solution to combat climate change, leading to increased … renewable energy demand from electricity suppliers.”

The Tennessee Valley Authority has a long way to go to catch up with this national trend, but the BrightRidge action is a highly positive development.