A recent article from theguardian.com brings news about a city in Texas that has decided to get all of its energy from renewable sources.
The city is Georgetown. While the city is close to the more “left” leaning Austin, the interim city manager – Jim Briggs – claims to be “..the furthest thing from an Al Gore clone you could find”. Mr. Briggs was a key player in the decision to transition Georgetown’s power sources to solar and wind.
So why a switch to renewable energy? In Jim’s words – “We didn’t do this to save the world – we did this to get a competitive rate and reduce the risk for our consumers.” In fact, electricity consumers can expect to pay about 9 cents per kilowatt hour with this new renewable energy deal. What’s just as attractive as the low rate is the fact that the price will stay the same for decades, unlike typical pricing increases for fossil fuels.
The deal was signed with SunEdison, an international solar power company. SunEdison will provide 150 megawatts of solar power to Georgetown through 2041. The plan also consists of wind power that that helps provide power after the sun has set.
Another significant benefit of this deal is to protect the region’s dwindling water supplies. Renewable energy can have a significant impact with water conservation as it uses much less water than fracking and other fossil fuels.
This story obviously bodes well for the future of solar and wind power. If a traditionally conservative and oil-rich place like Texas can embrace renewable energy, then every state in America can do the same.
The main point of this story is not about different energy sources, its about basic economics. The leaders of Georgetown were simply trying to provide the cheapest form of power for their residents.
Solar power and wind power will continue to be adopted at increasing rates. This is because their pricing rates are decreasing. The prices for solar power are now cheaper than conventional energy over the life of a solar panel system.
For many people, environmental concerns are secondary. This is completely understandable as we all have our bills to pay. As much as we would like to “do the right thing”, if we can’t afford it financially, it won’t happen. This is what is exciting about the Georgetown story. We can finally afford to be environmentally responsible.
Renewable energy simply makes good financial sense now.