A Tale of Five Cities

I am often bemused by folks that argue against renewable energy citing costs and jobs. Some say the industry is fledgling, but this does a disservice to the huge progress made over the last five years. Renewable energy jobs are growing at double digit rates per annum and the production costs continue to fall and are much closer to fossil fuel costs, and even cheaper when the present value of all costs (environmental degradation, extraction, transportation, maintenance, health care, litigation, et al) are factored in.

Yet, let’s set that aside and consider five cities in the US – Aspen CO, Burlington VT, Greensburg KS, Houston TX and Las Vegas NV. The first three cities are fully powered by renewable energy, where the last two have significant renewable energy portfolios.

Burlington was the first city to claim being 100% powered by renewable energy – solar, wind and hydro-electric. Per a November, 2016 Politico article, the electric utility has not had a rate increase in eight years for its 42,000 residents.

Greensburg came next, unfortunately they had to experience a tornado that leveled the town. As they rebuilt the town, they did so with a green mindset. So, using solar and the heavy wind across the plain states, helped electrify the town with renewable energy. Starting from scratch let them build for the future.

Aspen was the third city. I find this interesting as I read an article a few years back over the concern of climate change on the skiing industry. More often, climate change impact focuses on coastal cities. This city acted and has now pushed the envelope to 100% renewable energy.

Which brings me to Las Vegas. They got press stating they were 100% renewable energy powered, but that was somewhat of a misnomer. Yet, what they did do is still impactful. The 140 municipal buildings and facilities are now 100% powered by renewable energy. That is not the rest of the city, but it is a statement nonetheless.

Finally, let’s visit Houston, deep in the heart of oil rich Texas. Per The Guardian in an article this week, Houston is the leading city in the US in producing renewable energy through wind and solar power with 1.1 billion kWh. 89% of its electricity is renewable energy powered. They are in the top 30 in the EPA’s list of Green Partners leading six Texas cities on this list. As I mentioned recently, Texas gets just under 13% of its electricity from wind energy.

These are powerful stores, pun intended. Please remember them and tell others. We are passed the tipping point on renewable energy and we should highlight those leading the way.


22 thoughts on “A Tale of Five Cities

  1. I had to laugh when Donald “fossil-fuel” Trump suggested that his WALL should be solar powered so it could pay for itself. Republicans willful ignorance, hypocrisy and deplorable chicanery all rolled up into one. Republicans are greedy Fatheads.

    • Tom, I saw that. I interpreted that to mean he wanted to placate some about the wall saying it would be energy efficient. It also is interesting that Rick Perry does not mention how much wind energy his home state has nor the Houston story. Keith

  2. Dear Keith,

    Thanks for a great blog. Houston used to be the capitol of oil country but now it is a leader in the usage of renewable energy.

    The democrats should use this data in ads for where our country should be heading for the 2018 midterm elections.

    Ciao, Gronda

  3. Reblogged this on Gronda Morin and commented:
    This outstanding post by Keith of Musingsofanoldfart.com, shows how a city like Houston, Texas the former capitol of oil country can become a leader in the usage of renewable energy. This is where our country should be heading instead of the current White House implementing plans to push us into the past where we were totally dependent on fossil fuel.

    • Thanks Gronda. We need more folks shouting out these stories. This is not fake news and is happening in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, etc., all red states.

  4. Interesting about Las Vegas. When my husband and I were there earlier this year, we were surprised by the lack of solar on the rooftops of most of the homes we saw baking in the desert sun. I would have thought that solar panels would have been standard, especially in new construction.

  5. Note to Readers: Just to add a little more seasoning, the state of Iowa gets over 31% of its electricity from wind power with fifteen other states getting more than 10%. While Texas gets about 13%, being much larger, it is the largest wind energy producer in the country. California is the leading solar energy state, and if measured as a country, would be the 7th largest solar energy country in the world. So, we are doing a great deal about climate change, but need to do more.

  6. Excellent and encouraging post, Keith! Just because the ‘man’ at the top eschews climate change and refuses to support renewable energy does not mean the rest of the nation believes the same. Hats off to these five cities, and to you for spotlighting them!

    • Thanks Jill. We need many more to spread the word. We have far too many folks who try to shut down conversations with Solyndra, yet that was many, many moons ago. Keith

      • It does not, but when I hear someone cite that as the reason not to do solar power, I know they are ill-informed as to the amazing progress since then. By the way, I read today that GE bought a Danish wind mill blade maker on the past year. GE gets it and they are not a fly by night company.

      • Most people today seem to be remarkably ill-informed. It is why I so enjoy my circle of friends here on WordPress, including yourself, Gronda and Hugh, and it is also why I write what I write … in hopes of informing at least a few. Sigh.

      • Sigh. Yes, that is the problem … I don’t think we are reaching the audience that most needs to hear what we say. I do not know how to reach them. Sigh.

      • Jill, I have resigned myself to not reaching the audience that needs it most, to reaching an audience that may hold a different opinion, but have an open mind. Keith

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