A Tale of Five Cities (a reprise)

The following brief post was written four years ago. Even more progress has been made in other cities in the United States and around the globe. Wind energy is growing like gangbusters in the plains states and and solar energy continues to grow in others. US car makers are competing with foreign auto makers to make entire fleets of new electric vehicles and offshore wind has been approved off the Cape Cod area to help us rival other countries in offshore wind, such as Scotland.

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.

26 thoughts on “A Tale of Five Cities (a reprise)

  1. Note to Readers: Since this post was first published, Texas has increased its wind energy percent and when combined with solar energy, gets more electricity from renewables than coal.

  2. Encouraging stories, indeed! Let us keep striving to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources until the day eventually comes that we can ‘leave it in the ground’ forever!

  3. I’m happy we are making progress… as slow as it is. I remember driving through several residential areas around Las Vegas a few years ago and being disheartened by how few of the homes had solar panels. It really seemed like a no-brainer with all the sunshine they get.

  4. Keith, Tasmania met 100% renewable target after the 29th wind turbine went online at Granville Harbour on the island’s west coast.

    The majority of the island’s power generation came from hydroelectric systems in 2018/19
    Our excess is exported to the mainland, David

  5. This is a most uplifting post Keith, thanks for brining to our attention.
    I like the underlying theme, that despite the efforts of the ‘previous’ (mal) administration, cities of the USA continued to go their own way. American independence at its positive best.
    There is hope yet.

  6. The F150 Lightning coupled with the amount of pre-orders is very encouraging. If Ford can get past the stigmas (range, charging availability, etc.) it should be a game changer.

    • I agree. With the tax credit, the cost will be lower than the gas powered one. But, the stigmas exist. Tesla did a great job of showing that their car could accelerate with the best of gas cars. I also liked that Ford will be building only electric Mustangs.

  7. These cities are proving that it can be done. AND these same cities will see economic benefits of what they’ve done. I get frustrated with those who complain about bird mortality with wind energy and torn up ground cover under solar farms. What do they think is happening and has been happening for decades as a result of open pit coal mines? Bird deaths? Invasive weeds? Those were the minor issues!

    • Linda, plus there wind mills are now taller than the bird flights and companies are working with Audubon to place the mills better. In Texas, ranchers are paid $5,000 annual rent per windmill, so ten windmills is a nice supplemental income. Keith

      • Exactly. Not sure if this is still going on but in Germany property owners were getting substantial tax breaks for hosting solar arrays on roof tops. This was actually leading people to construct roofs w/o buildings under them just to get the $. Carports?🤣

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