Georgetown, Texas Goes with 100 Percent Renewable Energy
Mayor Dale Ross
The city of Georgetown, Texas has become a model for other cities that hope to become totally powered by clean renewable energy. Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross notes that a 150-megawatt solar power agreement was recently finalized, in addition to a 144-megawatt wind power agreement signed in 2014 to make the Georgetown one of the largest municipally owned utilities in the U.S., supplying its customers with 100 percent solar and wind energy. The long-term agreements also allow the city to provide competitive electric rates and hedge against price volatility for energy produced from fossil fuels.
Twenty-five miles north of Austin, Georgetown is the first city in Texas to follow the example of Burlington, Vermont, by committing to be 100 percent renewable by January 2017. The decision to go fossil-fuel free was above all an economic decision: city officials came to the conclusion that it was cheaper for them to convert to renewable resources for their power generation. The combination of wind and solar will provide electricity at a lower rate than the city now pays, and will allow stability in electricity prices.
The switch will also provide a variety of health benefits for the citizens of Georgetown.
The use of solar and wind-produced energy also means that unlike natural gas, nuclear or coal-fired power plants, energy production for Georgetown will not require large amounts of water each day. This is an enormous benefit for a city that like DFW is constantly facing droughts.
These renewable power sources may also lead to an economic development benefit. Many companies, especially those in the high-tech sector, have invested in green sources of power for their office and manufacturing facilities. Georgetown’s 100 percent renewable power supply can help companies to achieve sustainability goals at a competitive price, as is the case in Dallas, where Facebook is building their own wind farm to provide energy for a new 250,000-square-foot data center.
Other cities that are committing to 100 percent renewable energy are Aspen, Colorado; San Diego, California; and San Jose, California. Aspen hopes to go 100 percent renewable by the end of the year by way of solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal. San Jose expects to become fossil-fuel free by 2022, thanks to renewable technologies like solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, hydrogen, biomass, electrochemical and fuel cell technologies. San Diego plans to use solar, wind, and hydropower to become 100 percent renewable by 2035.