Fossil fuel city flips to renewables

Texas has said “Hold ‘Em!” to the fossil fuel generators.

It’s not a surprise that the U.S. city of Georgetown has decided to go 100 percent renewable, after all solar has become an unstoppable force. What does raise eyebrows though is that Georgetown is in Texas, the state synonymous with gushing fossil fuel, the Bush family and well, more gushing fossil fuel.

Even more surprising perhaps is that the city has flipped the switch to renewables after admitting that solar and wind energy are a better financial option.

“It was really primarily a price decision,” said Keith Hutchinson, the city’s spokesman said to reporters after the decision.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future for regulations for fossil-based fuels,” he said. “This really removes that element from our price costs going forward.”

The city of 54,000 has signed a 25-year deal with SunEdison to buy 150 megawatts of solar power beginning in 2016. This dovetails with a separate agreement signed last year with EDF Renewables to source 144 megawatts of wind energy from a wind farm that will provide energy until 2039.

The contract will keep the citizens of Georgetown in clean energy for 24,000 homes until 2041. SunEdison, the world’s largest renewable energy company, has stated it intends to build a solar farm in West Texas to meet the demand of the city’s energy, according to reports. Most importantly the city has found the renewable energy option to be cheaper than its existing contracts.

Here’s how Jim Briggs, Georgetown’s general manager of utilities, puts it:

“Georgetown Utility Services isn’t required to buy solar or other renewables – we did so because it will save on electricity costs and decrease our water usage. This power purchase agreement makes Georgetown Utility Systems one of the largest municipal utilities in the nation to be 100 per cent renewable powered. It also provides a hedge against future fuel and regulatory risks.”

What better place for the financial viability argument to emerge than in Texas, the state synonymous with fossil fuels?

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