Houston Ranks No. 1 in America in Renewable Energy Use — No, Really

From Paper City Mag

The City Government’s Remarkable Feat Defies the Odds With Ambitious Climate Action Plan

BY Staff Report // 07.02.19 14

The City of Houston is a leader in renewable energy.

It’s no secret that oil and gas have long been Houston’s lifeblood. The energy industry runs through Space City’s veins, cushioning us while other cities struggle, propelling us ever forward.

But there’s something to keep in mind — energy encapsulates far more than oil and gas, from solar to wind. And the City of Houston is all about sustainability.

In fact, Houston is a straight-up leader in renewable energy across the United States.

That’s right. The City of Houston sources a whopping 92 percent of its power from wind and solar energy. According to a February EPA report, that impressive percentage ranks it higher in renewable energy use than any other city government in the United States.

Houston might carry an overall bad reputation in sustainability circles nationally, often getting painted as a polluted wasteland (often by those who’ve never visited). But the City of Houston is here to create a new one.

The City of Houston, dedicated to its ambitious Climate Action Plan, with aims for a 2020 implementation, is putting its money where its mouth is.

“Oftentimes, we think of Houston as the Oil and Gas Capital of the World. But really, we strive to be the Energy Capital of the World,” Houston’s chief sustainability officer Lara Cottingham tells PaperCity.

“As a city, we have a really long and strong history of sustainability. From a sustainability perspective, we’ve been the largest municipal user of renewable energy for some time now.”

Most of the City of Houston’s power — about 88 percent of it — comes from wind turbine operators, while the rest is sourced from an Alpine, Texas solar farm that spans 350 acres.

“Houston’s not traditionally viewed as a hotbed for climate action. But the fact that we’re doing this in our big cities just shows how far the idea of climate has changed, that’s it’s not just a political hot button issue but something we’ve realized that we have to work on,” Cottingham notes.

Mayor Turner has stepped up to the plate with renewed interest in renewables, trying to keep pace with the Paris Agreement. But Mayors Parker, White and Brown before him, set the ball rolling. “They wanted to lead by example,” Cottingham says.

The United States government pulling out of the agreement left a weight on state and city governments’ shoulders across the country. “That put a lot of pressure on U.S. cities. The cities had to step it up,” Cottingham notes.

Mayors Unite

At first, about 80 mayors across America pledged to honor the accords, Cottingham says. Now, that number has shot up to 430 mayors.

“Big cities, small cities, red states, blue states,” Cottingham says. “Everyone in between all coming together to say hey, We support the Paris agreement, what can we do?”

The City of Houston has advanced its goals through an emphasis on electric vehicles.

“That’s how we started investing in renewable energy. We’re one of the first cities early on to test out not just alternative fuels but really electric vehicles,” Cottingham says. “We have one of the largest green fleets in the country. That’s a pretty big commitment to make.”

The green transportation initiative launched back in 2002, and now the light duty passenger fleet is more than 50 percent hybrid.

“Vehicle manufacturers are saying that they’re going to start making more and more electric vehicles to the point that they might make only electric vehicles. That’s huge for Houston, for our emission reduction, for our air quality improvement,” Cottingham says.

Full article here.

HT/JS

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71 thoughts on “Houston Ranks No. 1 in America in Renewable Energy Use — No, Really

  1. That’s because the headquarters of global warming enthusiasts Enron were in Houston.

    “(Enron chairman Kenneth) Lay urged President Clinton and Vice President Gore to back a “market-based” approach to the problem of global warming — a strategy that a later Enron memo makes clear would be “good for Enron stock.”

    On Aug. 4, 1997, Lay and seven other energy executives met with Clinton, Gore, Rubin and other top officials at the White House to discuss the U.S. position at the upcoming conference on global warming in Kyoto, Japan. Lay, in a memo to Enron employees, said there was broad consensus in favor of an emissions-trading system.

    Enron officials later expressed elation at the results of the Kyoto conference. An internal memo said the Kyoto agreement, if implemented, would “do more to promote Enron’s business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/THE-ENRON-COLLAPSE-Gaining-Favor-in-Washington-2884271.php

      • No it wasn’t.

        “Remembering When Enron Saved the U.S. Wind Industry (January 1997)

        Enron came in at just the right time for a troubled, undeserving industry by Putting a big-name corporation in the U.S. wind industry for the first time;

        Issuing countless press releases on ‘wonderful’ green wind for the next several years; and
        Successfully lobbying Texas politicians to enact the most strict renewable mandate in the country in 1999.

        https://www.masterresource.org/enron-corp/the-day-enron-saved-the-u-s-wind-industry-january-7-1997/

        • Well actually it was. Here’s a list of major windfarms and solar in Texas…vast majority in the last decade.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_Texas#Wind_farms

          In addition to the timing, you’ll be lucky to find that any of these wind or solar plants are anywhere near Houston (i.e.,”the headquarters of global warming enthusiasts Enron”). You will find that the nation’s 2nd largest “conventional” power plant (both coal and natural gas) is just outside of Houston, however.

          Furthermore, the article is not about powering Houston as a whole (and certainly not state-wide legislation enacted 21 yrs ago), but providing power for the city government (presumably buildings and vehicles, mostly). The solar that they purchase is from a facility constructed in 2017. As with wind power, it was a city government impetus and had nothing to do with long-defunct Enron or any state mandates. The article we are commenting on even makes it clear this is driven by city government initiatives.

          • The seed for wind projects in Houston and Texas in general was Enron’s massive support for it.

          • I don’t think that you get that the exact same players in Enron were basically behind it and reaped massive production tax credits. People like Michael Skelly or Skelley. Look him up or look up “Clean” Line. Haha, he failed! Hey, I thought that Georgetown, Texas was the city in Texas run by the most amount of hot air. I guess that they want to try to hide Georgetown as much as possible now because it’s a warning to any other Texas city of that size that their electric rates will skyrocket just like Obama said would happen nationally.

          • So which of those windfarm projects seeded by Enron are powering City of Houston government infrastructure? We’re not talking “Texas in general,” but if you want to go there…the original mandate was 2,000 MW statewide of new alternative energy in 10 yrs (by 2009). The state hit 10,000 MW in 2010. The original mandate was blown out of the water long ago and after Enron became nothing more than a bogeyman that absolutely nobody in Texas or particularly Houston wanted to have any association with. Texas has the land and conditions suitable for wind and solar. The state is heavily-based historically in energy. The Alternative Energy Institute was founded at West Texas A&M with a focus on solar and wind energy research and public promotion. They have over 24,000 MW of generating capacity in wind alone right now. The notion things would be different particularly with the City of Houston gov’t without Enron…poppycock. Enron bought a wind turbine manufacturer as part of their plans to develop an alternative energy division but quickly decided to scrap that. It was going to be spun-off and sold even before they went bankrupt (which is when GE purchased it). Lots of revisionist history out there, but I was in Houston regularly from the mid 1990s until late 2005, and the only whiff of wind power you heard about in TX was completely on the other side of the state. It was a great way for landowners to make money, especially in depressed areas…instead of an oil derrick on their property, they had turbines or solar panels. It’s old hat in TX.

          • Excerpted from article:

            Most of the City of Houston’s power — about 88 percent of it — comes from wind turbine operators, while the rest is sourced from an Alpine, Texas solar farm that spans 350 acres.

            I didn’t believe the above when I first read it, ….. but now I know why, to wit:

            Michael Jankowski – May 30, 2020 at 12:49 pm

            Furthermore, the article is not about powering Houston as a whole (and certainly not state-wide legislation enacted 21 yrs ago), but providing power for the city government (presumably buildings and vehicles, mostly).

            And it is still a stupid claim, my opinion, …… because the “City of Houston’s power” requirements are distributed as individual “needs” all over the Houston metroplex so it takes a “fuzzy math” calculation to add up all the “meter readings”.

      • “Enron Wind Systems, part of the Enron group, were manufacturers of wind turbines. The group was formed after Enron acquired Zond Corporation of California in January 1997, which was then the largest US developer of wind-powered electricity.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enron_Wind

        • Wasn’t Enron best remembered for something else ?

          Sadly, IIRC, all the papers relating to the case were kept in the Solomon Bldg WTC7.

  2. The one thing I remember about Houstan is that it has, without doubt, the worst highway system on the planet.
    Driving thru thst city on a rainy day is the closest you will ever get to white knuckle driving. Nor is their system of power production “sustainable.” Studies have demonstrated just how emission heavy are the frequent rebuilds of wind turbines – wind turbines have zero net effect on CO2 reduction. A turbine’s life span is a mere 26 years. There are days during the summer when turbines can’t produce even 5 % of their faceplate capacities.
    Houston has jumped into the most expensive low carbon technologies – and the fact that wind technology (there largest generation technollogy) is, in fact unable to reeduce carbon emissions from it generation, means that Hiuston has achieved practically nothing with respect to lowering emissions overall. They are making false claims – they are ignorant liars. Smal modular motlen salf reactors are withing 6 years of deployment and can reduce their carbon emissions many times what they now are, do not require vast tracts of land for thri turbines and solar farms , are safer and less deadly to the endangered bird of prey population, are more reliable and are far cheaper. Houston’s govt has sold a bill of goodss to a public just as ignorant as they are.

    • “The one thing I remember about Houstan is that it has, without doubt, the worst highway system on the planet.”

      What’s that got to do with Houston?

    • Yeah, sometimes the hideously small keyboards on phones are impossible to type on. The post was entirely understandable, so the peanut gallery can stop throwing shells now. (But I am very, very bad at reading tone, so forgive me if it was just in jest. I simply have no way of knowing.)

      • Most of it is in jest, I would say.

        It’s also one reason why I never post here using a phone.

    • I think Houston has perhaps the best highway system of any US city. It is one of the 3 least congested major cities over 5 million in the nation. Perhaps it’s been a while since you visited?

    • “Houston’s govt has sold a bill of goods to a public just as ignorant as they are.”
      No. Houston’s government has bought a virtue-signaling bill of “renewable” goods that will be paid for with the public’s money. A perfect political bargain.

  3. Hannibal the Cannibal declares himself the leader in vegan cuisine. Remember the fava beans.

  4. “Energy encapsulates far more than oil and gas, from solar to wind. And the City of Houston is all about sustainability.In fact, Houston is a straight-up leader in renewable energy across the United States.That’s right. The City of Houston sources a whopping 92 percent of its power from wind and solar energy”

    To be clear, “The City of Houston” refers to the city government and not to the city.

    • The headline needs to read; The Houston City Government Ranks No. 1 in America in Renewable Energy Use — No, Really

    • I agree. The title is misleading. The City Government is a minuscule fraction of “Houston”

    • So the headline is a lie in my opinion. They should clearly spell out that the Houston BUREAUCRACY runs of expensive power.
      I think I fixed it unless there are further amendments to the motion.

  5. Typing with your elbows again Colonel?

    Ok well thanks for finally giving us the answer about how long it will be before the first MSR is commercially viable. We’ll mark this posting. No later than May 30, 2026.

    • Oh my bad, that prediction was for motlen salf reactors. Probably a few more decades for the molten salt reactors.

  6. “Most of the City of Houston’s power — about 88 percent of it — comes from wind turbine operators, while the rest is sourced from an Alpine, Texas solar farm that spans 350 acres”

    Really? What does Houston do at night when the wind isn’t blowing? I sincerely doubt that 88% of Houston’s power comes from wind and solar at 2AM.

    Where does Houston get its power during a Texas coast hurricane when the high inland winds require shutting down the wind turbines and the solar plant is only running at 20% of capacity because of rain and cloud cover.

    • … comes from wind turbine operators

      So when the wind doesn’t blow, the operators buy electricity from the grid and sell it to the city government.

      • commieBob –

        Your comment got me to thinking: Just how does this scheme work? Most residential electric bills are monthly, I assume commercial bills are the same. So if the city owned electric use is “x” kwhr for a month and the wind turbine operator produced at least “x” kwhr that month, then the city was powered 100% by wind? Is that really what they are saying?

        • I think so. It’s something like Hollywood accounting.

          In the city where I live there are bunches of new houses with solar panels on the roof. They call them ‘net zero’. Of course, they’re hooked to the grid and have no storage. So, it sounds nice and people can virtue signal by buying one at an inflated price.

    • QUESTION: “Really? What does Houston do at night when the wind isn’t blowing?”

      ANSWER: The city govt offices are closed at night.

      • All of them?
        Courts?
        Police?
        Emergency services?
        Fire fighting depots and stations?
        Sewage?
        Potable water?

        Assuming of course, that the article didn’t include power for traffic lights and their control as used
        by the Houston City Government.

        I assume that the alleged City of Houston claim is for a few government buildings only.

        I also assume that the claim is based upon some wind turbines feeding their electricity into the grid. City Government Houston draws their power from the grid, which allows Houston Government to claim 100% renewable energy; whether the wind is blowing that day or not.

        “Most of the City of Houston’s power — about 88 percent of it — comes from wind turbine operators, while the rest is sourced from an Alpine, Texas solar farm that spans 350 acres.”

        350 acres of solar arrays supply 12% of Houston’s City Government energy?
        Utterly fallacious.

        That is the phrase that indicates the article’s author(s) used nameplate energy, not what the renewable energy sources are actually generating.

        And they’re going to rope in another 79 mayors based on these claims?
        I believe that is called fraud.

  7. Houston, you have a problem. A great big Greenie Weenie problem. Virtue signal much?

  8. I assume Houston is like places like Victoria in Australia. We have made our electricity go from one of the cheapest in the world and also unreliable whilst the rest of the world imports our oil, gas, coal and uranium to set up their own reliable and cheaper power supplies. Seems to be a strangely punitive double standard. I personally wouldn’t be boasting how I stuffed up the countryside with acres of hideous machinery which destroys the environment and wildlife whilst making manufacturing uncompetitive and having zero impact on the temperature and global emissions. I’d be frankly embarrassed.
    Nuts!

  9. How disgusting. Cross Texas/Houston off as a decent place to live…

    (and part of that may be that these numbers look like complete fantasies.)

    • The City of Houston is almost as democrat blue as San Francisco with the common sense to match (or lack thereof). Luckily, there is a lot of the greater Houston area that isn’t Houston.

  10. Seriously, the City of Houston govt entity elected to buy their electricity from an electricity seller who in turn pays for juice from Wind and Solar in far west Tx many 100s of miles away. None of those electrons ever make it to Houston. There are no long distance high capacity transmission lines doing that run. The actual power City Hall uses is locally generated by natural gas like the rest of the town uses.

    This is purely the City Hall feeling good about overpaying for juice.

    • I suppose in Dallas, San Antonio or Austin, they can’t make such a claim because Houston already claimed it. Yes indeed…it is sort of like seeing some electric trolley city bus somewhere in lotusland claiming it is powered by 100% renewable energy, but the nearest wind or solar generation is a few hundred miles away and those electrons don’t even make it to the city. It is a usually a paper trading exercise in paying for ‘green energy’ so as they can make a claim about sustainability to fool themselves or others. Usually others.

      The electrons from the wind energy generation 400-500 miles away is going to the nearest load, (or better be) unless it had its own dedicated transmission line to the nearest sub station in Houston and then it would be losing a small but significant amount to lines losses and then ramping up and down with grid levelling input stabilization from a fossil generator in real time that can meet instantaneous demand and avoid collapsing frequency since wind/solar isn’t a Firm electricity product due to intermittency.

      At best, Houston could claim that the wind/solar energy generation state wide represents 92% of their electrical demand. But the average lay person who knows zilch about how a grid really operates goes away with the idea that the wind power is actually powering the city. This is how dishonest information campaigns work.

    • “The actual power City Hall uses is locally generated by natural gas like the rest of the town uses.”

      Are they talking about the whole city of Houston, or just the City Hall infrastructure being powered by unrelable windmills and solar?

  11. It is over well over 500 miles from Houston to Alpine, as the name suggests is at 4481′ altitude according to the state map, basically in the mountains. Don’t know where the closest propellers collecting energy are, but those near Corpus Christi are over 150 miles and there is a nuclear plant in between. The big field obvious on Google Earth is well west of interstate 35 (Fort Worth to Austin). Must have taken lots of wire to get there. We were west of the Pecos a few months ago and they told us they had been having lots of clouds. We barely saw the stars, rare for the area.

    There were a couple of small turbines on the interstate in the 80s between Houston and Galveston, long gone fossils.

    • Hah! Houston caught in the lie. If they are attached to any grid with “conventional” power they are not “sourcing” their power from wind or solar. No combination of wind and solar can maintain a dispatchable power grid. Period. And the rest of the grid for sure includes at least gas fired dispatchable power plants.

  12. The claims of climate warriors like the City of Houston are tiring. Houston city facilities get their power from the grid. There are no direct lines to Houston facilities. The real fact is that the City of Houston is burdening its’ taxpayers with virtue signaling.

  13. I believe all those stats are terribly misleading. Anybody that sourced 100% of their energy from wind and solar would be out of energy much of the time.

  14. I call BS on 88% from wind and solar. It’s statements like this that fool the public into believing the world can use wind and solar to solve their energy needs. A simple check of power plant locations in Texas will show you what really provides the electricity to Houston.

    • Note that the article is not talking about Houston proper but rather the City of Houston city government.

  15. As usual its all a giant charade. The City of Houston contracts with NRG for renewable energy off a renewable energy rate sheet. NRG then purchases power from wind farms 300+ miles away in west Texas and even farther away in Alpine. The city doesn’t consume “green electrons” shipped in from West Texas- it just consumes electrons off the grid produced from the nearest source of generation which is likely from gas fired generation plus coal and nuclear. The renewable generation in West Texas is required to put a volume of generation to the grid which matches the volumes consumed by the City. When the wind quits blowing the renewable generator must purchase power from gas fired generation to put on the grid to honor its contract. Its all just contracts and accounting. Chances are high that the City of Houston consumes zero power actually produced from renewables- because those “green” electrons are being consumed by the nearest load to that generation which is not hundreds of miles away in Houston.

    • At least some Texas utility bills allow you to choose “renewable energy” at higher costs. Selection of electrons?

      • Everyone gets the same mix of electricity from the grid. 100% wind & solar schemes are just greenwashing.

  16. So local governments are spending other people’s money on feel good projects. Big deal.

  17. in what timeframe does this magical 92% occur exactly? And for how long?

    Lets just slice and dice this a bit shall we? If for example at noon on each Wed of the month for .3 seconds 92% of the energy comes from wind and solar…then sure, you could say that, but is it 100% of the time on every day of the month for every second in 24 hours and for every single year? Then no. Total BS.

  18. Direct connect, backups, and a carbon credit scheme? And what is the character of the consumers? Daytime offices, industry, critical services?

  19. In southern Maryland, I pay about 5.8 cents per kwh. It comes from nuclear, coal and gas plants in the vicinity.
    Houston electricity sells for 8 to 13 cents per kwh varying among suppliers. I will stick with my rates for a while at least.

  20. In what way, exactly, are wind turbines and solar ev panels renewable? The 20 year lifespan of these things is barely long enough for them to produce as much energy as went into building them. They are then scrapped and put into landfills.

    Again, how is this renewable?

    It merely subsidy farming.

    • Renewable drivers. Throwaway technology. And, of course, the blight on the environment. Still, it makes for a good quasi-religious (“ethical”) appeal to empathy and a progressive sociopolitical myth.

  21. Here’s the most important paragraph that people casually perusing this article are apt to miss:

    That’s right. The City of Houston sources a whopping 92 percent of its power from wind and solar energy. According to a February EPA report, that impressive percentage ranks it higher in renewable energy use than any other city government in the United States.

    This is their city government, and NOT all the people in the city of Houston that are getting 92% of their energy from renewables. They say 92% of energy and not electricity. Does that other 8% include the gas for the trucks that deliver their office supplies? How about the coal used in the manufacture of their steel desks and shelves? The city might own mostly electric vehicles, but the residents don’t.

  22. 92% Wind and Solar? I would like to see a deep dive on those numbers. My guess is that its as murky as the Gulf Oil Spill.

    • I am confused as to why that comment would be waiting moderation. What word cause stirred pause?

  23. Meanwhile, ove in Blighty

    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52841223
    The go-ahead has been given to the UK’s biggest solar farm, stretching 900 acres on the north Kent coast.

    The government has approved the controversial scheme, which will supply power to 91,000 homes.

    The project could include one of the world’s largest energy storage systems.”

    UK government has renewed its love of energy harvesting.

  24. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/06/from-the-ieee-a-skeptic-looks-at-alternative-energy/#comment-861197
    [excerpt]

    The Capacity Factor for land-based wind power is typically ~20-25%, but it is the Substitution Factor that really measures the usefulness of wind power, and that Substitution Factor can be as low as 4% of installed peak capacity. See Fig. 7 in E-On Netz Wind Report 2005.

    That is, for every 100 units of installed wind power capacity, you can replace only 4 units of conventional energy generating capacity.

    “WIND POWER – IT DOESN’T JUST BLOW, IT SUCKS!”

    Solar power is even worse than wind power, in that solar requires subsidies (paid by the consumer) many times that of wind power.

    “SOLAR POWER – STICK IT WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE!”

  25. What I want to know is who did replace Jonathan E as captain of Houston’s Rollerball team last year since Moonpie was effectively brain-dead after their match with Tokyo the year before?

  26. I live near Houston. We can purchase electricity on the open market from a wide variety of retailers. It is nice because there is competition in the utility. If you want to pay more, you can get a 100% green plan. I ignore them. The 100% green plan is nice while the sun is shining and the wind is blowing at the right speed. All of Houston’s expensive electric vehicles are charged at night when solar is zero and wind is usually lower. I wonder if a good audit of these green plans would show how much energy is actually from more reliable sources.

    • Who would want to pay more for a 100% green plan, when it is known with 100% certainty that you are never guaranteed to get 100% green electrons. Probably get very few, if any, green electrons. I suppose it is reassuring to know you have the opportunity not to buy into the lie that they are telling. Poor OZ and the UK (and many others) doesn’t appear to have that choice anymore.

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