In his March 7, 2017, Around the Nation segment on National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered," Mr. Ari Shapiro sought an answer to a seemingly unanswerable question:
“How is it,” he asked, “this city at the center of conservative red state, Republican America, became one of the first cities in the country to be entirely powered by renewables?”
The decision made Georgetown, Texas, population 50,000, the largest city in the U.S. to go to 100% renewable sources for its electricity.
The process started when the city’s power contract was up for renewal in 2012. The city realized that the price stability was much better for renewables versus fossil sources for electricity, looking forward 25 years, and going for long-term price stability fit the fact that a lot of Georgetown residents are retirees who live on fixed incomes.
Chris Foster, who manages the city’s energy usage, presented a bunch of options to the city. They decided, in 2015, to go to 100% renewables, and now, in 2017, they’ve met their 100% green goal. At the time of the decision however, Chris Foster reports, the question came up “Would you like to tell anybody?” Foster added that they debated about it, initially concerned about the need to retain Georgetown’s reputation as a conservative place.
Mayor Reed also mentioned that going 100% green became “a great economic development tool, because there are a lot of high quality companies in this country that have robust green energy programs, like Walmart.” Georgetown’s Walmart store “report to their headquarters that they are 100% green,” to headquarters in Benton Arkansas.
Mayor Reed says that former Texas Governor (now head of the DOE) Rick Perry deserves credit, pointing out that it was under Perry’s leadership that the transmission lines were put in place which ultimately connected the wind farms in West Texas to the panhandle. “I truly believe he was a visionary…if the state hadn’t put those transmission lines in place, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.”
The NPR audio file is available for download or streaming at this link.