It might seem unorthodox for a red city to go green in the country’s most oil-rich state, but that is exactly what has happened in Georgetown, 30 miles north of Austin.
Despite its small size of 67,000, Georgetown is making a big impression in the world of renewable energy. It has become only the second city in the United States to be run entirely from renewable sources, much to the surprise of its residents.
In an interview with CBC News, Dale Ross, the mayor of Georgetown explained the reasons behind his unconventional decision to go green. Simply put, he said it came down to the numbers.
“In Georgetown, we make our decisions based on the facts,” he said, disputing the controversial claim that coal is “clean.”
Ross didn’t mince his words when expressing his dislike for the current Head of State's environmental stance. “I couldn’t disagree with him more on environmental and energy policy.” In the interview, he offered to enlighten the current U.S. leader on the true facts when it comes to energy.
The mayor may disagree with the environmental decisions coming from the White House, but he is still certainly a proud Republican, and he even attended the inauguration. When asked if he had faced resistance from his community in the heart of oil country, he admitted there was some backlash but that the facts took precedence over “silly national partisan politics.”
Georgetown is now entirely powered by wind and solar energy. If there is one thing that Texas has an abundant supply of - even more so than crude oil - it is sunlight. A 154-megawatt Buckthorn solar plant in West Texas provides Georgetown with its solar power, and a handful of farms elsewhere in the state generate its wind power.
The city got serious about researching eco-friendly energy options after its power contract ended in 2012. Renewable energy was the clear winner in providing stable, fixed-rate pricing for the residents of the Texan city.
The pull for Ross in making the switch was the long-term benefits to consumers. At the moment, the cost of fossil fuels is relatively similar to that of wind and solar power. However, the impact in 25 years is more noticeable.
“Our strategy wasn't to be the lowest cost but to be one of the lowest costs and it was to create cost certainty over 25 years,” Ross explained. “In Texas, it's $2.50 per gallon of gasoline. If I made you an offer that for 25 years I can guarantee you $2.50, would you take it? I would lock in, for sure.”
The mayor is making quite a name for himself and has featured in four documentaries. He says he welcomes anybody to his city who wants to learn more about its story. His positive outlook is inspiring other cities to turn to more eco-friendly energy, although he admits that it is a lengthy and often expensive process.
You may have never heard of Georgetown before, but next time you’re watching an environmental documentary, keep your eyes peeled for this pioneering Texan city.