Purchase increases to 50 percent – largest municipal purchaser in nation
June 20, 2013 -- The City of Houston has signed an agreement with Reliant Energy, an NRG Energy company, to purchase over 140 MW of renewable power for the next two years. From July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015, the City’s purchase of green power will account for half of its annual electricity demand. The City will be using almost 623,000 mWh of green power per year, which is equivalent to the amount of kilowatt-hours needed to power over 55,000 homes each year.
“Houston is already known as the energy capital of the world, but we are committed to becoming the alternative energy capital of the world as well,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “Purchasing green power reduces the environmental impacts of electricity use, decreases the cost of renewable power over time and supports the development of new renewable generation. A triple win for Houstonians.”
This purchase puts Houston as the largest municipal purchaser of renewable power in the nation, and in the top 10 overall in the nation, according to EPA estimates. The City has purchased renewable energy credits (RECs) that are Green-E certified.
Taking advantage of more cost effective and cost competitive REC prices, the City has maintained a relatively flat power price while also increasing its percentage of renewable energy in its portfolio. The City has committed $2 million for this 2-year agreement, less than a $0.01 per kWh on top of the City’s power price.
In addition to investing in wind power, the City, designated by DOE as one of its Solar America Cities, also is active in developing its own solar powered sources of energy:
- With existing installations at the George R. Brown Convention Center, City Hall Annex, Discovery Green, and most recently, the Houston Permitting Center, the City is a test bed for solar technologies. The Green Building Resource Center provides education and shows real-time energy production of its rooftop solar panels.
- With funding from a DOE SunShot Rooftop Solar Challenge grant, the City is working with the Houston Advanced Research Center on streamlining and refining the solar permitting process.
- In the 2013 Texas legislative session, the City worked closely with Keeping PACE in Texas, actively supporting SB 385 (Property Assessed Clean Energy Act) which will provide financing to help property owners break down the financial barriers to installing renewable energy projects.
- The City understands the need for clean, renewable energy is also to offer more reliability during times of extreme weather events. Using grant funding, 17 mobile solar-powered shipping containers/generators were acquired through a partnership with the University of Green Building Components Program and placed at fire stations, parks, neighborhood centers and schools.
- The City is exploring potential ideas that would keep the market moving forward, including a Solar Benefit program. This idea would reduce the complexity and cost of residential solar through a collective group discount program. The program would reach the residential sector via targeted outreach through employer organizations in Houston.
In addition to purchasing green power and building renewable energy projects, the City is also working to reduce its emissions. The City’s municipal operations emissions have realized a 26% decrease from the 2007 greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The City has committed and invested in many programs that reduce cost, improve efficiencies, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Projects such as the municipal energy efficiency retrofit program that upgraded 6 million square feet of the City’s buildings to achieve 30% energy reductions to increasing the City’s hybrid and electric fleet, have helped the City achieve and surpass its Multi-Pollutant Emissions Reduction Plan goals.