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Texas town’s environmental narcissism makes Al Gore happy while sticking its citizens with the bill

January 30, 2019
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By Paul Homewood

 

 

I covered this story of Georgetown last month here.

But there is more detail emerging on just how much local citizens are having to pay for their mayor’s green virtue signalling:

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Political leaders in a college town in central Texas won wide praise from former Vice President Al Gore and the larger Green Movement when they decided to go “100 percent renewable” seven years ago. Now, however, they are on the defensive over electricity costs that have their residents paying more than $1,000 per household in higher electricity charges over the last four years.

That’s right – $1,219 per household in higher electricity costs for the 71,000 residents of Georgetown, Texas, all thanks to the decision of its Republican mayor, Dale Ross, to launch a bold plan to shift the city’s municipal utility to 100 percent renewable power in 2012 when he was on the city council.

In short order, Ross was elevated to celebrity status, appearing in scores of articles and videos, both at home and abroad. Al Gore made it a point to feature the Texas Republican mayor at renewable energy conferences as well. Ross was even featured in one of Gore’s documentaries.

But while Ross was being lauded far and wide, the residents of his town were paying a steep price. His decision to bet on renewables resulted in the city budget getting dinged by a total of $29.8 million in the four years from 2015 to 2018. Georgetown’s electric costs were $3.5 million over budget in 2015, ballooning to $6.3 million in 2016, the same year the mayor locked his municipal utility into 20- and 25-year wind and solar energy contracts to make good on his 100 percent renewable pledge.

By 2017, the mayor’s green gamble was undercut by the cheap natural gas prices brought about by the revolution in high-tech fracking. Power that year cost the city’s budget $9.5 million more than expected, rising to $10.5 million last year, according to budget documents reported by The Williamson County Sun.

Whether Mayor Ross and his colleagues on the Georgetown City Council were motivated by good intentions, political machinations, or mere vanity is unknown. What is known is that Georgetown’s municipal utility, an integral part of the city budget, is hemorraging red ink thanks to those long term renewable energy contracts.

The mayor, who not long ago was approaching ubiquitous status with the media, could not be found by the local press to comment on his city’s budget-busting power deficit.

The deficits were triggered by the drop in natural gas prices—now the mainstay of the U.S. electric grid, having displaced coal—which caused the city to sell its surplus wind and solar power at a steep discount into Texas’ wholesale energy market. City leaders had to lock in a large excess of wind and solar power to be able to lend credibility to their 100 percent renewable claim, since wind and solar power can’t be relied on to keep the lights on 24/7/365. And, even with that surplus, there are times when Georgetown draws traditional fossil fuel power from the Texas grid, making the city’s “100 percent renewable” claim nothing more than spurious sloganeering.

That a city in Texas (which voted for President Trump) claimed to be “100 percent renewable” generated significant “man bites dog” notoriety. But as University of Houston energy expert Charles McConnell noted, “It’s not kind of misleading, it’s very misleading, and it is for political gain.”

Most Texas residents have the ability to choose their electricity provider in a competitive statewide market, leading to electricity prices that are among the lowest in the nation: 18 percent below the national average in 2018, and 48 percent below prices in green energy pacesetter California.

But Texas’ electricity market excludes municipal utilities like Georgetown’s from competition, leaving consumers without choice and allowing political decisions – rather than market forces – to determine the mix of electricity suppliers.

Georgetown is now trying to renegotiate its costly long-term wind and solar energy contracts—this, after the city council agreed to skimp on needed electric infrastructure investment to make up their budgetary shortfall.

Mayor Ross had previously revelled in trolling President Trump, boasting to a German TV show that, “I make decisions based on facts… unlike the president,” then opining that “It was a huge mistake to withdraw from the Paris climate accords…”

One wonders what Mayor Ross thinks about the ongoing unrest in France, initially sparked by a climate change fuel tax hike that has since been rescinded, under pressure, by President Macron.

The mayor, who not long ago was approaching ubiquitous status with the media, could not be found by the local press to comment on his city’s budget-busting power deficit, declining to comment by both phone and email.

Meanwhile, Texas legislators – who are unlikely to wind up on German TV – have the power to introduce a  bill with the potential to free Georgetown’s ratepayers from the city’s electric monopoly, giving them the same ability to shop around for electricity now enjoyed by some 20 million of their fellow Texans.

Wonder what Al Gore will have to say about that?

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/texas-towns-environmental-narcissism-makes-al-gore-happy-while-sticking-its-citizens-with-the-bill

 

 

The current cost of this virtue signalling is now up to $10.5m a year, which is $136 for every man, woman and child in Georgetown.

And, as I noted in my earlier post, the whole 100% renewables claim is a sham anyway, as the city is still reliant on power from the Texas grid.

The only way Georgetown can claim the 100% is to buy so much wind and solar power in advance contracts, as to sure there is enough when there is no wind. But this automatically means that the city has huge surpluses of power at other times during the year.

This surplus has to be sold off, which usually means at a huge loss. After all, when wind and solar power are abundant, market prices fall.

Of course, if every city followed suit and committed to 100% renewables, there would be nobody around to buy up that surplus, as everybody else would be in the same boat.

But at least they’d be able to parade their green credentials!

13 Comments
  1. tim leeney permalink
    January 30, 2019 1:48 pm

    Surely some of the citizens must be shouting by now?

  2. Francis permalink
    January 30, 2019 3:36 pm

    Georgetown, Texas sounds like a mini-version of the province (Ontario) where I live. Except where one reads millions of dollars in the case of Georgetown, for Ontarians it’s billions of dollars.

  3. January 30, 2019 3:44 pm

    You get what you vote for. In this case people voted for somebody who didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t carry out due diligence.

  4. thedude permalink
    January 30, 2019 4:00 pm

    Well, they say there’s two ways to do things: The Texan way and the right way.

  5. January 30, 2019 5:44 pm

    How could this be? After all we are continuously assured by the renewable experts that the cost is well below evil fossil fuels and probably more reliable. Maybe they ought to ask my kids who live in the Midwest if they want to go off coal, gas and nuke today.

  6. Bitter@twisted permalink
    January 30, 2019 5:58 pm

    Virtue-signaling at its most idiotic.
    The citizens of Georgetown need to vote this moron out of office ASAP.

  7. Broadlands permalink
    January 30, 2019 6:17 pm

    “… the whole 100% renewables claim is a sham anyway.” Indeed. There is nothing renewable about something that is replaceable when it becomes unrepairable or outmoded. Where will these citizens put the old solar panels? And what will it cost?

  8. January 30, 2019 6:53 pm

    Another ludicrous showboater putting other people’s money where his mouth is.

    In places with abundant wind and solar resources, like Texas and California, the price of electricity is dipping more and more frequently into negative territory. [2016]

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601221/texas-and-california-have-too-much-renewable-energy/

  9. Jeff permalink
    January 30, 2019 10:58 pm

    Considering all that, the electricity rates Georgetown pays still aren’t too bad.

    Energy Charge (per kWh) 9.58¢

    Power Cost Adjustment (per kWh) 1.75¢

    Customer Charge (per month) $24.80

    https://gus.georgetown.org/customercare/rates/

    Those rates are a dream for me in Australia.

  10. Athelstan permalink
    January 31, 2019 9:22 am

    – 13 in the glens last night, and – 10 in Northumberland.

    Doncha just hate all this global warming?

  11. Gerry, England permalink
    January 31, 2019 1:44 pm

    In the good ole days they would have put Mayor Ross on his horse, taken him out of town to a tree, and removed him from office – permanently.

  12. Athelstan permalink
    January 31, 2019 2:22 pm

    You’ve probably seen this Paul but honest to God this is an outrageous extrapolation based on nothing more than ice core samples and scant historical evidence with some extraordinary hypothecated delusion, I don’t how they take themselves so earnestly, derangement its purblind adherence to clasping at straws “LIA caused by man and trees??” is probably nearer the mark, mind you it is ex the UCL.

    see here beeb and here

    Meanwhile and no doubt, the remoaniacs will blame this on ‘Brexit’ and never the real reason exposed – prohibitive energy costs and thanks to the UK unilaterally imposed industrial suicide pact aka milibands Bryony Worthingtons and FoE drafted 2008 CCA and the entailed carbon floor pricing etc, etc.

    The UK’s largest manufacturer of ceramic wall and floor tiles has gone into administration.

    British Ceramic Tile Limited is based in Newton Abbot in Devon and also has a site in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire.

    It has ceased trading with immediate effect after losing a “key customer contract in recent days”, resulting in 313 redundancies.

    Sad, just one more statistic but for 300 people, we know whom and what they really should blame.

  13. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 1, 2019 10:33 am

    The BBC (radio 5live anyway) is plugging a global warming/renewable energy propaganda event for next week – will probably provide a wealth of opportunities for complaints, if anyone has the time or energy!

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