The City of Houston has signed an agreement with Reliant Energy to purchase 140MW of renewable power for the next two years. The 140MW power purchase represents approximately 50 percent of the city’s required power and is the equivalent of power required for over 55,000 homes each year. Reliant is a subsidiary of NRG Energy Inc., which has headquarters in both New Jersey and Houston.
This deal makes Houston the largest municipal purchasers of renewable power in the nation, according to EPA estimates. Houston has purchased renewable energy credits that are “Green-E” certified. By doing so, Houston has maintained a flat power price while increasing its percentage of renewable energy in its portfolio. Houston has committed $2 million for this two-year agreement.
Houston has been very actively pursuing renewable energy as of late. According to an article by Power Engineering, the City of Houston has been designated by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of its “Solar America Cities.” With funding from a grant from the DOE “SunShot Rooftop Solar Challenge,” Houston is working with the Houston Advanced Research Center on streamlining and refining the solar permitting process. The SunShot Initiative is a national effort by the Department of Energy to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade.
According to a report by the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center in 2011 concluded that by 2030, improvements in energy efficiency and expanded solar power in the Houston area could reduce demand for electricity from fossil fuel by enough to power 627,000 Houston homes. Houston has focused on building “net-zero” energy homes as a way to reduce pollution. By 2030, net-zero energy homes could avoid the need for more than six billion kWh of electricity from fossil fuel sources per year through energy efficiency and electricity generated from solar panels.
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