Last Updated on July 8, 2022 by Mary Pressler
Five Texas Cities Leading the Way in Renewable Energy Efforts
Texas is often associated with the oil and gas industry, but the Lone Star State has also been expanding its wind and solar capacity at a rapid pace. According to the latest data available (June 2022), Texas has more than 38,000 MW of wind power capacity and nearly 14,000 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity.
Here’s 5 Texas cities utilizing renewable energy, and an overview of their main achievements and programs.
Easton Park will be home to the first Tesla solar neighborhood in the US, which is considered the most sustainable residential community in the country. All homes will be equipped with solar roof tiles, Powerwall battery systems, and EV charging stations. The project is being developed by Tesla Energy, Brookfield Asset Management, and Dacra.
The municipal utility Austin Energy has an excellent solar incentive program. Homeowners who install PV systems can qualify for a $2,500 rebate, and the 9.7 cents/kWh Value of Solar credit. To qualify for the rebate, you must take the Austin Energy Solar Education Course, and your PV system must be designed and installed according to program requirements.
Austin Energy also has the Power Partner program, which gives you a $30 rebate when buying and installing a new smart thermostat, and an $85 power bill credit for each smart thermostat enrolled in the program.
The SXSW Center (South by Southwest) has achieved the LEED Gold Certification from the USGBC, and 2-star certification from Austin Energy. The project achieved these certifications thanks to design features like rainwater conservation measures, low-VOC materials, low-flow plumbing fixtures, xeriscaping, recycling measures, a high-performance building envelope, and energy efficiency mechanical systems.
The Q2 Stadium was designed according to LEEDv4 requirements, and it includes multiple green features: rooftop solar power, sustainable transportation options, free bike valet, water stations to reduce plastic usage, efficient HVAC, recycling and waste management measures, and EV charging stations.
Soon, Houston will be home to the largest urban solar farm in the US, with a capacity of 52 MW and scheduled for commercial operation in 2023. The solar farm will use a 240-acre former landfill site, and it will also include a 150-MWh energy storage system. 50 MW of capacity will be used as utility–scale generation, while 2 MW will be used for a community solar project.
The Houston Dynamo Football Club is working with Shell Energy to reduce their carbon footprint by 50% by 2026. Shell Energy will implement energy efficiency measures at the PNC Stadium: LED lighting, efficient HVAC systems, EV charging stations, etc.
Lubbock’s Texas Tech University (TTU) is home to the National Wind Institute, a leading research organization in the renewable energy industry.
- They focus on three pillars: Energy Systems, Atmospheric Measurement & Simulation, and Wind Engineering.
- The NWI offers multiple academic programs: Bachelor of Science in Wind Energy, Wind Energy minor, and Wind Energy certificates.
TTU is the research partner for the Pantex Renewable Energy Wind Project (11.5 MW), which is one of the largest federally-owned wind farms.
Dallas is home to George W. Bush Presidential Center, the first presidential library with the LEED Platinum certification. This is the highest certification level in the USGBC LEED rating system, and the most difficult to achieve. The Bush Center uses green roofing, solar panels, rainwater recycling, and locally-produced building materials. The building is also surrounded by a 15-acre urban park with more than 900 trees.
DFW International Airport is the first carbon neutral airport in the Americas, with ACA Level 4+ certification (Airport Carbon Accreditation). The airport is fully powered by clean electricity from Texas wind farms, and it has implemented energy efficiency measures to reduce its consumption and operating costs. The facility has also saved over 675 million gallons of potable water since 2012.
Lewisville Independent School District (LISD) is among the 11 US school districts who have received an ENERGY STAR award. LISD has been named an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year in the Energy Management category, for two consecutive years in 2021 and 2022.
Lewisville ISD is now benchmarking 100% of its facilities, reaching an average ENERGY STAR score of 88 in 2020. LISD has also achieved ENERGY STAR certification at 62 schools since 2017. The school district has saved over $24 million in utility costs during the last 12 years, avoiding over 167,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
Greenest Governments in Texas
Texas has five cities in the US EPA Green Power Partnership Top 30 Local Government list, along with the DFW International Airport:
- Houston (#1), 100% renewable energy
- Dallas (#2), 100% renewable energy
- DFW International Airport (#4), 102% renewable energy
- Austin (#5), 100% renewable energy
- Denton (#18), 82% renewable energy
- Irving (#22), 50% renewable energy
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