This is what America’s eco city of the future looks like

This is what America’s eco city of the future looks like

Dale Ross is the mayor of Georgetown, population 65,000, and he has become a minor celebrity in environmental circles as a result of a pioneering decision in 2015 to get all the city’s electricity from renewable sources.

Georgetown’s location in oil-and-gas-centric Texas and Ross’s politics add to the strangeness of the tale. The mayor is a staunch Republican at a time when a Republican president – and his Environmental Protection Agency administrator – reject the scientific consensus on climate change and are trying to revive the declining coal industry.

Ross has appeared in a National Geographic documentary, a forthcoming film about clean energy for HBO directed by James Redford (son of Robert) and in this year’s follow-up to An Inconvenient Truth, which saw the advocate and former vice-president Al Gore visit Georgetown.

The day after we met at city hall, just off Georgetown’s charming main square, Ross was set to fly to Utah to introduce a screening of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Then it was on to Las Vegas to reunite with Gore, a fellow speaker at National Clean Energy Summit, an event co-hosted by Reid, a Democrat from Nevada. Next week, a conference in Oakland, California. Next month, a green energy panel in Nova Scotia.

“You should see the fan mail that I get, especially with the movies,” Ross grinned. The 58-year-old said the decision to follow the lead of Burlington, Vermont – the first US city to run solely on renewable energy – was not the product of liberal do-gooder vapours wafting up Interstate 35 from nearby Austin. It was based on cold-eyed pragmatism, the fruit of the kind of careful numerical analysis he performs in his day job as a certified public accountant.

The revolution is here,” he said. “And I’m a good little Republican, a rightwing fiscal conservative, but when it comes to making decisions based on facts, that’s what we do.”

The facts, Ross said, are that when Georgetown negotiated power supply deals the cost was about the same between natural gas and wind and solar, but the natural gas option would provide only a seven-year guaranteed contract whereas 20-25 year proposals were on the table from renewable providers.

Georgetown officials decided to lock in a long-term rate to eliminate price volatility, mindful of the risk that future government actions might send fossil fuel costs soaring.

Source: The Guardian

Date: December 2017

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