Sunday, January 20, 2008

Austin Energy GreenChoice

Austinites were once again able to purchase renewable energy on Monday through Austin Energy's GreenChoice program which was opened up for the fifth batch of customers. Any Austin Energy customer can reduce their carbon footprint by signing up for the program and paying 5.5 cents per kWh, which is fixed until December 31, 2022, rather than the 3.65 cents per kWh for traditional energy. With oil prices reaching $100/barrel, should we hedge our bets now and pay the extra 1.85 cents per kWh for cleaner energy that comes from Austin's own backyard? This "green energy" comes from wind turbines in McCarney and Sweetwater, TX as well as solar installations and gas landfill projects. Round Rock ISD has already made the switch to 100% renewable energy through the GreenChoice program in their 15 RRISD facilities thereby reducing their projected energy costs $2 million over the next ten years.

Austin Energy leads the nation in renewable energy sales ahead of Portland General and Sacramento Municipal Utility District for the third year in a row, made possible by the 352 Austin businesses which have already subscribed to GreenChoice. More than 7,500 Austin residents have also made the switch.

Should we hedge our bets and pay the price to lock in a fixed energy rate on renewable energy? I think locking in a rate on any type of energy would be worth it; the fact that it comes from renewable sources makes it even sweeter. It seems like a no brainer to me.

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