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Climate Heroes

Climate Protection Award winners have been announced and Texas is deep in the mix, with both Austin Energy and former Dallas mayor Laura Miller receiving recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There is a lot of Deep Green Think happening in and around San Antonio’s City Hall these days. Will 2009’s climate awards find San Antonio leaping into the national spotlight? A lot rides on the coming mayoral election,  the City's recovery of its utiltiy's reins, and international energy trends. But any real gains will only come with a continued perseverance on the part of the San Antonio public.

Those who will be serving on the various task forces being established to shepherd SA into a new era of smart energy use in transportation, housing, and renewables development, have begun to receive their draft cards. Will there be enough new blood running through the Old Guard's veins to make the many needed (and, in some cases, painful) switches? We will see.

Before we put too much time into greening our suburbs, we must find the financial means of launching a green workforce to patch and mend our thousands of lower-income homes that make a mockery of insulation.

The community gardens are taking root. There is so much potential in this simple concept. Can we do the same with community power generation, I wonder?

'09 nomination forms, anyone?


From the EPA Awards press release:

Austin Energy (AE), the 10th largest public power utility in the United States, is nationally recognized for its dedication to climate protection. Over the last twenty five years, AE's energy efficiency and conservation programs have saved more electricity than the annual output of a 500 megawatt power plant. Through energy conservation and efficiency, AE has been able to forego new plant construction, close one plant, and help keep consumer energy bills low. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the US DoE named AE an ENERGY STAR partner of the year in 2005 and 2006, recognizing AE's Home Performance ENERGY STAR program as one of the best in the nation. In 2006 alone, over 5,000 Austin residents participated in the Home Performance program which avoided emissions of more than 4,500 tons of CO2 and 4 tons of nitrogen oxides and collectively reduced energy use annually by 7.8 million kilowatt-hours. The EPA also recognized AE for its Combined Heating and Power Partnership for the Mueller Energy Center.

AE supports green power, green building, and green vehicles as well. AE's GreenChoice program has been the top utility-sponsored green power sales program in America five years in a row, providing more than 580 million kilowatt-hours in 2006. AE offers its customers one of the most competitive photovoltaic rebates in the country, at $4.50 a watt. This pays for approximately 45% to 75% of the cost of installing a solar system. AE's award winning Green Building Program reduced peak energy demand. In a typical year, this program reduces the amount of CO2 from the air as planting 17,900 trees and the same amount of nitrous oxides as removing 870 vehicles from the roadways. AE also supports the Plug in Partners Campaign promoting plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and is working to demonstrate a Toyota Prius that achieves 100 miles per gallon. By 2020, AE is on track to offset the need for a 700 megawatt power plant through energy efficiency and load shifting initiatives, provide 30% of its generation portfolio with renewable energy, and achieve 100 megawatts of solar power …


City of Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, through sheer determination and organizational and persuasive leadership, led a group of Mayors representing 36 Texas cities, counties and school districts to form the Texas Clean Air Cities Coalition (TCACC) that successfully protested the approval of 17 new coal-fired power plants that would have added well over one hundred million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere each year. Mayor Miller and the Coalition challenged the approval of the additional coal plants in order to preserve Texas air quality, keep the areas of Waco, Austin and East Texas from going into non-attainment, and to lower carbon emissions. In particular, the TCACC intervened against TXU's eight proposed coal units across Texas that would have added 30,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, over 115 million tons of CO2, and nearly 4,000 pounds of toxic mercury each year. Due to the Coalition's efforts, the Administrative Judges allowed discovery regarding carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. This ruling presented the first of its kind during Texas permitting processes. TXU subsequently cancelled the construction of all eight of its plants. Miller, a former journalist who served as Mayor from 2002 to 2007, is now working as Director of Projects Texas with Colorado-based Summit Power to build the first commercially viable IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) power plant with CCS (Carbon Capture and Sequestration) in the United States.

Posted by Greg Harman on 7/3/2008
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