The Other Windy City

Surprising Austin suburb shines as U.S. leader in renewable energy

Surprising Austin suburb shines as U.S. leader in renewable energy

Red Poppy Festival
Georgetown is one of only five cities in the country to run on 100 percent renewable energy. Photo courtesy of City of Georgetown

When you think of renewable energy in the metro area, Austin likely is the first place that pops into your mind. After all, Austin is the largest U.S. city where all municipally-owned buildings and facilities are powered by renewable energy.

However, the Williamson County suburb of Georgetown actually outshines the Capital City when it comes to renewable energy. According to Daily Kos, a liberal-leaning political website, politically conservative Georgetown is one of only five U.S. cities that have met the goal of running solely on renewable energy — in Georgetown’s case, wind and solar power.

Currently, Georgetown is the only city in Texas that operates with 100 percent renewable energy; this encompasses everything from homes and offices to the local Walmart store and all the shops in the quaint town square. At one point, Georgetown could claim it was the largest U.S. city in that category, until it was pushed aside by Las Vegas.

Georgetown has already garnered international attention for its commitment to renewable energy.

For instance, former Vice President Al Gore, a prominent environmental activist, highlights the city’s renewable-energy push in his new documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel. And Gore visited Georgetown to speak at the 2017 conference of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance on October 24, a little over a year after the former VP, a Democrat, went there to check out the city’s renewable-energy efforts for himself.

During a visit in 2016, Gore called Georgetown a “trailblazer” in renewable energy.

Two years ago, leaders in Georgetown vowed to provide 100 percent renewable energy by 2017. Georgetown’s biggest renewable-energy cheerleader is Dale Ross, the city’s Republican mayor. Ross and his fellow city leaders have delivered on their energy promise, which is aimed at saving money and reducing pollution.

Georgetown’s renewable energy movement contradicts the pro-coal policies adopted by the Trump administration, a reality that’s not lost on Ross.

“When Trump was campaigning, he was talking about clean coal and we’re going to bring coal jobs back? That is a mirage, that is not going to happen,” Ross recently told The Guardian. “Coal is one of the most expensive forms of fossil fuels to produce. And those jobs are never going to come back, ever. They’re done.”

Today, Ross is unabashedly a champion of renewable energy — not coal and other fossil fuels — in Georgetown and beyond.

“We’ve got an endless supply of wind and sun,” the mayor told a video blogger earlier this year. “I’ll take that bet over fossil fuels, any day of the week.”