Renewable Energy to Stabilize Texas Schools

The Austin Independent School District will make the largest purchase to date of renewable energy from Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program with 45 million kWh annually of green power — almost double the previous largest subscription in Austin. The AISD subscription – which will account for 30 percent of all of its electricity -is enough to power 3,750 homes year-round.

Austin, Texas – November 13, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] While other educational institutions subscribe to green power, the AISD subscription is considered by far the largest by a school district anywhere in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “In 2000-2001, the Austin School District had to double our utility budget because natural gas prices doubled. This agreement with the City of Austin locks in our GreenChoice energy at a fixed price through 2011. For a school district that’s living on a “fixed income,” and with all of the uncertainty about the future of school finance in Texas, GreenChoice is a very wise investment for Austin schools,” Superintendent Pat Forgione said. Austin residents, businesses and organizations subscribed to more renewable energy last year than any other city in the country, according to the Department of Energy. The 251 million kWh sold by Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program last year were more than that sold in the second and third ranked cities combined. “Today’s announcement continues the Austin School District’s Clean Air Initiative. The program to improve the quality of air we breathe will help keep students healthy, protect our environment and make the best use of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars,” Austin School Board Vice President Ingrid Taylor said. Austin Energy has contracted for the electricity from about 76 MW of wind-powered generators in West Texas and for about 10 MW of electricity generated using methane gas from landfill projects in San Antonio and Austin. Another 10 MW of wind is contracted from the Lower Colorado River Authority. Last month, the Austin City Council approved the purchase of an additional 93 MW of wind power to be built by 2005. Those projects will enable Austin Energy to meet the Council goal of deriving five percent of its generation from renewable sources by 2005. More than 7,000 residents, 37 of Austin’s largest companies and organizations, and 225 small businesses have subscribed to GreenChoice since its inception in January 2000. Austin Energy was one of the first utilities in the country to lock in rates for green power subscribers – currently until 2011 – as a hedge against the rising cost of fossil fuels. “This action by AISD delivers a strong and positive statement that using renewable energy and protecting our health and our environment are an important part of the daily life of our children, schools, homes, businesses and community,” Austin Mayor Will Wynn said. While Austin Energy could purchase all of its renewable energy on the Texas market and resell it to customers, it has chosen instead to help create new sources of renewable energy in Texas. This will help spur the development of the clean energy industry especially in Austin. Austin Energy is ranked fifth in the country for creating new sources of green power, according to the Department of Energy.

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