Here’s a bizarre tale from Texas:
According to a recent report in Forbes, the Texas town of Georgetown paid EDF, a company that’s 84.5% owned by the French government, for their own electricity.
Buckle up, because this gets confusing.
At least 57 times in 2017, and many more last year, Georgetown’s residents paid EDF, a company owned 84.5% by the government of France, around 6 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced in the middle of the night when demand was low—so low, in fact, that because of tax incentives and government subsidies, the price for power was negative.
This means that the electricity cost more than it was worth. And because the worthless electricity wasn’t being used, they had to pay to have the extra electricity taken “off their hands.”
In the typical home, heating and cooling account for about 50% of energy use, and late at night, most people turn their heat and air conditioning way down — along with the rest of their electronics. As a result, green energy systems like wind farms may produce lots of electricity when there is no demand for it. Unfortunately, storing all that extra power isn’t easy, or cheap.
And that’s how Texas taxpayers ended up sending money to the French government, if indirectly.
For green energy advocates looking for a green energy success story, this isn’t it.
You can find 60 different types of soil throughout the massive state of Texas, and buried within that soil there are vast reserves of oil and natural gas. However, Georgetown recently decided to embrace the green energy movement.
A few years ago, under the direction of major Dale Ross, Georgetown decided to go renewable. A story on Georgetown.org claims that the city became 100% renewable after receiving electricity from a large solar plant in West Texas, “making Georgetown one of the largest cities in the U.S. to be 100 percent renewable.” Yet Forbes reports that the city still generates 36% of its power with natural gas; the rest does come from renewable sources like wind and solar.
Of course, with the green energy movement in its infancy, there are still some kinks to work out, as the 57 payments to EDF prove.
Still, despite its reputation as a gas and oil state, Texas has made baby steps toward green energy. Regardless of inefficiencies in the system, Georgetown has made important strides in green energy consumption.