Texas city featured in Al Gore film lost millions in green energy investments
A green energy scheme to supply a small town in Texas with 100% of its electrical needs via cheap solar and wind power is, instead, costing the city almost $7 million.
Georgetown, Texas was featured in the sequel to Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth as the "future" of American power generation. But falling fossil fuel prices are making the scheme ruinously expensive for the town.
"It's costing them big time," Bill Peacock, vice president of research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. "This doesn't appear to be the first time they've lost money, just the first time it was big enough to have to go public with it."
"I think Georgetown is already a trailblazer," Gore said during his 2016 visit to learn about Georgetown's plan to get 100 percent of its energy from wind and solar power.
"And one thing that Georgetown demonstrates to other places that are just beginning to think about it is that the power supply is not only more affordable, the cost is predictable for at least 25 years into the future and really beyond that," Gore said.
Oh, really, Al? I bet Georgetown wishes it had never heard the term "green energy":
Georgetown began its shift toward 100 percent wind and solar energy several years ago, and the city says it reached that goal in July after the Buckthorn solar plant went online. The city owned utility contracts with Buckthorn and the Spinning Spur 3 wind farm for all its power needs.
Georgetown Utility Systems contracted to buy wind and solar at fixed prices until 2035 and 2043, respectively. Georgetown is obligated to buy about twice as much power as it actually needs from green power plants. The city is the first in Texas and the second-largest in the U.S. to go 100 percent renewable.
The idea was that Georgetown would have enough green power to grow into at fixed prices, avoiding market volatility and what it saw as the rising costs of fossil fuels. In the meantime, Georgetown would sell any excess power back to Texas' electricity market.
But energy prices plummeted in recent years, particularly natural gas prices, meaning the city lost money selling power back to the market. Georgetown Budget Manager Paul Diaz told city councilors in late November the utility had lost $6.84 million. City officials are looking for ways to make up the shortfall.
"[Georgetown Utility Systems] is in the process of opening negotiations with our current energy suppliers to adjust the terms of our contracts," City Councilman Steve Fought wrote in an email to constituents.
Putting solar panels on your home or office is probably a good bet. As long as you have reliable alternate fossil fuel sources to fall back on, your energy costs will probably be less.
But when you start fooling around with generating solar power on an industrial scale, you are always going to run into problems. Spain is a prime example and a case study in the failure of solar to deliver on its grandiose promises made by the Al Gores of the world.
That's not to say that solar power won't ever reach its potential to supply cheaper, cleaner electrical power. Solar cells are getting more efficient all the time, and perhaps in a decade or two, it will make economic sense for urban areas to convert to mostly solar power.
But even with massive government subsidies, solar power fails to deliver. Not only do these subsidies skew the market, but they also help choose winners and losers in the solar industry. As we saw during the Obama years, the "winners" usually end up being the companies that supported Democrats in elections.
Al Gore deserves all the criticism he gets. In this case, he deserves to be laughed at.