Posts Tagged ‘smart grids’

santaTexas cities are working extra hard this holiday season on efficiency measures of all shapes and sizes. Do you think they’re looking for energy and resource savings, or could this just be a last minute push to make Santa’s “nice” list? In keeping with the holiday spirit, I’ll applaud these cities for good behavior, motives aside.


The Houston City Council approved a $16.4 million contract last week to replace city traffic signals with energy efficient LED lights. The new lights will save the city more than $4 million a year on electricity bills.

Said city mayor Bill White,

“We want to use energy-efficient lighting and make energy-efficient improvements for the same reason that Wal-Mart does, and that is to reduce costs and save money over the long run and to give Houston a competitive advantage.”

The city has several other green initiatives in the works, such as stepping up recycling programs, installing solar panels, buying renewable energy and hybrid vehicles, and establishing new building energy codes.


Houston decided to festoon its official holiday tree with LED lights as well, meaning that this year’s tree will use one-tenth the energy of last year’s spruce.

And last but not least, city officials announced the winners of Houston’s “Recycle Ike!” contest to determine the best way to recycle tree debris from September’s disastrous hurricane. A team of Rice students and scientists won first place for their plan to turn the waste into biomass charcoal (“biochar”) in a pilot bioreactor to be built on campus.


Austinites need not turn green with envy, because our city has recently rolled out some great new initiatives as well.

My favorite is the Pecan Street Project, a new smart-grid project. Says Brewster McCracken, the mayor pro-tem,

“The goal of the Pecan Street Project is to provide one power plant’s worth of clean, renewable energy, and to produce it within the city of Austin.”

A smart grid would allow utilities to deliver energy more efficiently and provide customers with the information to make more efficient energy choices.

For more information on smart grids, check out Kate Galbraith’s post on Green, Inc., the New York Times’ energy and environment blog.

The Austin City Council has also been discussing a new “zero-waste” plan to keep 90% of the city’s waste out of landfills by2040. The Council is slated to vote on the plan this Thursday. I hope they remember that Santa’s watching!



The city of Round Rock is also looking into an ordinance to get customers to consume less water. The ordinance would jack up the cost of water for excessive users during dry summer months, educate people on the need for conservation, and step up conservation efforts citywide.

I’d say all that deserves a holiday “Huzzah”!

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