Clean Power

Published on December 2nd, 2013 | by John Farrell


City-Owned Texas Utility Already Serves 40% Renewable Energy

December 2nd, 2013 by  

Is having local control of a utility the key to ramping up renewable energy?

In 2011, Boulder citizens voted to have their city take over the electric utility, joining 1 in 7 Americans served by municipal electric utilities. Their feasibility study suggests they can more than double renewable energy on their system to over 50%, slashing greenhouse gas emissions. A study in Santa Fe, NM, suggests a similar increase (to 45% clean energy) is possible, while reducing electricity costs. Other cities, like Minneapolis, MN, are also studying the option.

Many of these communities are inspired by examples like Denton, TX, a municipal utility that already gets 40% of its power from renewable energy. The presentation to the Boulder city council is from Mike Grim, the head of the Denton city utility.

Mike Grim Presentation from Boulder, Colorado on Vimeo.

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About the Author

directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (, and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at

  • Wayne Williamson

    Very nice presentation, thanks for sharing….

  • guest

    Meanwhile in Germany….

    “Steag GmbH started Germany’s first new power plant fueled by hard coal in eight years, allowing the generator and energy trader to take advantage of near record-low coal prices that have widened profit margins.”

    • Bob_Wallace

      I guess you don’t know that Germany is in the process of replacing its old, inefficient coal plants with modern super-critical plants.

      Germany’s new coal burning plants are replacing (not adding to) the older plants that either have been or will soon be decommissioned. These new plants were planned and construction was started prior to the decision to close nuclear plants.

      By 2020, 18.5 gigawatts of coal power capacity will be decommissioned, whereas only 11.3 gigawatts will be newly installed.

      Furthermore those plants will be more efficient, releasing less CO2 per unit electricity produced than are the ones they are replacing. And the new coal plants are partially load-following which will further cut CO2 emissions.

      As of November 2013 some 28 power plants with a collective capacity of 7,000 MW – roughly equivalent to the capacity shutdown in Chancellor Merkel’s sudden nuclear phaseout in March 2011 – have been submitted for decommissioning.

      Additionally it looks like renewables have grown faster than anticipated and the 11.3 GW of new plants may be reduced by 3.1 GW.

  • Marion Meads

    You will have to include the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). They are the number 1 customer satisfaction in the entire nation, and they have surpassed the renewables requirement of renewable energy for the utilities of the state of California.

    SMUD is ratepayer community owned, not-for-profit electric service, and it is good that they always reinvest the extra money into renewables and clean energy instead of feeding it to the board of executive hogs and the shareholders, to the chagrin of the likes of PG&E. PG&E are always operating on maximizing profit by fleecing out their ratepayers whenever law allows them, always dragging their feet when it comes to spending money on renewables and only tries to hesitantly implement the minimum effort required by law, but they sure make a big hype in their ads that they are pro-environment. We should transfer the ownership of the utilities back to the ratepayers. The community ratepayers and the government should buy them out.

    SMUD is the best model in the entire nation.

  • David

    Too bad just outside Denton is a natural gas drilling bonanza. Take a look west of Denton on Google maps, it looks like a pin cushion.

  • agelbert

    Excellent! The money savings is in Renewable Energy harvested near the user, the more distributed, the greater the energy efficiency per collected kilowatt.

    Smart people follow the Renewable Energy Money. Dumb people talk nonsense about “gross output” of nuclear power plants while they studiously ignore massive transmission losses and really massive energy costs of baby sitting “used” fuel rod assemblies for at least a century. A fuel rod assemby lasts, get this, about 6 to 8 years, period. Anyone that tells you they are “carbon neutral” is a liar.

    A MW of solar or wind power collected near the user is worth much, much more than a MW of fossil fuel or nuclear power from a centralized power plant hundreds of miles from the user.

    But that doesn’t stop clever intelli-morons from trying to wow ignorant people about the “massive concentration of energy (poisonous energy)” you can get from the “non-intermittent” (LOL!)” nuclear and fossil fuel centralized, poisonous, water hogging and water polluting, rate rigging, investor favoring, “privatized” power corporations.

    Renewable Revolution

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