Houston Leads in Wind Energy Use

Houston is second only to the U.S. Air Force in its wind energy consumption. One quarter of all the electricity used by city-owned facilities comes from wind. City General Services Director Issa Dadoush says the city consumes a total of about 1.3 billion kilowatt hours per year.

"The city pays approximately $160 million per year in electricity costs, that's about $400,000 dollars every day. Our job over here is to manage our risk better and wind energy gives us that tool to manage our electricity portfolio much better. It gives us consistency in price over a long period of time."

The city was able to lock in a rate of 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for the next five years on wind energy.

Dadoush says the city started switching to wind after Hurricane Katrina, when natural gas prices went up.

"Even at that time, the prices were -- based on historical data it was pretty high. And it jumped from $5.76 per million BTUs in late 2005 to as high as $16. The market became so volatile, we made a decision that we want to have diversity in our electricity portfolio. In a nutshell, we didn't want to have all our eggs in one basket."

To that end, the city is also dabbling in solar energy. The Department of Energy recently named Houston a Solar America City. That designation includes grant money to expand the solar energy program.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
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