What’s the ‘Clean Energy Capital of the US?’

Folks in Austin, TX, plan to find out. The group Solar Austin, with a grant from the Department of Energy, has created the Energy Freedom Challenge, which is “…a race to see which city in the U.S. can be the first to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources like wind, solar, geo-thermal, methane and biomass power by the year 2025.” Austin itself, which will host the contest for the next twenty years, plans to be a front-running competitor:

Right now Austin receives 5 percent of its energy from either wind, solar or landfill methane power; well short of hitting the 50 percent mark.

Austin can expect plenty of competition from other cities for the clean energy title, [Solar Austin Co-Director Jane] Pulaski said.

“Places like Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago, New York, New Jersey,” Pulaski said.

The Union of Concerned Scientists will be in charge of establishing the rules, metrics and qualifications for the contest.

Solar Austin expects to have cities signed up to compete by early next year. Austin will be both the host and a competitor in the first year.

Austin’s Green Choice program already sells more renewable energy to customers than any other program in the country.

What a cool idea! Perhaps something like this could get other cities (like, say, St. Louis) more involved in renewable energy development. Cities do like cool titles…

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