Texas is not exactly known for being “sustainable.” With its lifeblood of oil and gas, it’s more recognized as being big and brash, epitomized by the Dallas TV character J.R. Ewing. However, the Huffington Post recently pointed out that although Texas is home to a robust fossil-fuel industry, it also features some of the most sustainable projects in the nation.
For example, Houston, Texas—the nation’s oil and gas capital—has been quietly luring alternative energy businesses to town. Mayor Annise Parker recently won the Mayors’ Climate Protection Award for her sustainability efforts, continuing her predecessor’s efforts to raise Houston’s renewable and energy efficiency portfolio. Laura Spanjian, the city sustainability director, recently told SolveClimate news that “Houston is looking to the future and we want to show our leadership in the sustainable world.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has already recognized Houston as the top municipal purchaser of renewable “green” energy in the country. Approximately a third of its energy, and that of Austin, Texas, comes from wind farms in West Texas. In fact, the state has the largest number of installed wind projects, accounting for about a quarter of the nation’s total wind capacity.
Whereas San Antonio, Texas, is the only city in the nation to reuse all three wastewater treatment process byproducts of recycled water, organic biosolids and methane gas. The city also boasts the largest direct recycled water delivery system. More than 110 miles of pipeline deliver high-quality recycled water for use by golf courses, commercial and industrial customers, and the famous River Walk.
The largest municipal power and gas utility in the United States is also located in San Antonio. CPS Energy recently opened a “solar farm” south of the city and plans are underway to build a plant to potentially power 80,000 homes.
No matter how it’s generated, energy is still big business in Texas.