Consumer Choice Program | LED Lights | Power to People Campaign | Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan | Residential Energy Efficiency Program (REEP ) | Vending Misers | Energy Star Homes | Solar-Power
Consumer Choice Program - The City unveiled a website - www.houstonconsumerchoice.com - dedicated to informing Houstonians about options they have in purchasing power at a time when electricity rates have skyrocketed, and allow consumer to compare traditional energy with "green energy."
The City recently asked electricity providers to offer their "best price" for Houston consumers. The City of Houston required all responding electricity providers to meet some standard of financial strength, and to keep their offers open to Houstonians.
Seven power providers are participating with the City in the program. Some offer several different types of products, with both variable and fixed pricing and "green" and conventional electricity. A customer's choice of providers will not affect the reliability of their service. A separate company, Center Point Energy is responsible for that.
A user-friendly "calculator" allow consumers to explore service options and rates from the participating providers. In addition, help with the web site is available at all Houston Public Libraries, City Multi-Service Centers and other community facilities.
LED Lights - The City of Houston has taken an active role to reduce the amount of energy used in the city. The City is changing city traffic lights from using traditional incandescent bulbs to more efficient LED lights (light emitting diode). The City has switched over 300 traffic lights to LED from the traditional incandescent traffic lights. In addition, the City plans to retrofit all remaining traffic lights, and requires all new signals within the city to be LED. The LED traffic lights use 85% less energy than the traditional incandescent lights. Additional benefits include reduced emissions; cost savings to the Public Works Department and reduced maintenance time and expenses, and LED traffic lights have significantly lower replacement costs. Also, the LED traffic lights emit colored light instead of white light filtered through a color lens, as the traditional incandescent traffic lights do, enhancing overall visibility of each traffic light leading to increased safety.
Furthermore, the City of Houston is changing all exit signs in city buildings to LED lights. Exit signs in City buildings will use LED's as the main light source. This technology uses less than two watts per sign, and is rated at 100,000 hours (more than 11 years at 24 hours per day), and contributes virtually no heat to the system.
Power to People Campaign - Mayor Bill White joined officials from Centerpoint Energy, Wal Mart, Sam's Club and other corporate sponsors to launch a campaign designed to educate Houstonians on options to reduce energy consumption and save money this summer. The residents of Houston have the power to do something about the rising cost of energy. Simply put, by changing our practices we can save real dollars. And if we all act, the benefits from smart energy consumption pay dividends for the city as a whole.
The education campaign began with volunteers going door-to-door to homes in the Houston area handing out 10,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs. Displays were also set up at retail outlets throughout the Houston area to provide information on steps Houstonians can immediately and inexpensively take to minimize energy consumption in their homes.
The second phase of the program is a permanent educational tool for residential energy efficiency. Residents are encouraged to log on to the website at www.houstonpowertopeople.com for options to save money. This website encourages and educates Houstonians to take five simple steps to reduce their energy. Energy saving calculators were created for resident to calculate the personal savings that they can expect by following each of the five simple steps.
Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan - The City of Houston has purchased over 350 million kWh of wind energy, making Houston the largest municipal purchaser of renewable power. The renewable wind power contract gives the City of Houston the ability to bring in up to 80 megawatts, or just over 700 million kWh, of renewable power which represents 50% of the City's total power. This would embody the highest purchase of green energy by any governmental entity, including federal agencies when accomplished. The design of the contract includes a negotiated structure that comprises third party wholesalers, Reliant Energy, the Government Land Office, and City of Houston to transact long-term wind power. The strategy will be to purchase wind power in 10-megawatt increments for 5-year terms at competitive prices. Through this innovative contract the City is able to purchase clean energy at a lower price compared to traditional energy. The current price for the City's energy is fixed at 7.5 cents per kWh.
Residential Energy Efficiency Program (REEP) - The City of Houston has many neighborhoods with small, older homes that lack modern energy efficient features. To combat this, the City has initiated a weatherization program as part of its neighborhood revitalization campaign. The most effective long-term strategy for reducing energy consumption is to invest wisely in more efficient energy use. Therefore, the City of Houston , in partnership with CenterPoint Energy, began this program weatherizing homes within the City. In the initial target neighborhood, most homes were 40 to 60 years old. All of the homeowners were contacted and offered the opportunity to have their homes weatherized; including caulking, weather-stripping, replacing five of the most frequently used light fixtures with compact fluorescent lamps, and attic insulation of 9 inches. The program has bee greatly successful and is currently being expanded to an additional 1000 homes.
Vending Misers - Refrigerated vending machines consume a significant amount of energy to supply cold, refrigerated products. A typical machine that dispenses 500 12-oz cans with an illuminated front, consumes between 7 and 11 kWh hours a day in an office setting. Because of the sheer number of vending machines in City of Houston properties, they were identified as possible source of energy conservation.
The City of Houston purchased 285 energy efficient devices for beverage vending machines in City-owned and operated facilities and parks. The devices, called Vending Misers, reduce energy consumption by powering down the machine when the surrounding area is vacant. In addition, the City purchased 50 new ENERGY STAR rated vending machines. Together these energy saving devices will reduce the City's vending machine electricity consumption by 40 to 50 percent. This represents an annual savings of $34,712 or $98 per machine, and will reduce annual CO 2 emissions by 277 tons.
Energy Star Homes - The City of Houston is dedicated in leading the County with energy efficient homes. The City understands that a person's home is probably the biggest investment they will make, so it makes sense to purchase a home that meets high-energy performance guidelines, which will result in lower energy costs through energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR qualified homes use less energy than homes built to the Texas residential building code, are third-party tested, and provide homeowners with a better lifestyle for less money. The City of Houston continues to lead the way in energy efficient homes. The City of Houston has more ENERGY STAR qualified homes than any other U.S. city.
Solar-Power - The Department of Energy (DOE) has designated the City of Houston as a solar city. Houston has been selected as one of 12 cities to be recognized. Houston was chosen for its commitment and comprehensive approach to the deployment of solar technologies.
This designation makes available a grant for $200,000 in funds to the City of Houston from the DOE along with access to their technical resources to develop a strategy and plan for solar infrastructure in the region. BP Solar, a key partner in the proposal, will provide an additional $200,000 in solar panels to the City of Houston as part of the matching requirement for the grant.
Residents need not look any further then downtown to see solar power at work. Recently, downtown parking meters have been changed out for solar power, electronic meters. This is just the beginning of solar power use in the City of Houston . Solar panels now sit on top of the City Hall Annex building, and the City's Code Enforcement Building at 3300 Main . These panels will produce approximately 24000 kWh annually.