Hurricane Harvey Puts The Texas Trees Foundation’s Work Into Context

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – At the time of writing this story, Hurricane Harvey is hitting Texas with severe weather; it’s the first major hurricane to hit Texas in nine years and has been devastating—"an unprecedented" weather event. The storm puts the work of the Texas Trees Foundation into context, which has released findings from the 2017 Dallas Urban Heat Island

Texas Breaks the Mold and the Record with Wind Power

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Check out any old western movie and you’re bound to see tumbleweeds rolling across the open prairie. One thing we learned from those old films that beside cowboys and Indians, outlaws and sheriffs, two other things that Texas had, and still has a lot of, is open space and wind.

The open space gave rise to a booming cattle ranching industry long ago, though it has been suffering recently from a drought that has cost farmers and ranchers billions. The move to exploit the state’s abundant wind resource came more recently.

They did that through the construction of massive wind farms. We tend to associate renewable power with liberals and environmentalists, not something you’d expect to see a lot of in oil and gas-rich Texas. But it happened anyway. It didn’t just happen, of course. There were strong state government incentives that somehow survived administration changes that went from the liberal Ann Richards, to conservatives like George W. Bush and Rick Perry. It’s a model that few other states have followed, though many more could benefit from.

In fact, it’s the drought, which scientists agree is at least indirectly caused by climate change (since warmer temperatures increase the likelihood of drought), that, having brought those farmers and ranchers to the brink of disaster, has also led to their enthusiastic embrace of wind power. Many farmers now say it's the only way they've been able to hold onto their land.

“We rarely talked about the environment,” recalls Michael Osborne, co-founder of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA) and developer of the state’s first wind farm in the early 1990s. “We talked about farmers and ranchers getting rich on windmills.”

The regular income generated by wind turbines keeps the lights on in ranchers’ homes, regardless of how their herds might be faring.  Annual land lease payments last year, which went mostly to farmers and ranchers were in excess of $60 million.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA), Texas has six of the ten largest wind farms in the nation. The largest is the Roscoe Wind Farm, some 220 miles west of Dallas which also happens to be the largest in the world. It consists of 627 turbines, spread across 100,000 acres that produce 781.5 MW. That’s enough electricity to power 265,000 homes.

But Roscoe is one of many wind farms. Altogether, there are 11,592 wind turbines currently installed (likely more by the time you read this) in Texas with a combined capacity of 20,321 MW. In the year ending last October, wind power was responsible for 12.68% of the total electricity production in the state. That’s a new record.

Texas Leads Nation in Wind Power For Reasons Both Natural and Manmade

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Texas does not necessarily come to mind as the first state you think of when it comes to alternative energy, or alternative anything else, for that matter. Yet, despite their long and proud history as an oil state, Texas leads the nation in wind power, one of the fastest-growing forms of alternative energy.

ACEEE Ranks World’s Largest Economies on Energy Efficiency

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - We see a lot of analyses and projections showing why renewables, despite their rapid growth will not be able to provide sufficient energy to allow us to get off fossil fuels or nuclear for decades to come. Those analyses are based on assumptions regarding population growth, economic development and rate of energy consumption on a per capita basis.

But if you look at disparities in energy consumption, not just the obvious ones—developed vs. developing countries, but rather between countries and states with similar quality of life, we can see that there are still tremendous opportunities to be in exploited with regard to how efficiently we use energy. As an example, the state of Texas, uses 50% more energy than California, despite California’s 48% larger population.

If forecasts and projections were based on the best populations, who are bound to get even better, rather than the average, these renewable goals might begin to look far more achievable

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) just completed a ranking of the 16 largest economies in the world. Results are somewhat surprising. The US, which likes to think of itself as technologically advanced, actually ranked 13th out of 16, while China, despite its sizeable growing pains, managed to achieve a 4th place rank.

Below is the list in order.

1.            Germany                

2.            Italy

3.            EU

4.            China

5.            France

6.            Japan

7.            UK

8.            Spain

9.            Canada

10.          Australia

11.          India

12.          South Korea

13.          US

14.          Russia

15.          Brazil

16.          Mexico

The ranking are based on thirty-one metrics, divided between policy metrics, which they call national efforts (e.g. national energy savings target, fuel economy standards) and performance metrics (e.g.  Average mpg, energy per square foot in buildings). State and local policies were not included. Performance metrics were divided between Buildings, Industry, and Transportation. These four categories were equally weighted, receiving 25 points apiece.

A Voice in the Desert: Texas Beckons Sustainable Investment in Wind Energy

“Everybody thought I had a duster. Y’all thought ol’ Spindletop Burke and Burnett was all the oil there was, didn’t ya? Well, I’m here to tell you that it ain’t, boy! It’s here, and there ain’t a dang thing you gonna do about it!

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