Why One Conservative Texas City Went 100% Renewable | Hot Mess 🌎

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Peril & Promise is a public media initiative from WNET telling human stories of climate change and its solutions. Learn more at: www.pbs.org/wnet/peril-and-promise/
Georgetown, TX is a conservative city in the middle of oil and gas country that's committed to 100% renewable energy, and we could learn a lot from them.
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Special thanks to the city of Georgetown and Mayor Dale Ross.
Host/Writer/Editor-In-Chief: Joe Hanson, Ph.D.
Creative Director: David Schulte
Editors/Animators: Derek Borsheim
Producers: Stephanie Noone & Amanda Fox
Story Editor: Alex Reich
Produced by PBS Digital Studios
Theme Music: Eric Friend/Optical Audio
Music: APM
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Published on


Nov 1, 2018




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Comments 274
Lone Lump
Lone Lump 7 days ago
I’ve lived in Georgetown Texas for 13 years now and I never knew this lmao
Robert Williams
Robert Williams Month ago
Ding, Ding, Ding... Business!
Bentley Parish
Bentley Parish Month ago
DAYUMMMMM! !!! I just saw CONSERTIVE Progressive. AND, he powers his town with 100 percent renewable energy. AWESOME!!!
Ken Royall
Ken Royall Month ago
The town has lost 30 million dollars so far. It's a bust.
Joy Havana
Joy Havana 14 days ago
PX Rusca8
PX Rusca8 Month ago
You say energy but mean electricity, huh?
Steven Miller
Steven Miller 2 months ago
5:38 Wow! a republican who says, "It's not a Republican or Democratic issue." I thought "Democrat" was the only form they were allowed to use as an adjective.
Oregon Cephaloproctic LLC
The High Price of Green Posturing moonbattery.com/the-high-price-of-green-posturing/ 6 Feb 2019 Green posturing comes at a high price. Fortunately for pols, they aren’t the ones who pay it - we are (" Texas town’s environmental narcissism makes Al Gore happy while sticking its citizens with the bill" www.foxnews.com/opinion/texas-towns-environmental-narcissism-makes-al-gore-happy-while-sticking-its-citizens-with-the-bill ) Political leaders in a college town in central Texas won wide praise from former Vice President Al Gore and the larger Green Movement when they decided to go “100 percent renewable” seven years ago. Now, however, they are on the defensive over electricity costs that have their residents paying more than $1,000 per household in higher electricity charges over the last four years. That’s right - $1,219 per household in higher electricity costs for the 71,000 residents of Georgetown, Texas, all thanks to the decision of its Republican mayor, Dale Ross, to launch a bold plan to shift the city’s municipal utility to 100 percent renewable power in 2012 when he was on the city council. … His decision to bet on renewables resulted in the city budget getting dinged by a total of $29.8 million in the four years from 2015 to 2018. Georgetown’s electric costs were $3.5 million over budget in 2015, ballooning to $6.3 million in 2016, the same year the mayor locked his municipal utility into 20- and 25-year wind and solar energy contracts to make good on his 100 percent renewable pledge Here’s what residents got for the money: Ross was elevated to celebrity status, appearing in scores of articles and videos, both at home and abroad. Al Gore made it a point to feature the Texas Republican mayor at renewable energy conferences as well. Ross was even featured in one of Gore’s documentaries They must be so proud - even if the 100% renewable energy claim is “nothing more than spurious sloganeering” because “wind and solar power can’t be relied on to keep the lights on 24/7/365.” After AOC and the rest of the radicalized Democrats take power, the whole country may be as proud - and as broke - as the residents of Georgetown, Texas.
Gandwanamumma 2 months ago
Look at the plastic bottles, so you are not Zero Waste??? This is just as big a problem for the EARTH s future and clean and grean planet!
David Beaulieu
David Beaulieu 3 months ago
Still hate conservatives but him not so much. Should be a progressive
Jake Norrie
Jake Norrie 3 months ago
So proud of my little city!
Gamma Ray
Gamma Ray 3 months ago
tuco james
tuco james 4 months ago
City Al Gore Featured in Movie Is Losing Millions After Going 100% Green Energy ruvid.net/video/video-L4eeHpsAXaA.html&pbjreload=10
THE SILENT GOD 4 months ago
Actually, according to latest reports, this town is losing big money due to their variable renewables plan...
Mr. Boomguy
Mr. Boomguy 4 months ago
Best republican mayer I have seen.
Jake 4 months ago
Please please please! I’m begging all elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, make decisions based on facts. The stereotypes associated with what you are ‘supposed’ to believe or choose based on affiliation are extremely damaging!! This is a perfect example of fact based decisions regardless of affiliation and stereotypes.
Amy Sternheim
Amy Sternheim 4 months ago
This is like the coal mining history museum in Kentucky that put up solar panels to save long term money.
rockenrollbass 4 months ago
"It's not rocket science." Tell that to ted Cruz and your Republican buds.
Sergio Díaz Nila
Sergio Díaz Nila 4 months ago
the words we use affect our thinking, and i'm convinced USA is hurting itself a lot by the false equivalence that liberal equals democrat. No, Liberal is not any random person that says "i'm a liberal" and then joins a party and then adopts the party agenda. No a Liberal is anyone that follows any of the branches of the general ideology of Liberalism, like Economic Liberalism (What Adam Smith created) or Classical Liberalism (what Austrian School created) or NeoLiberalism (more Austrian School Economists defending Classical Liberalism) or Social Democracy (Keynesianism) Both Republicans & Democrats are Liberals.
Itoro Okon
Itoro Okon 4 months ago
Not everybody on Earth has access to electricity.
ELK 4 months ago
Never mind that Williamson County voted for Beto O'Rourke over Ted Cruz and voted for the Democrat over Republican incumbent John Carter. Yeah, so much for that mumbo jumbo about being in the hotbed of conservatism. And forget about how we've been told for over a century how oil is a fossil fuel and how it's a depleting resource all the while oil pockets keep refilling and we have ample amounts of oil. There's some fact based science that repeatedly observable but who cares about real science right?
Appaloosa Dreams
Appaloosa Dreams 4 months ago
I'm a die hard Bernie Sanders' fan and I love this guy!!!
THE SILENT GOD 4 months ago
100% Renewables is not our real goal, our real goal is quitting fossil fuels and switching to 100% clean energy. insisting blindly on 100%renewables and opposing, excluding nuclear, which is a very powerful empirically proven tool, will mean winning the fight against climate change will be practically impossible.
THE SILENT GOD 4 months ago
in other words, it's only 100% renewable if you ignore the fact that most of the energy in the grid still comes from fossil fuels. this is just a cheap world play, it is not a real 100% renewable electricity town. you are misleading people
Greg Kientop
Greg Kientop 5 months ago
If you understand intermittency, then you should also be aware also of battery banks, flywheel energy storage, pumped hydro storage, compressed air storage, and soon... super capacitors. Any SMART grid will have these to balance intermittency. Still attached to your dumb grid? Can't help you there. If your thinking is still intermittently stuck in the 1900s, look them up. No magic bullets, -the magic is in the final result. The resulting grid is more complicated, but also more resilient and adaptable.
Mario D. Zmaj
Mario D. Zmaj 5 months ago
praising republicans for going clean is like praising a junkie for not shooting dope up their veins. Like, I got through my whole life without using dope, where are my compliments?
Andrei Canonazo
Andrei Canonazo 5 months ago
6:35 I think Yeah
Norbert Baylon
Norbert Baylon 5 months ago
This story makes me smile....my faith in humanity is restored(a bit but at least)
penguins forall
penguins forall 5 months ago
That kind of business deal is called collective bargaining. The more you know.
fuckfannyfiddlefart 5 months ago
Now the mayor just needs to go 100% whole food vegan!
Dhindara Vrel
Dhindara Vrel 5 months ago
That's precisely what we need to do to get those aboard who care only about the bottom line and nothing else - bring the price of carbon emissions up to make sure they're no longer competitive.
Moses Jonson
Moses Jonson 5 months ago
I want London to go down Georgetown path, 🙏 hopefully, we will reach that goal of 100% green energy in London, I hope more LNDNers will turn to more Hybrids and pure EV cars. Other than that I love this.
Moses Jonson
Moses Jonson 5 months ago
finally, Republicans are wising up ( a few of them, to say the least).
kor'vre 5 months ago
Short but entertaining videos iDrEs
That’s nice , keep it up!
Russell Fine Arts
Russell Fine Arts 5 months ago
Virtually all new utility power generation contracts are solar and wind so in the very near future, the entire U.S. grid will be renewable energy, it's inevitable.
Field 5 months ago
I love how your voice gets slightly lower when you're talking to the mayor vs. in the cut aways
Greg Simones
Greg Simones 5 months ago
Fantastic job on this video. I hope to use this in my college class. You will actually find that most Republicans are open to innovation and certainly good business and being accountable to their citizens. I am a Conservative minded scientist but politics never colors my teaching as science and fact are sacred to me.
Brandon Musser
Brandon Musser 5 months ago
conservatives like the environment to you know
panstriato2 5 months ago
Great for the town. Please stop calling electrical energy just energy.
Fynn Schumann
Fynn Schumann 5 months ago
Another problem in the US is that a lot of energy is wasted, like the fan in the shop.There you could install a motion sensor, the same with fridges, light bulbs and of course in industrial processes.
TurambarFR 5 months ago
Well, they still seem to have a lot of big cars...
Phlaked Corn
Phlaked Corn 5 months ago
Definitely not 100% renewable, maybe if they all gave up their cars, and actually generated and stored the electricity and made all of the own food and goods, instead they are buying the electricity from a source that literally couldn't supply 100% renewable, using oil for their cars and buying products shipped from around the world.
Tim Jadeglans
Tim Jadeglans 5 months ago
about 30% of all energy used is oil even when the grid is 100% renewable. Mostly because of cars and trucks. But at least the argument "electric cars aren't better because the energy comes from coal" gets a lot smaller and hopefully makes the transition easier
Ethan Wetter
Ethan Wetter 5 months ago
This made me feel really good
ArthursHD 5 months ago
It is great, but 100% renewable electricity ≠ 100% green/renewable energy. Heating/cooling and transportation is not included. Let alone footprint of goods and services.
καμιά ψυχή
καμιά ψυχή 5 months ago
Where's that "why Texas has its own electric grid" video? ¶=
Mihai Bica
Mihai Bica 5 months ago
Now if he could set another example and hit the gym and a diet...
Topaz Nora
Topaz Nora 5 months ago
Unlike Democrats, he didnt force the entire city to spend their own money to buy solar panels they dont need. He didnt infringe on the free will of his citizens just to go green.... liberals take notes! No tax raises, no infringement!
fireofenergy 5 months ago
How does Georgetown get it's clean energy at night when the wind isn't blowing? They use credits that buy even more RE during the day or windy times. However, there's only so many credits to go around. Not all of America (or world) will be able to power themselves 100% _all the time_ unless MORE is built, much more. And then, put most of that extra into storage. Now, it ain't cheap. This is why we need to just demand a *molten salt reactor for every town.* Screw the fossil fuels backup, which is most of the time (not "just a little backup").
Christian Lassen
Christian Lassen 5 months ago
I usually vote Republican and love this guy and everything he represents in this interview. This is how to win the environmental debate: it has to make sense for the individual as well as the community/nation. Republicans aren't against the environment, we just don't want the community at large to trounce or put down the individual. And no,the individual isn't more important than the community, they are equal. That's a hard balance to make and compromise and concessions need to be made in both directions. When going green makes financial sense, everyone will do it, or almost everyone. Without coercion.
Kalvin N
Kalvin N 5 months ago
does nuclear ount as renewable according to these renewable energy credits
THE SILENT GOD 4 months ago
it's all semantics. plus, our goal is clean energy anyway, not 100%renewables. so, nuclear should be deployed regardless
salle rc
salle rc 5 months ago
What does $18 per MW really means? (@2:32) Doesn't make sense.
Gege Bubu
Gege Bubu 5 months ago
Great video, great story. But when saying that the town runs on "100% renewable *energy*", you really mean that it runs on 100% *electricity*. Energy would include industrial processes, transport, agriculture etc.. 100% renewable energy would be totally amazing (while 100% renewable electricity is great nonetheless!).
Mikes Science
Mikes Science 5 months ago
Let's move this mayor up in politics!
Roger Starkey
Roger Starkey 5 months ago
Can you generate power from hot sauce?
Michael Chadband
Michael Chadband 5 months ago
And then you see the vehicles. A good start but a long way to go
Wyndham Coffman
Wyndham Coffman 5 months ago
"We let the facts dictate the best decision" Republicans haven't used facts in twenty years; he is clearly an independent in disguise as a Republican.
Kristen McPherson
Kristen McPherson 5 months ago
Joe, your accent is coming out.
DuizhangLu 5 months ago
Damn, Joe is reeeeally tall
SuicideBunny6 5 months ago
As a chili lover, I'm jealous of that Hot Sauce Shop
SuicideBunny6 5 months ago
"Clean water, clean air is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, it's an American issue." IT'S A GLOBAL ISSUE
Digital Nation
Digital Nation 3 months ago
in case you didnt know, america = the world, outside america = the rest of the world.
John Piontkowski
John Piontkowski 5 months ago
why didnt you mention anything about their giant storage battery on Rabbit Hill. 10MWh (and growing)
TheGino820 5 months ago
The problem is that when there aren't sun and wind you can't produce elettricity by renewable and you have to produce whit fossil fuel, we need new tecnology and storage system
TheGino820 5 months ago
Every night there isn't sun, and in winter there is less sun than in summer. And the wind is not so continuative. The tides are another story...
Roger Starkey
Roger Starkey 5 months ago
Are there really that many days where there isn't sun *or* wind? As long as the earth is spinning (I said it!!) and the moon is there, there will be both, not to mention tides.
jan schilling
jan schilling 5 months ago
jan schilling
jan schilling 5 months ago
W.D. Callahan
W.D. Callahan 5 months ago
I would love to hear the story of how and why Texas has its own power grid.
Randolph Thomas II
Randolph Thomas II 5 months ago
I'm okay with this. Nice to see an R with common sense -- at least in the energy department. We'll see about the rest.
Amuzic 5 months ago
Green Energy being a political agenda really looks silly to the rest of the world which is not america. In other countries, the opposition to green energy mainly comes from corporates and not politicians. It's time america(both democrats and republicans) to move beyond the idea that green energy being democrat or a liberal thing. Cheers to that cheery Mayor.
Linus Fondin
Linus Fondin 5 months ago
I Love that guy! (the mayor)
help me
help me 5 months ago
Hey, way to go Georgetown!!!
Toshihiko Tanaka
Toshihiko Tanaka 5 months ago
It's always nice to have someone in power that execute decisions based on facts and reality. In his conservative perspective, the fact that renewable energy provider gave his town a better deal than traditional ones is a very sensible option, and he took it. I wish all politician from any ideology and platform could think and act like him, the society will benefit more.
Marco Pohl
Marco Pohl 5 months ago
why wasn't he the republican candidate instead of trumpuss!?
Mivichi 5 months ago
Dude, I want to go to that hot sauce shop.
Danny Tangelo
Danny Tangelo 5 months ago
elad lerner
elad lerner 5 months ago
I want to expend on that quote: "It's not an American problem, it's not a Chinese problem. It's a Humanity problem."
SPalash 5 months ago
Texas is the best state in America!
Marlena Stepkowska
Marlena Stepkowska 5 months ago
Ok, I gonna recommend it to people now
Edward Doernberg
Edward Doernberg 5 months ago
there was an aspect missing from this episode. how are they dealing with production shortages (still air nights in the generating region)? the pool of water analogy doesn't quite work for electricity because the grid doesn't inherently have any storage capacity. there are storage options available (batteries, pumped hydro) but they are additional services you have to pay for. and the default solution for peak power demands and lulls in renewable production is gas turbines. before you say your power is 100% renewable you should have sourced a renewable solution to this problem. and I am disappointed that it wasn't mentioned in this episode.
Roger Starkey
Roger Starkey 5 months ago
Edward Doernberg They said that that facilities that generate the power aren't necessarily local. They pay the local provider a fixed amount for a given amount of energy. That energy must be generated by green means. The local provider sources a larger amount of green energy from various sources (the wind always blows somewhere!) and provides the required amount to Georgetown. Simple. Using the pool analogy. They pay the guy who owns the straw, he promises to pay the guy with the hose pump powered by green energy. If enough towns say they they will only buy straws through this pair (or similar) the ones with "coal powered pumps" must change. Are they not constructing wind AND solar installations (with batteries?) On oil land in Texas.
Hot Mess
Hot Mess 5 months ago
This is a good point to bring up. Grid operators are very good at anticipating production from renewables like wind and solar, and surprise shortages are rarely a problem in Texas these days. In addition, the combination of daytime solar peak production and nighttime wind peak production provides a dependable and fairly stable supply. Storage is ultimately necessary for a 100% renewable grid, but Texas engineers told me during prep for this episode that they can safely predict production enough to get the grid to 80% renewable without batteries. We’ll see!
8-Bit Raptor
8-Bit Raptor 5 months ago
Doesnt matter that tehir conservative.
ma5t 5 months ago
I don't think many electrons have been generated in power plants...
Nelson Swanberg
Nelson Swanberg 5 months ago
Belief is not knowledge. Faith is not fact. Science deniers Hold us all back. Honesty is not truth. “Science has liberated the ideas of those who read and reflect, and the American example has kindled feelings of right in the people.” - Thomas Jefferson
awesome steve
awesome steve 5 months ago
wait, electric grids? what about Alaska and the pacific territories what do they get?
shinchan the best
shinchan the best 5 months ago
TheyCallMeNewb 5 months ago
And a scintilla of optimism was born...
Roger Starkey
Roger Starkey 5 months ago
I hope that light bulb that just switched on is LED!
Artus Meyer-Toms
Artus Meyer-Toms 5 months ago
Buying 'renewable energy' on the electricity market does not change the carbon emissions output. Instead, other consumers who don't care about renewable buy more non-renewable energy on the market. That'a apart from the fact that wind and solar energy supply totally not correlate with a cities usual demand, so they are actually dependent from non-renewables when there is lack of wind and sunlight. Please, continue to promote renewable energy and other low CO2 power generation. But don't delude yourself by stating it comes with no cost.
Roger Starkey
Roger Starkey 5 months ago
It's cheaper. It *can* correlate with demand if buffered with storage. The next piece of the puzzle will be tidal energy.
hsiF A
hsiF A 5 months ago
The fact that this town exists makes me happy.
Roger Starkey
Roger Starkey 5 months ago
Consider consumption rates of countries per head capita. Where is America in that list? My point being, "we" (everyone, everywhere) needs to cut energy useage at *the same time* as changing the methods to obtain the energy, and the way its used. Its easy to change your lights at home to led. I've done it. 33 units, 150w if they're ALL on at once, at full power (they're all dimmable). Little things help. If a million homes did that, it's a LOT of power. The same with Aircon, heating. *Insulate* homes so they don't need the heating, or cooling, in the first place!
hsiF A
hsiF A 5 months ago
I’m Blue, btw.
Rob Babcock
Rob Babcock 5 months ago
Kind of sounds like an accounting trick since they're not really using much/any/entirely renewable. Still it's an effort.
Richard Jorissen
Richard Jorissen 5 months ago
solar requires ~50% overcapacity and wind ~30 % I am all for green futher, but our storage capacity/technologie isn't close to being enough if you want a full solar and wind energie sector. Maybe make a video about how we are going to cover this greenpower weakness In my opionion we push a side nuclear to fast, we need a solution fast, and nuclear is a necery evil in my opion. Sorry for my english
Roger Starkey
Roger Starkey 5 months ago
Add tidal. Add storage. REDUCE individual consumption.
mybellyisapinata 5 months ago
Came here for the environmental story, stayed for the flirty glances the mayor was giving the presenter in the hot sauce shop 🏳️‍🌈
LegoCookieDoggie 5 months ago
Yep, that's why I preach that the enviorment is NOT a bipartisan issue.
Annie G
Annie G 5 months ago
That was a really good description of buying energy off the grid without getting caught up in the minutia of renewable energy credits and community choice aggregation! From a girl studying renewable energy, ya’ll are doing a great job!
Brian Foulds
Brian Foulds 5 months ago
​+Annie G A simple mention that REC are how renewable energy is accounted for around 5 min. in when Joe says "renewable energy is as much an accounting thing as it is a clean electrons thing" would go a long way to educate the public and hold more utilities, companies and towns accountable for their claims of renewable electricity. Also here is a write up on the town website that states "Since April 2017, Georgetown has been 100 percent renewable based on the state’s system of accounting for renewable power based on renewable energy credits." So they are doing a great job. georgetown.org/2018/06/29/georgetowns-energy-100-percent-renewable-with-solar-plant/
Annie G
Annie G 5 months ago
+Brian Foulds Yes but to do that justice you would need a 30 minute video and you would lose 90% of the audience within the first few minutes. If the issue they wanted to tackle was RECs, that would be a very different video. And Georgetown must be retiring the RECs if they are allowed to claim their energy is renewable otherwise they wouldn't be able to say anything about its green attributes. I agree that greenwashing is a really big issue and unbundled RECs are problematic but I don't think that's where all the energy of a basic video like this should go towards.
Brian Foulds
Brian Foulds 5 months ago
Sorry Annie I totally disagree. Joe you do a lot of great videos but not explaining Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) is like saying it is OK for electricity suppliers to continue to greenwash this issue. REC "represent the environmental and other non-power attributes of renewable electricity generation" per EPA. (ruvid.net/video/video-_12VYXms6-c.html) If Georgetown does not retire the REC, the owner of those REC is claiming the positive environmental attributes. This is double counting and only the owner of the REC has a valid claim. This kind of greenwashing is common and it is up to people like you to educate the public about these issues.
KwakWack 5 months ago
I'm moving to Georgetown
DtWolfwood 5 months ago
but to innovate is opposite to the word "conservative" So title should be Republican instead. pedant out
Zachary Henderson
Zachary Henderson 5 months ago
Eduardo Terroso
Eduardo Terroso 5 months ago
Hi, you always talk about making your videos more carbon neutral. Can you make a video about carbon offsetting? Is it reliable? What are the best options? Is it a good way to compensate for when I need to fly?
Zachary Prosser
Zachary Prosser 5 months ago
Btw the new Brazilian president is willing to open the Amazon up for logging. Great vid btw.
kitsurubami 5 months ago
god damn that mayor was full of himself. Why take pride when he literally said his motives were cheaper energy...? lol
Zachary Henderson
Zachary Henderson 5 months ago
He wasn't taking pride in himself, but rather being proud of the town he represents.
Marty 2516
Marty 2516 5 months ago
I love this channel so much! Keep up the great work bringing us the climate change stories we need to hear!
Thomas Crouse
Thomas Crouse 5 months ago
Dylan Painter
Dylan Painter 5 months ago
TLDR: It's cheaper
Christopher Willis
Christopher Willis 5 months ago
Good video but does make things blurry in the cost department when you consider ITC and PTC's, which isn't discussed in the video, but I love your clarity on the grid and the grid pool :D www.energy.gov/savings/renewable-electricity-production-tax-credit-ptc
IQ267 5 months ago
I love this mayor so much. He's the best of the Republican party
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