Houston Committing to Solar Energy

Houston is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's "Solar American Cities". Mayor Bill White is eager to expand the use of alternative power and so far two buildings are generating some of their power from the sun. Rod Rice reports.
One of the locations is the City Code Enforcement building on Main just south of Elgin where 40 solar panels are expected to produce about 12-thousand kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. The panels were donated by BP Solar. The idea isn't to generate all power from the sun, but enough to augment usage during the peak hours when demand and costs are highest. BP's Todd Foley says a set up like this one would cost a business about 64-thousand dollars to install.

"And it would pay for itself, once you factor in the various incentives, probably in eight to ten years. The beauty of solar is that once the panels are in at a fixed cost, you have production for 30, 40, 50 years and your electricity is paid for."

There is more to alternative energy that just saving money. Mayor White says that every kilowatt generated by the sun is one less coming from a generating plant.

"It means there is less of a demand, less of a load, less competition for the scarce electricity we have."

There are 25 Solar American Cities. The designation was the result of a competitive process that comes with grants of up to 200-thousand dollars.

DOE's goal is to make solar power cost-competitive within seven years or less.
Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...