Renewable Energy, Good For Homeowners, Good For Houston

A local energy entrepreneur is concerned that Houston could become Detroit and that energy costs could be the next "sub-prime" crisis. Rod Rice reports.

John Berger believes that energy prices could begin to increase dramatically and when they do many people will be faced with unexpectedly high energy bills, just like those hit by the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

"The problem is that energy, whether we use it to fill up our cars or whether we use it to light our homes or cool and heat our homes in the form of electric bills, is something that we have to pay."

Berger says if energy costs double or triple you have no chose but to pay them. He says the solution is to make an important decision.

"I'm going to cut my exposure to the utility. I'm going to cut my utility bill down through energy efficiency, though insulation and upgrading of air conditioning, weatherization, monitoring. And then I could take it even further and I'm going to buy solar. And I'm going to put it on my house and cut that bill even further."

He says not using a kilowatt hour of electricity is better than just paying less for it. Berger is betting more of us will make these decisions. His company Standard Renewable Energy is a one stop shop for cutting energy use. It does everything from energy audits and monitoring to air
conditioning upgrades and solar panels.

John Berger also thinks that businesses like his are just what Houston needs, because it's losing its energy profile.

"I can only imagine that the city of Detroit, back in the 50's when somebody said that General Motors is going to get bailed out in 2008 to the tune of several billion dollars by the government, and told in early 2009 that they were going to go bankrupt, that nobody would believe you. It's impossible."

But he says people and companies are beginning to leave here, just as they did in Detroit several decades ago.  Energy executives who once lived in Houston are living overseas.

"The people of Transocean, the executives there, they go to the Geneva grocery store not the Houston grocery store now, and that's a material change. And so we've hollowed out the bottom, the people who actually get the work done, the men and women who go on the rigs because production isn't done here any more. We're hollowing out the top and the only thing we have left is the middle, the huge amount of engineers, project managers and so forth. When I look at that I think, why couldn't those project managers exist in Bahrain, China, India. We've got to be careful; I mean it's going to happen."

John Berger thinks his company and other renewable energy concerns can help individuals cut energy costs now even as they will help the area's economy grow even larger in the future.
 

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...