One Consequence of Renewables: Free Energy

An energy revolution is underway in Texas. While better known for its sprawling oil fields, Texas now has more wind energy capacity than any other state. And the investments in renewables are beginning to pay off. One of the state’s primary utilities, TXU Energy, is rethinking how customers and residents gain access to their energy.

After investing in wind farms, utilities in Texas are now generating more power than is being demanded during off-peak hours, yet are still struggling to meet needs during peak demand. In an attempt to overcome this problem, TXU Energy in Texas has begun to give residents free access to electricity at off peak hours. The innovative new program is simple: get residents to drastically decrease consumption during peak demand, and plug back in during off-demand. The plan creates more reliable demand for utilities, decreases stress on production at peak times, and can save residents up to $50 a month on their electricity bill.

Texas and TXU Energy are showing the rest of the nation that there are new and innovative ways to approach energy. This system involves an investment in renewables and a change in behavior by residents, and yields benefits for both. This win – win situation should be embraced by city and municipal leaders throughout the country who want to advance climate solutions, and empower their communities. See how your city can work towards similar climate solutions by visiting Path to Positive Communities.

A Texas Utility Offers a Nighttime Special: Free Electricity

By Clifford Krauss and Diane Cardwell | New York Times | November 8, 2015

DALLAS — In Texas, wind farms are generating so much energy that some utilities are giving power away.

Briana Lamb, an elementary school teacher, waits until her watch strikes 9 p.m. to run her washing machine and dishwasher. It costs her nothing until 6 a.m. Kayleen Willard, a cosmetologist, unplugs appliances when she goes to work in the morning. By 9 p.m., she has them plugged back in.

And Sherri Burks, business manager of a local law firm, keeps a yellow sticker on her townhouse’s thermostat, a note to guests that says: “After 9 p.m. I don’t care what you do. You can party after 9.”

The women are just three of the thousands of TXU Energy customers who are at the vanguard of a bold attempt by the utility to change how people consume energy. TXU’s free overnight plan, which is coupled with slightly higher daytime rates, is one of dozens that have been offered by more than 50 retail electricity companies in Texas over the last three years with a simple goal: for customers to turn down the dials when wholesale prices are highest and turn them back up when prices are lowest.

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