Houston, we have an energy problem (and solution)

Houston is a fast-growing city, and it uses a lot of electricity. Most of that power has come from natural gas to date, which seemed like a good idea when prices were low. But now natural gas prices have shot through the roof, and Houston (along with Texas) consumers are paying much higher utility bills than their neighbors.

The solution? Wind power, say city leaders, as reported in the Houston Chronicle:

Hoping to stabilize a $150 million annual electricity bill, Houston officials have negotiated a contract to ensure that a third of the city's power is generated by wind.

If approved, the contract would make Houston a leader among local governments across the country using renewable energy.

The mandate for wind as part of the annual 1.3 billion kilowatt hours needed to power city buildings, street lights and water plants comes from Mayor Bill White, who has made energy conservation a theme of his tenure.

"It puts us in a definite leadership position," said White, a former chief operating officer at the U.S. Department of Energy during the Clinton administration. "We are ahead of the curve."

City Council could consider the contract as soon as next week.

Purchasing wind power also would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the city's electricity usage by 300,000 tons per year.