ENGAGE D2 October 17, 2015: THINK DIFFERENT – THINK RIGHT – THINK LONG (On Renewable Denton)

THINK DIFFERENT – THINK RIGHT – THINK LONG

This article from governing magazine brings forward an important definition of sustainability that I think our citizens and city leadership should consider. That, “Sustainability is not about lasting long, it is about building projects that stand the test of time in terms of their lasting credibility and viability in changing circumstances.”

With the current Renewable Denton plan, we have the near term opportunity to possibly achieve 70% renewable energy consumption here in Denton. As an environmentally conscious citizen that is very appealing to me as it is to many of you. But the plan requires us to build a pair of natural gas power plants here within our city. I get it, natural gas plants are not as dirty as coal. But they are still dirty. And we will be utilizing and paying for these natural gas power plants – according to Denton Municipal Electric projections – until the year 2036. 2036. The year 2036.

What will be different by the year 2036? Will the decisions to invest in natural gas power plants, an investment in fossil fuels, stand the test of time? Will those decisions hold their credibility and viability in changing circumstances? I don’t think so. I think that well within the next ten years the decision to build two natural gas power plants within our city will look as short-sighted and incomplete as our decision to invest in the Gibbon’s Creek coal fired power plant was back in 1975. When the Gibbon’s Creek plant went online in 1983 it was already an environmental and fiscal embarrassment for our city. 

Again I ask, what will be different by the year 2036? What renewable technologies will have come on line and been well established by then (not to mention those renewable technologies and strategies which are online and viable now)? What further federal regulatory oversight will these natural gas power plants be subject to as the concerns over the negative environmental impacts of fossil fuel consumption only increase?

It is time for us – the citizens – to consider our energy infrastructure options in Denton, Texas. I do not advocate for citizens to just sit by and be un-engaged and complacent. It is, in theory, possible that the Renewable Denton plan on the table right now is the most environmentally and fiscally responsible course that our city can take right now. But is it? The idea needs to be challenged. The idea needs to be explained. And the Renewable Denton idea needs to be explained against more than just a single alternative as it has been to date. So far we have only been shown an A or B choice. A) Go with the Renewable Denton plan, or B) Don’t do anything. We need options C, D, and E. Right now we have DME telling me that they haven’t really explored other options because they haven’t been asked to. I have also learned that it is quite possible that letting the citizens decide with a vote weather or not to implement the Renewable Denton plan could be somehow illegal and could be considered an improper expenditure of public funds. We haven’t fully explored all other options and voting is illegal. That last sentence should be alarming to you.
HERE IS WHAT I AM FOR: 

  • REDUCE CONSUMPTION WITH EFFICIENCY: Let’s offset the additional energy we need by reducing our energy waste. Instead of “energy centers” let’s have “efficiency centers”. I want to see a comprehensive Renewable Denton plan that puts a premium on policies and incentives that drive energy efficiency within our city. Other cities are doing this right now and stimulating their economy by doing so. 
  • INCREASE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RESIDENTIAL/COMMERCIAL SOLAR: Far less sunny places than Denton, Texas are successfully (more successfully than Denton) stimulating the commercial and residential adoption of solar. Places like Blacksburg, VA.
  • CONTINUE TO STEADILY INCREASE THE PROPORTIONS OF WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY SOURCES, LEAVE GIBBON’S CREEK, CONTRACT FOR ON DEMAND ENERGY. We are told we can’t have 100% renewable energy because we have to have on demand power. OK, in the rare occurrences that the solar and wind farms that we draw from (farms which are spread far and wide across our vast state) don’t produce, then we need to have short term energy contracts that can fill the gap. Contractual consumption can be leveraged down over time and will not tie us to 30+ year capital investment in natural gas fueled power plants. And as truly renewable energy battery storage becomes more and more “mainstream” we are not left holding the note on these capital investments and we will achieve 100% renewable energy goals much sooner.
  • IMMEDIATELY BEGIN RESEARCHING BOTH EMERGING AND ESTABLISHED GRID GRADE BATTERY STORAGE. What is already established? What are best practices? What renewable energy players are making significant investments in grid grade battery storage? What are their projections for capitalizing their investments with mass market adoption? Does that technology appear more appealing and forward thinking than two natural gas fueled power plants within our city?
If we want to be the city of the future we have to make investments like the city of the future. If we want to be a leader and example for the way the world should be then our actions have to speak for us. If we want our children and future generations of Dentonites to be proud of our city, we have to make the decisions now that will earn that respect. We can’t settle for short term gains that fail to stand the test of time in terms of their lasting credibility and viability in changing circumstances.

Please let me hear from you on this topic. I need to know what you want from your city. This is a big topic with huge, long lasting financial and environmental implications. We need to think this through and understand if these implications are negative or positive.

You can message me through this page. You can email me at briggsfordenton@gmail.com. You can talk with me face to face on Sunday October 18 from 2-4PM at the North Branch Library. Invite below:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1512041349106025/

Your humble representative,

Keely G. Briggs

Council Member – District 2
215 E. McKinney Street
Denton, TX 76201
Phone: (940) 453-8377
Email:  keely.briggs@cityofdenton.com
Email:  briggsfordenton@gmail.com
Web:  briggsfordenton.org

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