Everyone knows that Houston is the smog-riddled energy capital of the world, so it was with a touch of irony that the annual Clean Air Through Energy Efficiency Conference awards were announced this afternoon in Houston.
Attendees from across Texas and other states, munching on a typical banquet meal of chicken cordon bleu and asparagus, were supposed to hear self-proclaimed clean-air advocate Mayor Bill White, but alas, he was too busy to show. Instead, Issa Dadoush, director of the city's General Services Department, said a few words about Houston's efforts to be efficient and go green.
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He started off by saying that according to the EPA, the Houston area is the nation's top purchaser of energy. However, said Dadoush, the city government is currently buying nearly a third of its energy from wind farms and is planning to increase its usage of solar power. He claims the city is developing a 10-megawatt solar facility that could be up and running by June of next year, and that more than half the city's traffic signals use LED lights which reduce energy use by 90 percent and save city taxpayers about $10,000 a day in energy costs.
"All of this equals a dramatic decrease in energy consumption," said Dadoush. As further proof, he said that despite the fact the city and its population keep on growing, the city's energy usage has dropped six percent from 2004 to 2008.
Several awards were handed out at the banquet. Houston-area state senator Rodney Ellis took home the top prize for Outstanding Government Official and Houston-based company Standard Renewable Energy, which began in 2006 with two employees and now boasts more than 250, won for Outstanding Commercial Enterprise for its efforts to help homeowners and business become more energy efficient.
Houston did not win the award for best government organization; that one went to El Paso.