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Austin and San Diego Kicking Our Green Energy Ass

By Olivia Leigh in News on Nov 27, 2006 6:00PM

Green Chicago: a phrase many of us have heard touting our city as a beacon for environmentally-conscious initivaties.

We’ve reported on Daley’s various “greening” initiatives across the city, from solar panels to rooftop gardens to recycling centers, but in the energy arena the environmental golden boy seems to have lost a bit of his luster.

2006_11_wind.jpgIn 2001, Daley promised to transition a fifth of the city’s electricity to renewable resources by the end of 2006, making him a favorite of environmentalists and eco-conscious celebs. However, with December fast approaching, Chicago is chugging along almost entirely from nuclear and coal fuel, leaving Austin and San Diego to take the honors as top buyers of green energy.

In fact, the Trib reports that the city has not bought any green energy since 2004, with deals to purchase energy from wind farms and landfills falling through or being cancelled. Instead, the city has mostly devoted its energy to rooftop solar panels, a good move, to be sure, but with only three megawatts of solar power in the entire city, we’d be lucky to power a few high-rise apartments, let alone a city of about three million.

Critics chalk up the city’s failure to the loss of a major wind energy provider, as well as budget issues. Green energy is a bit like designer clothes insofar as the products will generally last you much longer and are often more socially conscious, but along with this quality comes a high price tag. As the Trib notes, wind power costs about 5 to 6 cents a kilowatt-hour, whereas current ComEd electricity only costs 3.7 cents. With the likelihood of us having to eat ramen noodles just weeks away, however, prices will be less attractive at 6.4 cents a kilowatt-hour, making renewable energy more viable.

Speaking of a green Chicago, cast your vote today for the 2007-2008 Chicago city sticker. Students from schools across the city sharpened their colored pencils and their, uh, computer apps to create designs centered around the theme, “Green Scene Chicago.” You have until 5 p.m. today to choose which of the ten semi-finalist designs will be shown on 1.3 million vehicles around the city.

Image from Foxtwo.