Monday, September 15, 2008

Solar power will help treat rural town's sewage

As energy prices keep climbing, the Texas Office of Rural Community Affairs is looking to renewable energy. The office recently gave $488,714 to Lometa, a town of about 800 people, "to install solar panels to help power the plant that treats its sewage," writes Asher Price of the Austin American-Statesman. While many have been skeptical about the high prices often associated with renewable energy, the Lometa example may lessen that skepticism.

"The renewable energy project comes as rising energy costs have hit rural communities especially hard; residents often have lower incomes and longer drives to community services and work," Price writes. The solar panels in Lometa are supposed to generate roughly half the power required to run the sewer plant, save the town around $6,000 annually and avoid increases in sewer bills. The town can use the help; its median household income is little more than half the national average. Its population is about one-third Hispanic.

Other Texas communities are becoming interested in similar projects but state funding is limited; Lometa's grant is only the second from the rural office. "The state of Texas just doesn't have a lot of money for these projects," adds Travis Brown, the office's renewable-energy program manager. (Read more)

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