Breath of Fresh Air: North Texas Annual Conference Chooses Green Power

The North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church helped make environmental stewardship a reality for its member congregations through a new electric aggregation contract with Hudson Energy Systems.

Under the contract, which takes effect January 1, 2008, all participating congregations will be receiving 10 percent of their electricity from Texas renewable energy generators. The contract allows individual churches to request an even higher percentage of green power from Hudson Energy at a small additional cost.

About 170 United Methodist churches will purchase power under the new contract, for a total of 40 million kilowatts per year. At least 4 million kilowatts will be generated from renewable sources. According to data from the EPA, the renewable power will offset more than 5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and about 4,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides annually, helping to clear Texas’ air and reduce global warming.

The North Texas Conference is a partner in Breath of Life, Texas Interfaith Power & Light’s energy stewardship covenant program. After adopting a 2006 Conference Resolution endorsing Breath of Life and calling on churches to improve energy stewardship, Conference staff saw the opportunity to weave care for the creation into their new electric contract.

Energy consultant Trenton Cogdill, who helped the Conference develop the aggregation contract, said several Texas denominational groups either have or are working on electric aggregation contracts, but that the North Texas Conference is the first he’s worked with that has specified green power in their contract. Cogdill said he expects other Texas denominational groups to follow North Texas’ lead, and said he’s happy to see religious communities making care for the creation a priority.

Conference Associate Director Tom Christian said he was surprised to find out how affordable renewable power was. Christian said he is pleased that the Conference is helping to build demand for renewables in Texas. “Compared to how much time it would take to sell that much green power one residential customer at a time, the power of aggregation means that demand has grown in a chunk,” Christian said.

The North Texas Conference began its electric aggregation program in 2002 following electric utility deregulation in Texas. Hudson Energy is the Conference’s third vendor. Under the contract, every participating church receives electricity at the same price per kilowatt, with the price locked in for the length of the contract. Hudson Energy bills each church separately, with the Conference guaranteeing the contract.

The North Texas Conference includes 328 churches and more than 160,000 members. Some churches are ineligible to participate in the aggregation contract because they are not located in deregulated areas. The Conference covers 20 counties and spans North Texas from Wichita Falls to Avery.