5 US towns seeking energy independence with renewable resources

You may have gotten your fill of the phrase “energy independence” with last year’s election: both parties and presidential candidates touted the idea repeatedly. It’s a compelling concept…  it’s also contentious. For some, energy independence means harvesting solar, wind, and geothermal power; for others, it’s the motivation behind “Drill, baby, drill!” Either way, it’s a challenging goal at the national level.

At the local level, though, energy independence may be realistic… and numerous communities around the United States are exploring available renewable resources, and the technology necessary to harness them. Here’s just a handful of towns creating models for clean energy production… and good old fashioned self-reliance.

  • San Jose, California: You’d probably expect Silicon Valley to lead the way on cutting-edge energy technology, and San Jose‘s trying not to disappoint. Yesterday, the city council gave the city manager the authority to negotiate the terms of “an organics-to energy bio-gas facility.”

  • Greensburg, Kansas: While this little town that’s attempting to rebuild itself as a “model green town” after a disastrous tornado doesn’t use the phrase “energy independence” much, the Kiowa County Community Wind Farm, slated to open in November ’09, “will provide enough power to meet all the energy needs for the town in the foreseeable future.”

  • Rock Port, Missouri: Small is beautiful when it comes to energy independence, and the town of Rock Port, Missouri (population 1,400) has become the first community in the nation completely powered by wind.

  • Reynolds, Indiana: Another small (population 540) Midwestern town, Reynolds was chosen as the community to execute the state government’s “Biotown USA” experiment. The plan: power the town on a range of locally-available biomass, including cow poop.

  • Warrenton, Virginia: Like San Jose, Warrenton, a suburb of Washington, DC,  is taking the “trash into treasure” approach. Mayor George Fitch has spearheaded an effort to build a “biorefinery,” and reduce the town’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2015.

Of course, this list doesn’t include any of many ecovillages around the country and world dedicated to living lightly and with self-reliance…

We know there are many more green communities striving for energy independence that we’ve missed. If you know of one,  share its story in the comments…

Image credit: vaxomatic at Flickr under a Creative Commons license