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Amsterdam Goes For Broke

Mark Scott has a nice piece in BusinessWeek on Amsterdam's plan to become one of the world's premier green cities—and fast. Scarily fast. The city is hitching up with utilities and private companies to plunk down $1 billion over the next three years to do stuff like creating a citywide smart grid that better juggles electricity demand, replacing old garbage trucks with electric vehicles, powering bus stops with solar panels, improving the efficiency of homes, putting meters in homes to let people better monitor their own energy use, and so on… All told, Amsterdam hopes to cut its carbon emissions 40 percent by 2025. 

And the cost? Well, the article calls the price tag "hefty," though some of the items seem like a fantastic deal. The smart grid, for example, comes to "$410 per household over 15 years," which works out to $2 per household per month. Considering that a well-designed smart grid should tamp down on unnecessary energy use—in early trials in Boulder, smart meters and "real-time network monitoring" cut electricity use in some households by up to 50 percent—it seems like those costs would be recouped almost immediately, via lower electric bills. Not bad.

Flickr photo credit: Claudio.Ar

--Bradford Plumer