photo by Chris Muenzer (muenzer on Flickr CC)

Investment in wind turbines and solar panels has paid dividends for over 800 Italian communities, which produce enough renewable energy that they are able to sell electricity back to the grid.

A survey by the Italian environmental organization Legambiente (League for the Environment) shows that small municipalities in Italy are benefiting from new renewable energy plants, which are being constructed due to the southern European country’s high electricity rates.

Though Italy as a whole is behind the rest of the European Union in renewable energy production as well as on other environmental issues, some parts of the country are responding to unpredictable fossil fuel prices and generous government feed-in tariffs. Tocco de Casauria, a small town in the center of Italy, is one such place:

Renewable energy has been such a boon for Tocco that it makes money from electricity production and has no local taxes or fees for services like garbage removal.

–New York Times

Tocco has only four wind turbines, but produces 30% more electricity than it uses. This earned the town 170,000 euros last year.

Italy is an interesting example of a European country that should embrace renewable energy. Like Portugal, it has no fossil fuels or established nuclear power industry, but plenty of sun and wind. Unlike Portugal, it has not embraced renewables on a national level. Yet examples such as Tocco’s may be a way forward, in which green power production is treated as more of a local than regional or national issue.

The type of renewable energy coming from small towns like Tocco depends on local resources. In the northern Alpine counties there is a heavy reliance on hydropower and the burning of agricultural waste. Italy’s scorching south tilts a bit more toward solar, although wind, too, is important there because it is by far the most cost-effective renewable technology…

–New York Times

Read the full story in the following New York Times article:

Ancient Italian Town Has Wind at Its Back