‘Virtual power plant’ wins Georgetown $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies

The Buckthorn solar plant, located in Pecos County in West Texas, began sending solar-generated power to Georgetown in summer 2018.

The Buckthorn solar plant, located in Pecos County in West Texas, began sending solar-generated power to Georgetown in summer 2018.

A plan to lease space on rooftops of homes and businesses to install solar panels has earned the city of Georgetown $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the U.S. Mayors Challenge.

Georgetown’s “virtual power plant” is among nine million-dollar winners announced Monday by Bloomberg Philanthropies, joining projects from Denver; Durham, N.C.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Huntington, West Virginia; Los Angeles; New Rochelle, N.Y.; Philadelphia; and South Bend, Ind.

City officials say installing solar panels on residential and commercial properties in Georgetown will bolster cost efficiency and reliability of the city’s renewable energy sources.

This summer, Georgetown became the largest U.S. city to purchase all of its energy needs from renewable sources. The city has contracts with NRG Energy’s Buckthorn solar plant in West Texas and EDF Renewable Energy’s Spinning Spur 3 wind farm, located near Amarillo.

“With Bloomberg’s support, we’ve developed a model with greater community support and better financial viability,” Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross said in a statement. “We look forward to making the ‘virtual power plant’ a reality.”

Georgetown submitted its application to the U.S. Mayor’s Challenge in October 2017. The city was named one of 35 finalists in February and received $100,000 from Bloomberg Philanthropies to develop its proposal. The city of Austin was also named a finalist.
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