Georgetown will move to hire energy consultants within months

Over the past three years, Georgetown entered two long-term contracts with solar and wind power producers.

Over the past three years, Georgetown entered two long-term contracts with solar and wind power producers.

Georgetown officials hope to hire consultants within the next few months to help sell off excess energy not used by customers of the city’s utility that has led to millions of dollars in budget shortfalls over the past several years.

“Hopefully by the time we get to April and May we’ll have more answers,” General Manager of Utilities Jim Briggs said Feb. 12.

The city announced Feb. 8 it issued two requests for proposals: one seeking a consultant to oversee its energy portfolio and another to review the city’s management of energy purchases.

Georgetown officials are trying to reduce the excess amount of energy the city is obligated to buy through its contracts with wind and solar power producers. The situation caused a $6.84 million shortfall in the city budget’s electric fund for fiscal year 2017-18.

Projected energy costs for Georgetown between 2016 and 2018 were $26 million lower than what the city needed to meet its contractual obligations and provide electric service.

The requests do not affect the city’s attempts to renegotiate its wind and solar contracts, which are led by city management, Briggs said.

“We’re continuing to have conversations with them,” Briggs said. “Neither one of these [requests for proposals] impact the conversation and discussions that we’re having.”

The city set a Feb. 21 deadline for proposals to review the internal management of its energy contracts and a March 7 deadline for proposals to take over management of the city’s energy portfolio.

After proposals and bids are received, Georgetown City Council will decide selections.

The city has $40,000 in its fiscal year 2018-19 budget for the management assessment.

Costs for hiring a consultant for the city's energy portfolio will be based on submitted bids.

Briggs declined to detail a range of how much the city might pay a third party to manage its energy portfolio, citing the nature of the bidding process.

“It’s kind of a competitive process,” Briggs said. “I don’t really want to put something out there at this point in time until we have the proposals.”

The city entered a 20-year, 144 megawatt-hour capacity deal with EDF Renewable Energy’s Spinning Spur 3 wind farm that began operating in 2015 and a 25-year, 150-mWh agreement with the Buckthorn solar plant, now owned by Clearway Energy, that began operating in 2018.

Georgetown also has smaller contracts with a wind farm operated by American Electric Power that expire in 2028 and a natural gas producer owned by Mercuria that will end in 2022.

Georgetown has an existing contract with Garland Power and Light to manage energy sales mostly involving the Mercuria contract, Briggs said.

City officials have said the decision to buy more energy than Georgetown needs in the present day was part of a strategy to plan for future growth and take advantage of increasing prices predicted in the state’s wholesale energy market managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

The city must sell its excess energy on the wholesale market, but predictions of increased prices in the market have not proven true over the past several years, according to city officials.







SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

(Graphic illustration courtesy Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)
‘We’ve got this’: Central Texas librarians step up to help their communities amid coronavirus pandemic

The example in Bee Cave appears to be just one of many stories relating how, amid the COVID-19 crisis, librarians are helping their communities throughout the Greater Austin area.

Economic relief options for small business owners include the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Has your Austin-area small business been affected by the coronavirus? Here are resources you can access.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering a short-term loan program intended to help cover payroll and a separate, long-term loan program intended to help business owners stay afloat.

A recent string of incidents where Zoom meetings have been “hacked” has put the future viability of teleconferencing security in doubt. (Courtesy Pixabay)
String of racist attacks via videoconferencing software leads to heightened security concerns

A recent string of incidents where Zoom meetings have been “hacked” has put the future viability of teleconferencing security in doubt.

Austin and Travis County's orders went into place March 25 and require residents to stay home for everything but essential travel. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
5 recent coronavirus stories from the Austin area readers should know

Read local updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 6, Georgetown ISD will shift its optional learning model to teacher-designed online learning. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Georgetown ISD moves to graded schoolwork as distance learning continues

On April 6, Georgetown ISD will shift its optional learning model to teacher-designed online learning.

Friday's digital telethon will help Austin metro residents through nonprofits during the coronavirus pandemic.
Donations to All Together ATX will help local residents through grants to nonprofits

Friday's digital telethon seeks donations to help the community

Matt Silk, left, delivers food from Modern Market Eatery to a St. Davids Medical Center health care worker. (Courtesy Matt Silk)
Rollingwood resident creates program to help businesses and feed health care workers

Matt Silk said www.atxhospitalmeals.com serves two purposes: It helps struggling restaurants by purchasing food in bulk, and feeds dozens of health care workers with each purchase.

April is National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. (Community Impact Staff)
Experts fear child abuse will rise as stressors related to coronavirus pandemic increase

April is National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

Teams work at the Williamson County emergency services facility during the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Williamson County)
Williamson County calls veterans to ensure they are OK during coronavirus pandemic

“We're going to reach out to every veteran [in Williamson County] that's ever served our nation if they’ll take our call," Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell gave an update on the county's fight against coronavirus April 2. (Snapshot Courtesy Williamson County)
Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell: 'Our resources as a county are limited'

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell gave an update on the county's fight against coronavirus April 2.