Georgetown’s Bloomberg solar project moves forward amid electric fund issues

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The city of Georgetown is moving forward with its plans to install solar panels and batteries on and around Georgetown homes as part of the $1 million grant the city received from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ U.S. Mayors Challenge.

In October, Georgetown was one of nine cities to receive money to implement proposed projects. For Georgetown, the plan is to create a “virtual power plant” in which the city would select homes and neighborhoods that would best be able to collect and store solar energy.

Jack Daly, assistant to the city manager of Georgetown, said the city is in the final stages of laying out and reviewing the project’s plan and will present the grant agreement to City Council by March, if not during its Feb. 26 meeting.

“It’s a cool project, and we’re very fortunate Bloomberg selected us,” Daly said. “We’re looking forward to implementing the project.”

The project continues as the city faced a shortfall of $6.84 million from energy contracts last year after the city switched most of its energy purchases to wind and solar producers. The contracts set a price for the purchased energy but missed projections did not foresee a drop in energy prices, city officials said. As the city is still responsible for paying the difference, it has offset some of the costs by increasing the power cost adjustment charge on bills paid by residents who receive electric service from Georgetown Utility Systems.

The adjustment increased Feb. 1 by $0.0135 per kilowatt-hour, setting the new rate at $0.0175 per kWh until September. City estimates show monthly bills will increase by $12.82 for electric service customers using the citywide monthly average of 949 kWhs.

The city also announced Feb. 8 that it would hire consultants within the next few months to help sell off excess energy not used by customers of the city’s utility. The city said it would seek a consultant to oversee its energy portfolio and another to review the city’s management of energy purchases.

Daly said the Bloomberg money can only be used for the project and cannot be reallocated to cover city financial woes but added the project was never meant to address energy concerns of today.

“This is, even with everything going on in the electric fund, is a long-term project of 10, 15, 20 years of implementation,” Daly said.

Daly added after the city finalizes the project plan with a budget and implementation timeline, it will submit it to Bloomberg for a review. He said the city plans to hire a project manager in the summer and begin implementing the project by late summer.

“We’re looking forward to being innovative,” Daly said.

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  1. “As the city is still responsible for paying the difference, it has offset some of the costs by increasing the power cost adjustment charge on bills paid by residents who receive electric service from Georgetown Utility Systems.”

    It is important to note that unlike 85 percent of Texans, Georgetown’s residents don’t have a choice of electric service providers. They are captive customers of the one size fits all plan of Georgetown Utility Systems.

    Ask your council person why folks in Georgetown cannot shop for an electric service plan that meets their needs as opposed to those of the council? What is it about Georgetown’s residents that makes them unfit to choose?

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Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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