General manager of Georgetown Utility Systems will retire

Jim Briggs, longtime general manager for Georgetown Utility Systems, announced his retirement May 2, according to a news release.

Briggs, who began working for the city in 1986 as a public works engineer, will step down at the end of September, the release said.

“Jim is a pillar of Georgetown and in the utility profession,” City Manager David Morgan said in the release. “His tremendous contributions to the city organization and our community are greatly appreciated.”

Jim Briggs[/caption]

In 1989, Briggs was promoted to the director of public utilities, and in 2000, he was promoted again to assistant city manager for utility operations, the release said. In 2010, he was named the general manager of utilities, it said.

When Briggs began his career, Georgetown had a population of about 13,000 people, where 6,000 were water customers and 7,000 were electric customers, the release said. In his tenure, the city experienced significant growth. In 2019, Georgetown now has a population of 70,000 people with more than 45,000 water customers and 25,000 electric customers, the release said.

“I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow professionally in such a great community and a great career in Georgetown,” Briggs said in the release. “I honestly didn’t think I’d be here more than a couple years when I started.”

Briggs has also been at the forefront of the Georgetown energy issue, where the city found its fiscal year 2017-18 electric fund budget short $6.84 million after it was unable to sell excess energy as it had predicted.

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.

This led the city to begin searching for two outside consultants to oversee its energy portfolio and another to review the city’s management of energy purchases.

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, which began operating in 2018.

Georgetown also has smaller contracts with a wind farm operated by American Electric Power that will 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 said at the time 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, but that had not been proven true over the last several years.
By 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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