FAQ Georgetown Energy Contracts

Download a copy of the electric purchased power costs presentation given to residents at the Sun City Town Hall meeting Jan. 24 here: Sun City Town Hall electric purchased power costs presentation.  Video of the Jan. 22 presentation to the City Council on the electric fund can be viewed here

1. How does the City purchase electricity?

The City electric utility purchases power from wholesale energy suppliers. The cost to purchase electricity includes the cost to generate and transmit power to Georgetown.

Georgetown is under contract to purchase power from four different providers. The two largest energy providers are Spinning Spur 3, a windmill farm near Amarillo, and Buckthorn, a solar farm near Fort Stockton. The wind power covers the bulk of the city’s energy needs. The solar farm provides energy needed during peak times of the day and year (primarily summer during the daylight hours).

The third source of energy is a smaller wind farm operated by American Electric Power (AEP) which primarily covers Southwestern University’s energy needs.

The final energy contract is with Mercuria for natural gas-based energy. This contract was initiated in 2013 with the former JP Morgan following our termination of the City’s relationship with LCRA. It was intended as a short-term power supply and is set to expire in 2021.

2. Is the City of Georgetown losing money on its purchased power contracts?

No, not for the power used to meet the demand of the City’s electric customers. The average cost of the power supplies is well within the City’s current rates.

For the excess power the City doesn’t consume that is cleared to the market, the price depends on time-of-day and the season. But on average for the year, this excess power is a loss due to depressed market prices. However, over time, the losses will lessen. The biggest relief will come in 2021 when the last Mercuria contract expires. That will create a savings of over $10 million per year.

While the City’s original strategy worked well when energy prices were high, the state’s energy market is in turmoil with a drop in fuel prices. At the same time, the utility is seeing a drop in consumer demand which is largely driven by conservation efforts, energy-saving technologies, and more energy-efficient new construction. Due to these two factors, the City ended the 2018 fiscal year with a $6.84 million shortfall in the electric fund, leaving a fund balance of $1.97 million. It is important to note that renewable energy is not the issue at hand, but the amount of energy under contract.

Additional relief will come as electrical demand in Georgetown grows. The less electricity the City needs to clear to the market, the better the financial outlook.

3. Why did the City sign long-term contracts?

Long-term contracts are standard practice among municipally-owned utilities and the best way to negotiate lower, fixed rates. Going back to the market every five or 10 years increases the city’s exposure to what can be a volatile energy marketplace.

Leading up to 2012, electric power prices were fluctuating and unstable. At the same time, there was uncertainty in how federal and state regulatory policies might impact traditional power generation via coal and fossil fuels.

The contract with Spinning Spur 3 started in 2015 and runs until 2035. The contract with Buckthorn started in 2018 and runs until 2043. The AEP contract expires in 2028 and the Mercuria contract ends in 2021.

The City recognizes that contracting for more energy than we currently need led to a risk of having to clear excess energy to the market. Due to depressed energy prices, the City is working to mitigate costs associated with that risk.

4. Was the current situation created by the city’s move to all-renewable energy?

No. The current changes in the electric fund are due to the amount of energy that the City has under contract, not the type energy. The outcome would have been the same if we had used the strategy with other sources of energy. Simply put, the City is buying more power than is consumed in Georgetown. The City did not anticipate disruptions in the market and overestimated the projected growth in demand.

At the time renewable contracts were signed in 2013 and 2015, and based on a 20-year forecast of continued city growth, it was logical to anticipate the need for more energy. Georgetown continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in Texas, so the City remains ready to serve demand from consumers and businesses. At the same time, the City is planning several steps to adapt our strategy.

5. Why do we have more energy under contract than we need for Georgetown?

In addition to preparing for city growth, a few other factors have led to the excess in power supply:

  • In addition to the public power utilities in Georgetown and Garland, a third public power utility was planning in 2013 to partner in purchases from Spinning Spur 3. However, that partner pulled out at the last minute. The City was left with two choices: either cover both shares or walk away. If the City pulled out of the wind farm project, there would have been a substantial delay in procuring another source of energy. At that time, there were also federal tax credits for renewable energy set to expire. Without the tax credits, the costs associated with the wind farm could have gone up 20 percent.
  • In addition to having 50 percent more power than the City needed coming from the wind farm for the short-term, the City also contracted with a solar farm that was larger than it needed in the short-term. Contracting for the larger solar farm allowed more purchasing power at cheaper rates. At the time, it made sense to purchase for the more power for the longer term.
  • Smart technology and improvements in new home and commercial construction have slowed the growth in local energy consumption. Energy efficiency is indeed a good thing, but until we have a larger population to serve, we will continue to have excess power.

The City clears excess power to the market. Because of the lower energy market costs, the City is clearing excess power at prices below the contracted rate. That will change when prices for power increase. In the meantime, the City is adjusting the original power strategy.

6. Don’t the energy contracts provide a fixed energy cost?

The contracts guarantee a fixed-rate for the energy that is purchased. Current rates cover costs of energy consumed in Georgetown. The contracts require the City to purchase a set portion of the wind facility output and all of the solar facility output.

When the market price of power decreases, the City is still obligated to pay the fixed-rate for power and sells the excess at a loss. When the contracts were executed, the City did not expect power prices to decline and remain low for years.

If energy prices had maintained the trajectory they were on in 2013, the City would be experiencing a very different financial reality. However, the strategy does not work when energy prices are depressed and remain depressed for several years.

7. Why is the City just now addressing the increases in purchased power?

Over the past few years, the energy market in Texas experienced a fundamental change. Forecasts provided by ERCOT, the State’s energy grid operator, have proven to be unreliable. What were perceived as anomalies in 2016 and 2017 due to reduced consumption, unpredictable pricing, and unusually cold weather, masked the true impact of a depressed global energy market. Looking back, it is apparent that a longer-term trend of lower energy prices is the driving factor of the electric fund’s current finances. The effect of depressed energy prices became abundantly obvious in 2018.

In 2016, 2017, and 2018, the City addressed these ongoing challenges with one-time solutions, including adjusting how the City financed electric infrastructure projects (i.e. cash vs. debt financing), adjusting the timing of projects, increasing the power cost adjustment, or PCA on electric bills, and completing a rate study. All these efforts were intended to resolve what was previously perceived as one-time problems.

These efforts did not resolve on-going financial arrangements with the City’s energy providers. This year, the priority for the City is to change the on-going financial obligations of the electric fund. This could involve reducing the energy Georgetown is obligated to purchase, selling a portion of the energy to a third-party, adjusting the terms of some of the financial obligations, or some combination of all these efforts. The City is also exploring options to better manage the energy portfolio day-to-day.

8. What factors led to the growing underestimate of energy costs from 2016 through 2018?

The City has traditionally estimated its future energy costs based on market projections provided by ERCOT. Since 2016, these projections have proven to be unreliable.

Going forward, the City will estimate energy costs based on the previous year’s performance, while taking into account the anticipated revenue from customers. Any shortfall will need to be addressed by restructuring the financial arrangements the City has with its energy providers and increasing or decreasing the power cost adjustment or PCA to account for fluctuations in energy costs.

The City implemented a PCA on Feb. 1 to address the immediate financial concerns of the electric utility. The City has raised or decreased the PCA in the past to respond to power costs. Currently, the goal is to reduce the PCA as soon as possible.

Rumor Control

There have been several inaccurate or misleading statements made by news media or posted on social media related to the City’s energy contracts. Here are a few of the misconceptions the City would like to correct.

The City is not being open and transparent regarding its electric contracts.

It is important for customers to know that the City is contractually precluded from discussing certain competitive matters related to the operation of the electric utility. The release of certain information related to the wholesale cost of energy, or information that could enable a person to determine the wholesale cost of energy, would be a violation of our energy contracts. Releasing certain data exposes the City to possible legal action from the private companies with which the City contracts for energy.

The City has responded to questions from news media organizations, sent out news releases, provided information on the City website, and responded to questions on social media about the issue. The City has proactively met with members of the press to help educate and share information on this critical topic.

The City posts financial information on its website. The financial information meets the criteria for the State of Texas Transparency Stars program and is audited annually in the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The City is awarded a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting annually by the Government Finance Officers Association.

The City releases information to outside groups, but does not release certain information to its customers.

This claim centered on a presentation given by City staff at a conference at Texas A&M University. The entire presentation can be found here. The hourly load and resource forecasts chart does not represent actual data points from the City’s energy portfolio.  The chart includes representative data to illustrate generally how pairing a solar resource with a wind resource can create an energy supply mix that matches the City’s energy demand. The entire presentation given by staff was an educational seminar on energy contracts. It did not include competitive information.

The City lost $26 million.

The loss of $26 million reported by the media is inaccurate. It is true that between 2016 and 2018, the City incorrectly projected the cost of energy by a total $26 million. However, the City compensated for these missed projections with one-time solutions, including adjusting how the City financed electric infrastructure projects (i.e. cash vs. debt financing), adjusting the timing of projects, increasing the PCA on electric bills, and completing a rate study. All these efforts were intended to resolve what was previously perceived as one-time problems.

The City does not want to shortchange the severity of the current challenge. A more accurate characterization of the current position is to reference the change in fund balance. The electric fund is expected to end the year with a fund balance of $1.97 million, which is $6.84 million short of the projected balance for fiscal year 2018.

This problem occurred because the City contracted for renewable energy.

The crux of the current challenge hinges on the large amount of energy the City must sell on the market that is not currently consumed in Georgetown. Like most city-owned utilities, Georgetown contracted for more energy than it currently needs. Any energy that is not consumed by Georgetown customers must be sold into the energy market.

Over the past few years, the energy market in Texas experienced a fundamental change. Forecasts provided by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the State’s energy grid operator, have proven to be unreliable. What were perceived as anomalies in 2016 and 2017, such as reduced consumption, unpredictable pricing, and unusually cold weather, masked the true impact of a depressed global energy market. The effect of depressed energy prices became abundantly obvious in 2018.

At the same time, the utility is seeing a drop in consumer demand which is largely driven by conservation efforts, energy-saving technologies, and more energy-efficient new construction. Due to these two factors, the City ended the 2018 fiscal year with a $6.84 million shortfall in the electric fund, leaving a fund balance of $1.97 million.

It is not possible for the City to be 100 percent renewable.

The City has never claimed that the electrons produced in West Texas are the same electrons consumed in Georgetown. In fact, a commentary published by the Austin American Statesman on Aug. 11 states, “[t]he city did not set-out to influence other energy providers or shakeup the state grid. We know that Texas is reliant on traditional sources of energy. We know it is impossible to track an electron produced in West Texas all the way to Georgetown. However, we also know that state attributes all of wind farm and solar farm production with Georgetown.”

Texas operates an interconnected electric grid. Georgetown is credited with the energy it pays to put into the grid, regardless of where it is located. The City is credited with putting more renewable energy into the grid than it consumed. According to the state, Georgetown’s customers have been using and paying for all-renewable energy since April 2017.

What We’re Doing Now

Current Challenge

Simply put, the City is buying more power than it currently needs.

Over the past few years, the energy market in Texas has also experienced a fundamental change. Forecasts provided by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the State’s energy grid operator, have proven to be unreliable. What were perceived as anomalies in 2016 and 2017, such as reduced consumption, unpredictable pricing, and unusually cold weather, masked the true impact of a depressed global energy market. The effect of depressed energy prices became abundantly obvious in 2018.

At the same time, the utility is seeing a drop in consumer demand which is largely driven by conservation efforts, energy-saving technologies, and more energy-efficient new construction. Due to these two factors, the City ended the 2018 fiscal year with a $6.84 million shortfall in the electric fund, leaving a fund balance of $1.97 million.

In 2016, 2017, and 2018, the City addressed these ongoing challenges with one-time solutions, including adjusting how the City financed electric infrastructure projects, such as cash versus debt financing, adjusting the timing of projects, increasing the PCA on electric bills, and completing a rate study. All these efforts were intended to resolve what was previously perceived as one-time problems.

Suffice it to say, the City’s strategy to mitigate fluctuating costs associated with purchasing energy has not worked. The focus on ensuring adequate energy supply and mitigating high-prices overshadowed the short-term consequences of having a surplus of energy in a depressed market. The City did not mitigate the risks associated with clearing energy at low prices.

What we are doing now

1. Addressing the increased costs for purchasing power

The City is working through several approaches to address this issue. All of these steps will be explored to address the electric fund’s current financial position.

The City is working to renegotiate the two long-term power contracts to extend the life of the contracts in exchange for lower costs for the next few years and allow the utility to grow into the higher supply costs as the population grows. The City is also considering selling a portion of the excess energy to a third-party, and identifying ways to better manage the energy portfolio day-to-day.

The City has reduced expenses in the electric department. This includes not issuing any new debt for capital projects, halting current projects, lowering the annual return on investment, or ROI, payment to the City’s general fund, a temporary hiring freeze, and limiting noncritical expenditures. These one-time adjustments were addressed in the current budget and will be considered in future budget discussions.

The power cost adjustment, or PCA, charge will continue through September. This is the charge which allows the City to recover costs associated with purchasing power. The PCA compensates for fluctuations in purchased power cost. The PCA is one tool to ensure the solvency of the electric fund should renegotiating the energy contracts take longer than expected. The City has increased and decreased the PCA several times over the years in response to changing energy prices.

2. Making one-time adjustments to the current budget

The City amended the following revenues related to the electric fund budget for the 2019 fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2018: recognized the full year impact of continuing the PCA, reduced bond proceeds to zero, and recognized a portion of the proceeds from the Bloomberg Grant.

The City amended the following expenses related to the electric fund budget to save about $2.3 million: reduced the transfer to General Fund by $1.2 million, reduced salary and benefits related to three vacant positions (an analyst, an engineering supervisor, and a journeyman electrician) for a savings of $316,488, deferred the purchase of a pressure digger vehicle for a savings of $434,050, eliminated the $60,000 transfer to the Main Street Façade Fund for the holiday lights, deferred $222,000 worth of radio replacements, and saved $156,000 for deferring the issuance of bonds. The total capital improvement project budget was also reduced to $4 million from $7.9 million.

3. Adjusting electric rates

The monthly charge customers pay increased by $4.80 starting Jan. 1 to cover costs associated with operating the electric department. The monthly charge increase included in the 2019 budget is to help cover costs associated with maintaining and growing the electric system in Georgetown. These costs include large projects like providing power to new subdivisions, burying overhead electric lines, and upgrading aging infrastructure.

The rate change also includes consolidating the State’s transmission charge, or TCOS, with the current energy charge.

Beginning Feb. 1, the City is also increasing the Power Cost Adjustment, or PCA.

Customers will incur an increase of $0.0135 per kilowatt hour, resulting in a new PCA of $0.0175 per kilowatt hour through September. The average customer uses 949 kilowatt hours per month and will experience a $12.82 increase on their monthly bill.

Contact Us

To learn about how the PCA will impact your individual utility bill, please email customercare@georgetown.org or call (512) 930-3640.

To have a representative from the city come speak to your homeowner association or civic organization, please email ms@georgetown.org or call (512) 930-3723.

How To Read Your Bill

With our new system roll-out, you may have noticed your bill looks a little different.  Nearly all of the information that was on your bill previously is still there, but in some cases it may be in a different spot, so below is a summary of the sections of your bill and what kinds of information is in each section.

1) Account Information – This section will contain your basic contact information as well as general billing information, such as the period bill for, total amount due, and when your particular billing due date is
2) Current ChargesDepending on whether you have water and/or electric service you could have one or two sections here. Each section will contain the amount you used as well as the billed amount for each item related to your water or electric service.  The Current Charges for water will contain detail regarding each price tier.
3) Other ChargesThis will contain the billing detail of all non-metered services such as Sewer, Garbage, Stormwater, and if you are a Georgetown Utility Systems electric customer, the Energy Conservation Fee.
4) Amount DueHere you will find the Previous Balance of your last bill, the Payments made since your last bill, the Current Charges of your current billing period, and the Total Amount Due by Due Date.
5) Consumption Details & Historical UsageIf you have electric and water service, this section will be found on the reverse side of your bill. Here you will find the detail of your electric and water consumption, such as the Start and End Reads, meter information, and total consumption.  Additionally, you will see a graph of your consumption for your metered services.

FAQ – Budget Payment Plan

Unpredictable variations in the weather make it very hard to fit your utility bill into a budget. Utility bills may vary monthly according to your consumption.

To help our customer “even out” the highs and lows of their utility bill payments, the City of Georgetown is offering an optional payment program to our residential customers. We call our program the Budget Payment Plan (BPP).

How does the plan work?

Each month, our BPP payment is an average of your current bill and the previous 11 billings, plus 5% of the balance in your reserve, whether that balance is a debit or a credit. This new plan does not change the rates that you pay or the amount of your consumption from month to month. It simply allows you to pay less in high usage months by paying more in low usage months.

What is a reserve balance?

The reserve balance is the difference between the actual charges that you incur and the averaged amounts that you pay. Depending on the fluctuations in your billings, it may sometimes be a debit or credit balance.

Will I pay the same amount each month?

No. Because it is an average including the current billing, and 5% of your reserve, THE AMOUNT YOU PAY EACH MONTH WILL VARY SOMEWHAT. It will not be a set amount.

How will I know what I really used?

Your electric and water meters will still be read each month, with the actual consumption printed on the bills, as usual. Also, under the amount due heading of your bill, total current charges will be the actual charges incurred. The blue total amount due by due date total will be the averaged amount that you pay. The difference will go into your reserve.

How do I know if I am eligible?

In order to qualify for the BPP you must…
Be a residential customer
Have no disconnections for nonpayment, insufficient checks or more than 2 late payments in the last 12 months of history.

How do I sign up?

If you would like to have your utility account billed though our Budget Payment Plan, please print and complete this application, found at the link below, to the Georgetown Utility Systems Customer Care, PO Box 1430, Georgetown TX 78627. If you would like more information, please call our office at 930-3640.

Budget Payment Plan Application

How to Contact Us?

Georgetown Utility Systems (512) 930-3640

Location: 300-1 Industrial Ave., Georgetown, Texas 78626
Lobby Hours: Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Call Center Hours: Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Email: customercare@georgetown.org

New Customer Self Service Portal

To access the new customer portal, please click the link below.  If you have have not set up an online account, the instructions below will assist with the creation of your new online account.

 

The Georgetown Utility Systems online customer self service portal is now live.  When navigating to the new portal for the first time, you will need to click the button to set up a new account.   In order to set up your online account you will need the following items:

  • Before attempting to create a new log in you will need to have the following information readily available.
    • Access to a valid email address that can be checked.
    • Customer Utility Account number, (if using an older account number it must contain the dashes.  Example 123-4567-89, new account numbers are in the following format 100123456.)
    • Drivers License used when utility account was initially set up.

     

    1. First thing you will need to do is click on Sign up now.  All customers must set up a new account on the new customer portal below.

    2. Starting with the first box “Email Address”, you will need to enter a valid email address and click the button which says “Send Verification Code”

    3. Next thing is you will need to be able to check the email address you used for an email from Microsoft that says: “Microsoft on behalf of GeorgetownCSS”.  That email will contain a six digit verification code.

    4. Once you have the verification code you received in the email you can enter it into the box labeled “Verification code”.

    5. Now click on the button to Verify code, you will get an error if you do not enter a valid code. Note, the verification code is only valid for a few minutes.

    6.  Once the verification code has been entered successfully you can complete the rest of the form.  Passwords must be a minimum of 8 characters long, contain at least one capital letter, one numerical digit, and must include one of the following characters !,@,#,$,%,^,&,* (Example: Gtown123!)

    • Customer Account number must contain dashes if you are using the old system account number (example: XXX-XXXX-XX). The new billing system account number can also be entered (example: 10016223).
    • Driver License – Enter the driver license number used when the original utility account was set up. The sign-in will not work if the driver license number does not match the one in the system.
    • If you initially created your utility account with an out-of-state driver license that is no longer valid and you cannot find that number, contact Customer Care at customercare@georgetown.org or 512-930-3640. Have your current driver license information ready. A Customer Care representative will provide that information to utility staff who will be able to help you complete the steps to create a new account. Due to high call volume, there are long wait times. You can also email Customer Care and a representative will contact you as soon as possible.
    • The “CREATE” Button will turn GREEN – once the entire form is filled out.
    • Hit CREATE – If all the data is correct– it will take you to the Home Page of the Customer online portal!

    If you are ready to complete your account set up please click the button below to access the Customer Self Service portal.  Remember to keep this page open if you need to reference the steps.

 

During this transition period we will not assess late fees.
To make a payment over the phone, dial 1-855-347-0509.

Dates and times for walk-in help at an office location are listed at gus.georgetown.org/customercare/paying-your-bill. This page will be updated as new dates and times are added.

Paying Your Bill

Georgetown Utility Systems (GUS) has launched a new online billing portal that provides residents a way to manage usage and payments more effectively.  Customers can now log on to our new customer self service portal, by clicking here, to pay their bill, track and compare usage, and receive timely information and updates.  By creating an account, users can sign up to receive billing and service notifications and set up auto pay by debit/credit card or bank draft.  Customer are ensured peace of mind knowing that their sensitive payment information is protected by the most stringent Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements.

In order to complete the account sign up process, you will need the following information:

  •  Account Number –  (Account number must be typed how it appears on the bill.  If there are dashes, on the bill, you must also type in the dashes when creating the account.)
  • Email Address –  (You will have to have access in order to receive a verification code, sent to the address you provide)
  • Personal Identification Information – example,  Drivers License

Future plans for the service include tailored products for water conservation programs, expanded smartphone technology capabilities such as outage notifications, bill and payment alerts, and bill pay options.

More Ways to Pay

Online Payments:  

  • One-time payments can be made through the new customer portal beginning on 8/6/2018. Click here for access.
  • Customers will be issued a new account number that will need to be used to update their online bill payment account. This number can be found on your bill dated after 8/6/2018.

Auto-draft accounts: (Credit/Debit or Bank Routing):

    • If you are a current auto-pay customers – You will need to set up a new auto-pay account via the new portal after August 6, 2018. Click here for access.

24-hour Payment Drop Boxes:

  • Available for after-hours, weekends and holiday payments
  • Locations:
    •   113 E. 8th St. (east side of City Hall)
    • 300 Industrial Ave. (Municipal Complex)
    • 851 FM 970, Florence, TX (formerly Western District Office)

Regular mail:

  • Mail payments to Georgetown Utility Systems, P.O. Box 1430, Georgetown, TX 78627

Customer Care Call Center:

  • Call us at (512) 930-3640, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for assistance.

Lobby and Cashiering Center:

  • Located at the Georgetown Municipal Complex, 300-Industrial Blvd, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Does your bank send us your utility bill payment? Please take a few minutes to verify the utility account number is the same account number on your bill payment sent from your bank. Not having the correct utility account number may delay or keep your payment from being posted.

How to Read Your Bill

If you would like information on what is on your bill, click here

 

 

Bloomberg Virtual Power Plant Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I sign up to lease my roof space for solar panels?
I’m glad you are interested in learning more about our project.  It is folks like you that will help us “flesh out” details to ensure the program meets our collective needs.  For now, we will place your name and phone number on a list and contact you once we determine whether we were chosen for the Bloomberg grant funding program.

What has the City of Georgetown received from Bloomberg?
Bloomberg has donated funding to develop the legal and financial business model for a virtual power plant project.  Over the summer, the City will engage with the community to determine the viability of the project.  At the end of August, the City will reapply to Bloomberg with the fully detailed program.  If the City is awarded the next phase of funding, implementation of the project will begin.

How much money is Bloomberg awarding the City?
Bloomberg has given the City up to $100,000 to fund the first phase of the Virtual Power Plant project.  This amount funds research into the legal, financial, and preliminary engineering needed to make the project viable.  If the City wins the second phase of funding, Bloomberg will contribute an additional amount between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000 to fund deployment of the project (solar panels, batteries, smart switchgear, etc., and further engagement with the community).

How will you determine which homes are eligible? Is my house a good fit?
Georgetown Utility Systems (GUS) conducted a solar radiation mapping project over the last 3 years to find the solar potential of every square meter of the energy territory we serve.  GUS also conducted a battery storage analysis and incorporated the technology into the Westside Service Center facility to test the analysis.

By using a combination of solar potential, capacity on the existing distribution grid, and geographic locations, the utility has scientifically identified the buildings/rooftops that are likely to produce the highest value return.  For competitive reasons, the full analysis cannot be released, but we are working on a website that can display the solar map to show the building/locations best suited for solar panels.

Why is the City considering this plan?
The City has participated in the statewide energy market through its many ups and downs over the decades.  The market is facing a few trends that make the Virtual Power Plant an economically viable idea which would help us reduce risk.

Solar panels and batteries are becoming cheaper, transmission costs are rising rapidly, and regulators are exploring changing wholesale energy cost models to penalize resources that are far away from the customers they serve.  For us, the Virtual Power Plant could provide both a physical and financial hedge against costs the City currently has little control over such as transmission costs.

What is a Virtual Power Plant?
The Virtual Power Plant serves the same function as the traditional plant (a single power producing location that sends power to customers over transmission lines) but uses software to aggregate hundreds or thousands of different small locations, like homes, in an effort to mimic the controls that a traditional power plant would have.

Will my energy rates go down by participating in this program?
For participants in the program, the City’s goal would be to find a viable business model that provides compensation to customers for the use of their rooftop or garage space for placement of solar panels and batteries.  The financial and legal parameters of such a model will be developed in this first initial phase and more information will be available as we go through the process.

Water Emergency

Water System Failure – Emergency

Usage Target – 50% reduction of overall system water use

Emergency conditions are implemented when:

  1. Water demand approaches a reduced delivery capacity for all or part of the system, creating a situation in which water system demand exceeds water system capacity, for an extended length of time, as determined by the General Manager;
  2. A major water line break, or a pump or other system failure occurs, which causes a loss in the capability to provide treated water service; or
  3. A natural or man-made contamination of the water supply.

Customer and City Actions

  • Assess the severity of the problem and identify the actions needed and time required to resolve the problem;
  • Implement immediate measures to notify the public as to water system or water source failure;
  • Severely restrict or prohibit, as appropriate, all water system use in the affected service area;
  • Arrange for the emergency purchase of water from alternate sources for which there exists the proper agreements for such purchases; and
  • Customers will discontinue or severely restrict all use of potable water from GUS water system until notified by City that a safe and adequate water for public use is restored.