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.

Electric Water Heater Rebate

ELECTRIC WATER HEATER REBATE

Georgetown Utility Systems (GUS) is committed to helping our customers save money on their electric bill. If your conventional electric water heater was purchased prior to 2015, it may not be as efficient as it could be since national standards have changed. GUS electric customers choosing to replace their old conventional electric water heater with a new electric model having an energy factor (EF) rating of .95 or higher will be eligible for a $100.00 rebate.

Looking for an upgrade? Replace that old conventional electric model with a new electric heat pump (hybrid) unit with an (EF) rating of 2.0 or higher for a $500.00 rebate.

Eligibility

To be eligible for an electric water heater rebate, you must be a GUS electric customer and owner of the property where the new unit will be installed.

Installation Requirements

Licensed Contractor/Plumber Installation

Water heater replacement for GUS electric and water customers within the Georgetown city limits requires a permit prior to installation and an inspection afterwards.  If a licensed contractor/plumber is performing the installation, they must be registered with the GUS permitting department prior to beginning work.  The contractor/plumber will apply for the permit and schedule the inspection.

DIY Installation

If you are replacing your water heater yourself, you still need a permit and follow-up inspection. You may apply for the permit and schedule the inspection here:  www.mygovernmentonline.org.  Click on Permits & Licensing and follow the instructions.  Remember to log back on to schedule your inspection once installation has been completed.

Whether you install your new electric water heater yourself or hire a licensed contractor/plumber, the following requirement MUST be met:

  1. A city permit must be obtained prior to installation (see special permitting exceptions below). You may apply for your permit here: mygovernmentonline.org
  2. The new water heater must be installed to meet all city codes.
  3. The new water heater must be permanently installed in the home.
  4. The new water heater must be inspected by a GUS building inspector once installation is complete. You may schedule your inspection here: mygovernmentonline.org
  5. The new water heater must be electric. Gas appliances do not qualify.

Special Permitting Exceptions

GUS electric customers living outside the city limits may or may not be required to obtain a permit and follow-up inspection depending on several factors.  If you live outside the city limits and are considering applying for a rebate, please call our customer care unit first to determine if a permit and inspection is required for your address.

You can reach our Customer Care department at (512) 930-3640.

 

Applying for a Rebate

Applications for the rebate must be accompanied by a copy of the invoice (if using a licensed contractor/plumber) or a copy of your receipt from the place of purchase.

Fill in all boxes on the rebate form. Incomplete applications may delay your rebate or cause it to be denied.

There are four ways to submit your application for rebate:

1. Print and submit the paper form with invoice or receipt in person at the Georgetown Municipal Complex located at 300-1 Industrial Blvd., Georgetown, TX 78627.  The rebate form can be downloaded here.

2. By mail:

Georgetown Utility Systems
Attn: Energy Coordinator
P.O. Box 409
Georgetown, TX 78627

3. Scan and email form and invoice or receipt to customercare@georgetown.org

4. Submit your application by using the online form found here:  http://records.georgetown.org/Forms/WHRebate. You will be  required to attach a copy of your invoice or receipt.

Things to remember when applying for a rebate:

You must submit your rebate application within 30 days after the follow-up inspection. You will need the following information to complete the application:

  1. GUS Customer Account Number
  2. Type of water heater (conventional or hybrid)
  3. Name of the manufacturer of the new water heater
  4. Model number of the new water heater
  5. Serial number of the new water heater
  6. Energy factor (EF) of the new water heater
  7. Size (gallons) of the new water heater
  8. Receipt/Contractor Invoice

How HVAC Control Systems Help

A great way to improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems is to incorporate control strategies that ensure systems are used only when necessary. Common control strategies include ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostats, multiple zones, and CO2 demand sensors. These strategies can be specified on new heating and cooling systems and retrofitted to older systems as well.

  • ENERGY STAR Qualified Programmable Thermostats: These simple, easy to install thermostats allow convenient night/weekend setback to save you money. Models range from $50 to $200 depending on the desired features and usually include manual overrides to ensure comfort for late night workers.
  • Multiple Zones: By dividing your facility up into multiple heating and cooling zones, your system can deliver more efficient heating and cooling by eliminating inaccuracies from a central sensor point. In addition, building occupants in different areas can adjust the temperature to meet their actual needs. If your facility has many rooms or floors, multiple zones are recommended.
  • Demand or CO2 Sensors: Most heating and cooling systems draw in ventilation air by assumed occupancy, however modern technology has side-stepped this by designing systems that actually can regulate the air quality of your facility by measuring the amount of CO2 present. The result is more energy-efficient operation and better air-quality.

What to do to Maintain Your HVAC

Just like your automobile, your facility’s heating and cooling systems need maintenance to operate efficiently. To improve efficiency and help ensure reliability and long life, consider the following tips.

  • Engage a qualified HVAC firm in a maintenance contract with seasonal tune-ups. During these tune-ups, a technician should check combustion efficiency, refrigerant charge, and belt tension as applicable.  Check NextDoor, the BBB website, Yelp, and other websites to find a good technician.
  • Replace air filters regularly. Accumulated dirt and dust make your fans work harder. Clean or replace filters as recommended by your system’s manufacturer.
  • Clean the evaporator and condenser coils on your heat pump, air-conditioner, or chiller. Dirty coils inhibit heat transfer; by keeping them clean, you save energy.  Instructions for how to clean the coils should be available on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Inspect ducts and piping for leakage or damaged insulation. Leaky ductwork is one of the biggest contributors to cooling loss in buildings. Apply duct sealer, tape, and insulation as needed.  There are a number of how to videos and articles on how to find those leaks in your AC duct work.

Load Reduction

One of the first steps you should consider before upgrading your heating and cooling system is to reduce your load (i.e. how much heating and cooling you actually use). Reducing the load allows existing systems to operate less frequently and newer systems to be designed smaller, thereby lowering operating costs. Common load reduction strategies include:

  • Installing energy-efficient windows such as ENERGY STAR qualified windows
  • Upgrading lighting systems, Energy-efficient lighting systems emit less heat into conditioned space than older inefficient technology (read about our LED Exchange Program)
  • Selecting efficient office equipment and consumer electronics to reduce heat output.
  • Controlling ventilation to improve occupant comfort and save energy.
  • Keeping upstairs rooms cool with fans.
  • Shut out the sun to keep your home or office cooler by closing drapes or blinds.
  • Lighten up the interior: pale colors for walls can help reflect light and can reduce the number of lamps needed to light a room
  • Seal door and window cracks
  • Regularly replace heating and cooling filters
  • Don’t leave the lights on
  • Schedule maintenance on your home or office’s major systems to make sure they are running smoothly

Once you have addressed these areas, you can then make the most of your heating and cooling equipment dollars.

LED Light Exchange Program

led-bulbsIf you are a Georgetown Utility Systems (GUS) electric customer, we would like to invite you to try LED light bulbs for free!  Through the LED Exchange Program, GUS electric customers can trade-in 4 incandescent or 4 CFLs for 4 LED lights (10w) up to four times per calendar year at the Georgetown Municipal Complex (GMC).

Just stop by the GMC building to receive your free LED light bulbs.  There is a short request form you will need fill out when you get there, or if you would like to fill it out at home and bring it in, you can download it here. Remember to bring your old bulbs with you for proper recycling.

The Georgetown Municipal Complex is located at 300-1 Industrial and is open 8 AM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday except for scheduled holidays.

TIP – Take It Outside

After washing your clothes, save energy by hanging them outside to dry!

Clothes dryers are among the biggest energy hogs in a typical household.

Air drying your washed clothes, instead of putting them in your loud, energy sucking, house-heating electric dryer is a great way to save energy … and it is making a comeback.

People talk about recovering the lost art of line-drying clothes idea the way our grandparents did it, but the ease and efficiency of modern technology is enticing.  It may help to consider the other advantages of line-drying:

  • You don’t have to hang around the house to pull out the clothes and fold them before they wrinkle (or set the timer for 4 hours of tumble).  After drying, line dried clothes are ready anytime.
  • Clothes last longer because they don’t get overheated, which can lead to the shrinking of some things (pants) and the stretching out of others (anything with elastic.)
  • Rather than using detergents, whose chemical scents most often fall short of the fresh air they are trying to simulate, with line-dried clothes, you have the real thing!

Air drying your wash uses no electricity, and can be as easy as hanging a cord between two trees or as complicated as installing the big, spinning, pole-mounted one that looks like a huge TV antenna.

Of course, line-drying your clothes may cut down on the electric energy you use, but what about the extra energy needed from you?

The secret is to handle each piece of clothing as little as possible.  One way this can be done is by hanging your clothes on plastic hangers, right out of the washer, while they are still wet and hanging the hangers on the clothesline…even those pieces that don’t usually hang on coat hangers, like your leotards and superhero capes.  Smaller items, like socks and underwear can be placed on a drying rack.  This aids in drying and keeping the wrinkles out, as well as avoiding the little indention’s that the clothes pins can leave in some of the clothes.

Once the clothes are dry, you just grab the hanging clothes and move them to a closet.

Electric Department

Do you need to contact us about a power outage?  Call (512) 930-3640 (Customer Care).

The Energy Services Department is managed within Georgetown Utility Systems (GUS), by a Board of Directors that are appointed by City Council.  The Division consists of four separate sections; Energy Services, Electric Operations, Transmission & Distribution and Metering-AMR.  Continue reading “Electric Department”

Penalty Waiver Application

A customer who is disabled, or who is 60 years of age or older, may request, in writing, a standing waiver of the late penalty, for utility payments made after the due date.

The customer’s disabled status must be verified by an Award Letter from the Social Security Administration.  This waiver applies only to the account holder or their spouse.

Penalty Waiver Application

Utility Customer Confidentiality Request

You can now request that personal information contained in our utility records not be released to unauthorized persons.

The Texas legislature enacted a bill allowing publicly-owned utilities to give their customers the option of making the customer’s address, telephone number, personal identification, and billing and usage information, confidential.

Complete the form below and return it to

City of Georgetown Utility Office
P.O. Box 1430
Georgetown, Texas 78627

Utility Customer Confidentiality Request