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.