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Renewable Energy FAQs

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is defined as energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight and wind.

Why is Georgetown moving towards Renewable Energy?

By going 100 percent renewable, Georgetown reduces pollution, saves water, both at a competitive price. Georgetown Utility Systems seeks competitive power prices with low regulatory risk and price risk to its customers. The long term, flat cost, and zero carbon risk of the solar and wind contracts make Renewable Energy the right choice.

What is the City population in Georgetown?

Overall City Population: 54,000+

How many electric customers does Georgetown have?

Electric Customers: 24,000+

What is the date when Georgetown will be 100% renewable?

Switchover to 100% Renewable Energy: 2018

How does this affect my bill?

The contract energy price is fixed at a flat rate for many years. So, the largest portion of the kilowatt hour charge has now been fixed for a substantial period of time, leaving only the base charge and a small portion of the kWh charge susceptible to inflation and regulatory costs

Where does this energy come from?

NRG Energy and EDF Renewable Energy are the contract providers of the energy. The solar plant is located in West Texas and the and wind plant is located in the Texas panhandle about 50 miles west of Amarillo.

It’s a mix of 50/50 wind and solar.

What happens if the wind doesn’t blow in the Panhandle or the sun doesn’t shine in West Texas?

Given the wind history of the Panhandle, the cloudless days in West Texas, and the amount of energy we have under contract, we know that our wind and solar farms will be able to provide our power throughout the day. If both resources were not producing simultaneously—an unlikely event—the lights would stay on because the Texas grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, will ensure power is available to meet demand.

Do the contracts anticipate a growing Georgetown?

Georgetown expects to generate almost twice the power it needs from the wind and solar plants in the early years of the contracts. For the next 20 years as Georgetown grows, the wind and solar plants will continue to produce more renewable power than we consume. Georgetown will sell off the excess power into the ERCOT market.

Are there any other benefits to Georgetown going to renewable energy?

Wind and solar now cost less than building a new coal or natural gas plant and have no risks related to fuel costs or water shortages. We know the frustration that comes with natural gas price spikes and electricity bills go through the roof. Conventional power plants consume large amounts of water. Turning to solar and wind will eliminate impacts on the state’s water supply, another key goal for the city.

The 194-megawatt Spinning Spur 3 wind farm owned by EDF Renewable Energy that is 50 miles west of Amarillo came online in October 2015. The NRG Energy solar farm in West Texas is under construction and is scheduled to be operating in 2018.

So when someone asks why you think your town is so wonderful, you can tell them, “Georgetown is not only beautiful but it has one of the largest municipally owned utilities in the U.S. to supply customers with 100 percent solar and wind energy!”

Want more detail? Click Here for the Fact Sheet.

How much energy will be produced?

294 Megawatts (AC) of power in total. Georgetown currently has a peak load of 145 Megawatts.

How do the wind and solar farms power Georgetown?

The farms are located in the western and northwestern part of Texas. ERCOT built high-capacity transmission lines between West Texas and Central Texas (really all of the State) called the CREZ lines. These transmission lines were built to transmit energy from Competitive Renewable Energy Zones in West Texas and the Panhandle where wind farms are located to the large cites in the middle of the state where there is the highest energy demand. Georgetown has purchased the rights to use those lines to move the power to Georgetown for consumption.

When Georgetown sought the lowest cost power provider in 2013, the wind farm (Spinning Spur 3) happened to be just that, cheaper than any other source. However that left Georgetown looking for a power source that produced during the peak use daylight hours. In 2014 Georgetown concluded that the cheapest source of power for a long-term contract covering only daylight hours was a solar farm. The combination of the wind and solar farm has resulted in lower cost power than any coal, gas, or nuclear bid Georgetown has reviewed while seeking long term contracts.

Current Energy Providers:

Our current providers of energy are, American Electric Power (AEP), Garland Power & Light (GP&L), JP Morgan (JPM), and Έlectricité de France (EDF).  We have contracts with others, but are not currently taking power from them.

GUS System

Peak DemandAnnual Power Usage2014 Renewable %
145 Megawatts575,000 Megawatt hours4.2 percent

 

What power source was behind the power purchase agreement the city had until 2012?

Before and through most of 2012, LCRA supplied about 90 percent of our power, and GUS bought the rest from various suppliers and the open market.

What is the city’s peak load, and when does it occur?

The City’s annual peak load is currently about 145 megawatts, and it usually occurs between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. during the month of August.

Is the NRG Energy solar plant already built? Will the city be buying all of the power the facility produces?

The NRG Energy solar plant is near Fort Stockton in West Texas where there is a great solar radiance profile.  This farm is being built and is scheduled to begin operations in 2018.

What percentage of renewable energy does GUS currently supply its customers?

In 2014 our supply finished at 4.2% renewable.

From October 2015 through October 2016, the Spinning Spur 3 wind plant west of Amarillo produced more energy than Georgetown consumed, making Georgetown 100 percent renewable for the first year of the wind plant.

When the solar plant comes online in 2018, Georgetown will be 100 percent renewable in our energy consumption, even if a hot summer produces record demand.