GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) – A central Texas town that already uses 100 percent renewable energy is working out a plan to generate more electricity locally so it can stop buying power to meet demand.
The city of Georgetown wants to start paying property owners to let the city-owned utility install solar panels on their roofs and feed the energy into the broader power grid. The money would come either in the form of lease payments or royalties paid to eligible residential and commercial property owners.
“I think it’s a very exciting chance,” Bob Weimer said. He lives in Sun City and said when he heard about the proposal, he immediately contacted city leaders to say he wants to be a part of it.
“This is just a normal, natural step for us to become and stay one of the greener cities in Texas,” said Weimer, who doesn’t currently have solar panels.
The city mapped out every property in its jurisdiction and cataloged how much sun each one gets. City leaders sent the resulting map as part of a grant application to Bloomberg Philanthropies, which selected Georgetown as one of 35 “champion cities” in its 2018 Mayors Challenge, “a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face,” according to the contest’s website.
Georgetown got $100,000 from the competition to plan out and refine their project, which they’re calling a “virtual power plant.” Later this year all the finalists will resubmit their ideas and will compete to win four $1 million prizes and one $5 million grand prize.
“Our folks in the electric utility have been kicking this idea around for a few years,” Jack Daly, assistant to the city manager, told KXAN. The Mayors Challenge was a good opportunity to jumpstart the project with grant money, he said.