Georgetown, Texas, United States of America. Once in the middle of the oil boom State in the twentieth century. But by 2017 the city of 54,000 people aims to be 100% powered by renewable energy thanks to a deal with SunEdison. Just shows how the times they are-a-changing (as Bob Dylan sings).
The renewable power will come from both sun and wind- 150MW from a solar plant and 144MW from a new wind farm. Is this just a green fad? No! The deal is for a long period; a quarter of a century and the local utility provider says that it has chosen wind and solar power because of three reasons, all good ones: It is more reliable, it uses less water, and, wait for it, it is cheaper! The deal with SunEdison will provide electricity at a lower overall cost than the City of Georgetown’s previous wholesale power contracts – and will supply more than 9,500 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy to Georgetown rate payers through to 2041.
The wind side of things comes from a 20 year deal with with EDF for 144MW, to be drawn from the Spinning Spur 3 wind farm, now being built some 50 miles west of Amarillo. The wind power should be available from next year.
Spinning Spur II commenced construction last year using 87 GE 1.85-megawatt, 87-meter rotor wind turbines.
Pinch yourself- we have a major city-owned utility in America’s Number One Oil State that has selected to supply its customers with renewable energy, because it’s cheaper and more reliable. This power purchase agreement makes Georgetown Utility Systems one of the largest municipal utilities in the United States to be 100 per cent renewable powered. What would JR Ewing have said?!!
The fact that the city is using a combination of solar and wind power means that maximum versatility can be achieved. The sun will normally peak from midday to late afternoon, especially in the Summer months, while the winds tend to blow in the evenings and early mornings. This combination is well-matched to provide energy to meet all demand patterns of the city. Solar power during the day, wind power at other times.
SunEdison have expressed the hope is that the Georgetown example will act as a source of inspiration for other US cities that hope to become 100 per cent renewables.
The plan is that on completion of the solar plants, SunEdison will offer the project for investment to TerraForm Power an operator of clean energy power plants.
The icing on this green project cake is that construction will create nearly 800 jobs in the Lone Star State.