Some say they do everything bigger in Texas. That’s certainly true of Georgetown, Texas where an innovative proposal to ensure grid reliability is under consideration. Georgetown, a suburb of Austin is eyeing a proposal to pay homeowners to go solar. Georgetown, which already runs on 100% renewable energy, wants to generate enough electricity locally so the city can stop importing power from outside of city limits. The proposal, if successful, would make Georgetown entirely energy independent.
Georgetown’s virtual power plant, an idea whose time has come
The city of Georgetown’s plan is to pay property owners to allow the city-owned utility to install solar panels on their roof, and then feed the energy they generate into the city grid. Residents that allowed this would receive either lease payments or royalties. Residents taking advantage of this program would not receive free electricity, nor would it reduce their electrical bill. They would still pay the city-owned utility company for electricity.
What Georgetown is proposing is called a virtual power plant. The idea behind a virtual power plant is the amount of electricity generated by all those rooftops would equal what you’d get from a power plant. The obvious advantage of such a system is that you don’t actually have to build a power plant. The virtual power plant would combine the power generated from city-owned solar rooftops with that of homeowners that own or lease their own system to produce enough power to supply Georgetown with all of its electricity needs.
The Mayor’s Challenge: Seeking innovation at the municipal level
Bloomberg Philanthropies sponsors The Mayor’s Challenge, which is a nationwide competition among cities that encourages those cities to uncover bold, innovative ideas to solve the tough problems cities face. Georgetown received $100,000 from the contest to explore its virtual power plant concept.
Solar system owners would be part of Georgetown’s virtual power plant
The key takeaway for Georgetown residents is that participation in the city program would not cut their utility costs. To do that, you’d still need to buy or lease your own solar system. You’d then enjoy low-cost electricity from your solar system and be able to supply some power to Georgetown’s virtual power plant. It makes a great deal of sense to go solar in Georgetown Texas even before the city gets its virtual power plant off the ground.