The central Texas town of Georgetown attracted nationwide attention in 2016 when lawmakers announced the decision to obtain 100 percent of the city’s energy needs from renewable sources. But now, with ratepayers paying more for their electricity and the city filing a lawsuit to get out of one of its long-term solar power purchase agreements, questions are being raised about the viability of the 100 percent renewables strategy.
Georgetown, led by its mayor Dale Ross, concluded 20- and 25-year PPAs with wind and solar power providers. But in order to make the construction of the wind and solar farms financially viable, the city was compelled to purchase more energy than it actually used. Officials believed that the extra renewable energy could be sold on the open market to offset losses, and that it would be used up over the longer term by a projected growth in Georgetown’s population.
However, energy prices have dropped dramatically since the city’s PPAs were concluded, principally due to the natural gas boom. This has left the city selling its surplus energy at a loss and hiking up ratepayers’ energy bills to make up for it.