Georgetown attracts international spotlight, Al Gore with renewable energy

A Williamson County city has gained world-wide attention after choosing to move to 100 percent renewable energy.

An international spotlight is on Central Texas as Georgetown hosts the Grid Next conference of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries.

Former Vice President Al Gore was the keynote speaker Monday.

The Williamson County city has gained worldwide attention after choosing to move 100 percent to renewable energy.

"We're worldwide; today we had a crew from Japan filming, and did an interview with commissioner of Wales on UK last Friday, so we truly are an international kind of story... people have a lot of interest in what's going on in Georgetown," said Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross.

The city is currently using wind power from a wind farm West of Amarillo and will use a new solar panel unit in West Texas. It's scheduled to go online in 2018.

You don't have to go very far from the Georgetown Square to find sources of renewable energy.

"I think it's good for its business," said Thunder Cloud Subs manager Nathan Wolfers. "Either way we have to move to something like that. There's no way we can supply or make that much energy with doing those things.”

The Georgetown location uses solar panels on the roof of their building.

"I probably run a lower energy than a store a third my size," said  Wolfers.

Nathan Wolfers is one of the many people in Georgetown who supports the city's efforts of moving 100 percent to renewable energy.

"There is a sense of pride in Georgetown because we're innovative and we're doing things that very few have accomplished so far," said Mayor Dale Ross.

Mayor Dale Ross said they wanted to have a long-term plan.

"We were able to design contracts for 20 to 25 years, with fixed pricing it doesn't go up over the term of the contract," said Ross.

And it's that move, that attracted the GridNext conference of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance to Georgetown for the second year in a row.

"It's great for economic development; it's great for our city; we're doing something that's very very positive not on an economic basis, but an environment basis,” said Ross.

And everyone is asking how they're doing it.

"A lot of people come from Europe and other locations and they expect to walk out and see wind turbines and solar panels," said Jim Briggs, the General Manager of Utilities for Georgetown.

Briggs says right now they’re contracted to produce more Kilowatt hours than the city consumes on an annual basis.

He said they made the initial decision when natural gas prices were very high, and said it was possible by a drop in prices for renewable energy.

According to Briggs, he said the move is to regulate the electric markets.

"It's not just a local issue, it's a statewide issue,” said Briggs.

As for the average customer, he said their bill should stay the same.

"The baseline rate has not adjusted because of the energy portion in a number of years,” said Briggs.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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