Georgetown began operating on 100 percent renewable solar- and wind-generated energy on Sunday, July 1, when the city received electricity from the Buckthorn solar plant in West Texas. The 154 megawatt solar farm, owned by NRG Yield and operated by NRG Renewables, provides power for the City utility, making Georgetown one of the largest cities in the U.S. to be 100 percent renewable.
At a ribbon-cutting event at the Buckthorn facility (photo), Mayor Dale Ross said, “Buckthorn represents more than just energy. It represents a defining moment in history when renewable energy officially became competitive with fossils fuels on the cost of energy.”
Georgetown officials were joined at the ribbon cutting by representatives from Pecos County; NRG Energy; Wells Fargo, who provided financing for the solar farm; and Swinerton Renewable Energy, the solar facility construction contractor.
The 1,250-acre Buckthorn solar plant located 15 miles north of Fort Stockton contains 1.7 million solar panels. The panels are mounted on a single-axis tracking system that rotate over the course of each day to maintain a 90-degree angle to the sun in order to maximize output. The plant is in Pecos County, which has the second-highest radiance factor in the state. Radiance is a rating for available sunlight.
In addition to the Buckthorn solar farm, Georgetown’s energy providers include Spinning Spur 3, a wind farm near Amarillo owned by EDF Renewable Energy, and the Southwest Mesa and South Trent wind farms in West Texas owned by AEP.
As of July 1, Georgetown took another step forward in continuing to provide customers with 100 percent renewable energy. Together the wind and solar contracts provide enough energy to cover the City’s electric usage. Since April 2017, Georgetown has been 100 percent renewable based on the state’s system of accounting for renewable power based on renewable energy credits.