Written by Kellie Bucy
Published Mar. 2, 2017
The hometown of the man credited with bringing electricity to the area is teaming up with Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) to bring solar power to the area.
PEC formally announced on February 27 they are partnering with the City of Johnson City to construct two one-megawatt solar facilities off of HWY 290 on City owned property.
At a Government Leaders Appreciation dinner in 2015, PEC CEO, John Hewa gave a presentation about the cooperative’s plans to launch several solar farms in their service territory. Johnson City Mayor, Dawn Capra approached him after the presentation to discuss PEC working with Johnson City. Mayor Capra reports the city had 19 acres available for a possible solar site.
“We felt that a community and a utility could work together to deliver more options for cost-effective sustainable power.” Said Ingmar Sterzing, PEC Vice President of Power Supply and Energy Services about the partnership with local municipalities.
The facility will cover 14 acres of city owned property off HWY 290 and will consist of 5,700 solar panels.
“The project will benefit our city from both an economic and environmental standpoint and we are excited to be the future home to two state-of-the-art facilities.” said Capra.
Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES) will oversee development and operation of the facilities. “They are leasing the property from the city and will pay property taxes that benefit our city and school district”, said Capra. “The facility will be constructed at no cost to the city.”
According to a PEC press release, the site was determined to be ideal for a solar array due to its position near a PEC distribution line, the site topology and its orientation to the sun. They also conducted an environmental study that indicates the equipment will not have an adverse effect on native plants and animals. PEC also said the design is optimized to reduce the environmental footprint.
While a member of Congress in 1937, Former President Lyndon B. Johnson, worked to bring electricity to the Johnson City area and the rural Texas Hill Country. “Since Johnson City is the hometown of President Johnson...we thought that having Johnson City be the first in PEC’s plans for solar power throughout their region would be [appropriate.]”, said Capra.
Ground will break on the site between May and June of this year, PEC reports construction will take approximately two to four months, power from the facilities should reach distribution lines this fall.
The Johnson City facility is one of many that PEC has planned across their territory. When completed, their goal is to generate 15 megawatts of solar power. PEC stated, this power will be utilized in peak periods when market energy prices are highest.
“We are truly excited about this solar generation project and about starting it in Johnson City, where PEC was formed almost 80 years ago. It’s truly symbolic of our forward-thinking strategy rooted in our founding principles.”, said Sterzing.
The largest solar farm in Texas is “Alamo 5” in Uvalde. “Alamo 5” went online in April 2016. This site produces 95 megawatts of solar power.
Energy experts report Texas to have the greatest wind and solar power potential in the country.