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2022 contract will bring renewable energy to Waco city buildings, operations

2022 contract will bring renewable energy to Waco city buildings, operations

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City of Waco facilities will move to renewable electricity sources in 2022, thanks to a contract with MP2 Energy Texas approved last week.

MP2 Energy will provide electricity from three wind power companies and two solar farms. The city’s price for power will be 3.226 cents per kilowatt-hour, about 14.6% less than its current contractual rate of 3.776 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The city expects to save about $414,000 annually compared to the current contract, but the annual savings would have been about $100,000 more on a plan using electricity from any source, City Manager Wiley Stem III told the city council Tuesday.

“Although we could have achieved additional savings by buying brown power, the cost difference is more than justified when considering water conservation and air quality,” Stem said. “This council and past councils have led efforts toward improving and protecting air quality in our region. Waco leadership is also dedicated to water conservation.”

Stem said the move to renewable energy will save thousands of acre-feet of water. One acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons. Collecting and processing oil, coal and natural gas uses large amounts of water.

The seven-year contract takes effect in April 2022.

“It will be business as usual, and as users we will see no difference,” Director of General Services Kelly Holecek said.

The electricity will power city buildings, traffic lights and other city operations, though most city buildings use natural gas for heating and will continue doing so.

“This would be HVAC and electrical lighting,” Holecek said. “There is still natural gas in a lot of our buildings. We have a lot of old facilities, so this does not include any conversion at this point.”

Bruenning’s Breeze Wind, Chapman Wind, Stella Wind, Phoebe Energy Solar, and Prospero Solar will provide the power. Holecek said as the city builds new facilities and renovates old ones, it will consider whether to go with all-electric buildings.

“This number does not take into account the converting of any city buildings from natural gas to electric,” Holecek said.

The city has checked pricing on green energy over the past decade, waiting for prices to become comparable.

“When we’ve checked before, there’s been a much larger difference,” Holecek said.

As officials discussed the difference in price during Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman John Kinnaird said sustainability and affordability have to be balanced against each other.

“We want to be responsible, we want to invest in sustainability, we want to do things that are good for the city, but we also want to be very cognizant of the fact that a lot of times, it does cost more,” Kinnaird said.

Mayor Kyle Deaver said the contract is the first tangible result of an energy guidance document presented to the council in November.

“I’m very pleased with the contract,” Deaver said.

Alan Northcutt, director of Waco Friends of Peace/Climate, has been attending city council meetings regularly to speak about climate change during the hearing of visitors. He did so again Tuesday, commending the contract.

“I have something positive to say tonight,” Northcutt said. “It’s clear the inspiration, the impetus for this started with the people of Waco.”

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