Texas-based public power utility Kerrville Public Utility Board (KPUB) was awarded a winner in the best low-to-moderate income program in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar in Your Community Challenge.
The challenge was part of a $5 million prize competition from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Technologies Office that aims to expand solar electricity access.
The KPUB led Kerrville Area Solar Partners team won $100,000 and national recognition for their new community solar systems that will serve low-and-moderate income households and the hosting nonprofit and provide competitively priced solar energy to these customers. KPUB won the award in May.
KPUB celebrated the national award and the completion of all four of its solar sites alongside their Kerrville Area Solar Partners with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that was hosted by their local chamber of commerce at their fourth solar site, Schreiner University, on June 12.
The Kerrville Area Solar Partners team developed a program that enabled low-and-moderate-income households in the KPUB service area to go solar. Through a novel approach partnering with local nonprofits, KPUB installed community solar projects totaling 3.72 MW AC.
Distributing the output from these solar arrays to the nonprofits and the low-to-moderate income households is in keeping with KPUB’s mission to be a “provider of reliable, high-quality utility services at the lowest responsible price” to 22,750 customers in Kerrville and the surrounding communities, KPUB said.
By allowing low-to-moderate income and community nonprofits to pursue solar through a virtual net metering program, KPUB’s team can support their community and their customers by helping them reduce their monthly electric bills while promoting green energy in, and around, Kerrville, the utility said.
“This is a great example of how public power utilities are able to find unique and innovative solutions for their customers,” said Mike Wittler, General Manager and CEO of KPUB. “Our program will help hundreds of low-and-moderate-income households by providing them competitively priced solar energy; half of the energy produced by these systems is dedicated to serving these customers, and as a group, they will save about $50,000 per year.”
Wittler said, “Our nonprofit partners who are hosting the systems are eligible to use the other half of the energy produced and will see similar savings. All of our customers benefit because the solar systems will reduce costs associated with summer peak loads, resulting in savings of over $200,000 per year.”
KPUB’s partners in this effort include Mo-Ranch, Schreiner University, the City of Kerrville, Schneider Engineering, Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and NextEra. Mo-Ranch, Schreiner University and the City of Kerrville have all agreed to host solar systems that cover areas ranging from about 4 to 15 acres, and Schneider Engineering has provided technical support throughout the project. KPUB initially selected RES as its solar developer partner for the solar sites in late 2017, and later in 2018, NextEra stepped in as the long-term owner to construct and operate and is nearing completion of the facilities.
The Solar in Your Community Challenge, sponsored by the DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and administered by International City/County Management Association, is a $5 million prize competition that aims to expand solar access to low-and-moderate-income households; and state, local and tribal governments; and nonprofit organizations.
KPUB serves approximately 22,750 customers throughout 146 square mile service area including Kerrville, Center Point, Ingram, Hunt, and surrounding areas in Kerr County.