The KPUB led Kerrville Area Solar Partners won $100,000 and was named a winner of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar in Your Community Challenge
Photo cutline: KPUB General Manager & CEO, Mike Wittler, pictured with the Leadership Kerr County Class #34 at the City of Kerrville’s solar site during the class’ environmental services day in January 2019.
Photo credit: Michael Anglin Photography
Kerrville, Texas, May 17, 2019—Today, Kerrville Public Utility Board (KPUB) announced that it won the best low-to-moderate income (LMI) program in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar in Your Community Challenge, 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 can serve low and moderate income households and the hosting nonprofit and provide competitively priced solar energy to these customers.
Over the past two years, they 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 is installing community solar projects which will total 3.72 MW AC. Distributing the output from these solar arrays to the nonprofits and the LMI 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. By allowing LMI 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.
“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.”
“Our nonprofit partners who are hosting the systems are eligible to use the other half of the energy produced and will see similar savings,” said Wittler. “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 Energy Resources, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE). Mo-Ranch, Schreiner University and the City of Kerrville have all agreed to host solar systems that cover areas ranging from about 5 to 15 acres, and Schneider Engineering has provided technical support throughout the project. KPUB initially selected Renewable Energy Systems (RES) as its solar developer partner for the solar sites in late 2017, and later in 2018, NextEra Energy Resources stepped in as the long-term owner to construct and operate and is nearing completion of the facilities.
“We owe our success to the professional support that we have received,” said Wittler. “I especially want to thank Ramsey Cripe of Schneider Engineering, Conor Goodson of Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and Katie Byler of NextEra Energy Resources; without them, we would not have succeeded.”
The Kerrville Area Solar Partners team is working alongside more than 170 teams from 40 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico to develop projects and programs that expand solar access to low-and-moderate-income households; nonprofit organizations; and state, local and tribal governments. If all of the Solar in Your Community Challenge teams successfully execute their business plans, the program would create 1.6 gigawatts of new solar by 2020 and serve as many as 900 nonprofits and nearly 50,000 households.
The teams worked with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office and ICMA, the Prize Administrator who helped to implement the program.
The Kerrville Public Utility Board (KPUB) was acquired by the City of Kerrville in 1987. KPUB serves approximately 22,750 customers throughout 146 square mile service area including Kerrville, Center Point, Ingram, Hunt, and surrounding areas in Kerr County. KPUB is overseen by a five-member board of trustees who serve without compensation and who are responsible to the City of Kerrville for the management and control of the system. KPUB is a responsive and efficient locally owned provider of reliable, high-quality utility service at the lowest responsible price.
About the Solar in Your Community Challenge
The Solar in Your Community Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy 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.
More information about the selected teams and the Solar in Your Community Challenge is at www.solarinyourcommunity.org.
About the Solar Energy Technologies Office
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.