Denton City Hall exterior for stock photo use

Denton City Hall.

The Denton City Council rejected the latest contract offers from wind farms and solar energy storage projects that would have helped the city reach its goal to be powered by 100% renewable energy by next year.

Denton Municipal Electric staff recommended the move, saying that they would seek new bids for the projects. Coastal wind and solar energy storage are both key objectives in meeting the 100% goal.

In addition, Terry Naulty, DME’s assistant general manager, said that separate contract offers for 25 megawatts of solar power were still being evaluated.

“Solar is more cost effective and a better fit to meet our objectives,” Naulty said.

DME sent out requests for proposals last year seeking different kinds of renewable energy than are currently in the city’s portfolio.

Denton has contracts for 150 megawatts of renewable energy from West Texas wind farms, Naulty said. Most of that energy is delivered overnight and tends to drop off during the day, when the city needs it most.

On the other hand, wind farms along the Gulf Coast tend to deliver more energy during the day, making them an attractive addition to renewable energy portfolios, Naulty said.

However, none of the wind farms that bid on DME’s request were true coastal wind farms, Naulty said. When DME reissues its request, the utility will be sure to specify that it is seeking coastal wind for its portfolio.

Similarly, a round of bids for solar energy combined with battery storage came in much higher than DME expected, even though utility officials knew it was a speculative project, Naulty said.

Still, the utility will rebid with specifications that both the 5-megawatt solar farm and companion 1-megawatt battery storage be in Denton. Such specification should be more cost-effective for ratepayers.

“We’d operate the battery to reduce our peak demand,” Naulty said. “Typically, batteries are used for voltage support.”

In other words, deploying the megawatt of electricity kept in battery storage wouldn’t address transmission but the distribution of electricity within the city.

In a somewhat related item, the City Council also split on whether to endorse a U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution calling for federal action on climate change.

Mayor Chris Watts was at the conference in Hawaii and did not attend the council meeting. He asked for the council’s guidance on whether Denton supported the resolution. A motion to do so failed, 3-2, with council members Jesse Davis, Gerard Hudspeth and John Ryan opposing the measure.

“I have a problem with a lot of this [resolution], but 1.5 degrees is a little out of our lane,” Hudspeth said, speaking of the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “I understand we can be good citizens, but to me, that’s a bridge too far.”

Council member Paul Meltzer joined Deb Armintor in voting in support of the national resolution. Armintor disputed the notion that mayors and cities would be doing something beyond their authority in calling for action.

“I just see this as a group trying to use the power we all have as individuals when we come together in groups,” Armintor said.

Council member Keely Briggs was also absent Tuesday.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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