Energy company and San Augustine take steps to bring solar plant - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Energy company and San Augustine take steps to bring solar plant to town

Source: KTRE staff Source: KTRE staff
Source: KTRE staff Source: KTRE staff
Source: IPS Source: IPS

A Colorado based company is hoping to make the city of San Augustine the latest town to bring in solar energy for its customers.

Thursday night, the city council and Integrated Power Systems, Inc. signed off on a Memorandum of Understanding that allowed the sides to move forward with research into a solar plant that would supply renewable energy to the small town.

"It is our intention for y'all to not only be known as one of the oldest towns in Texas but also one of the greenest, IPS Director of Development Joseph Lavigne told the crowd.

If built, the city would pay a price of $70 per MWh with no escalation in price for the next 25 years. The current MOU that was signed will be in effect for 12 months.

"When you talk solar you are talking a green option to sustainable energy," Lavigne said. "We're happy to be a part of that and we think the people of San Augustine would appreciate the cost savings."

In the presentation, IPS CEO Dr. Neway Argaw told the city the plant could be structured to where it only produced a set amount of energy that way the city would not be charged for energy they did not need.

The city is currently getting its energy from the Deep East Texas Electric Co-Op. A Spokesperson for the non-profit did raise some concern at the meeting.

"To be real honest, we have not had the opportunity to see the MOU, information about the business or any technical details so we can't comment on those," spokesperson Brittney Ford said. "What we can comment on is that the city does have an agreement with us . We exist to serve our members and the city of San Augustine is a member so we treat them like we treat you at your home so we have concern for our members and we want to make sure they investigate everything and do their due diligence and make sure this is in the best interest for the people of San Augustine."

Ford said the city has to give a three year notice if they plan on canceling the agreement they have with them. Ford was unaware if the city could be under a contract with both groups. She did say it is believed the solar plant would not be compatible to hook up to the current grid structure.

For San Augustine mayor Leroy Hughes, any move is positive if it can bring the city out of the red.

"The city will work better at all times when you have funds you can use," Hughes said. "When you are just running on bare empty it is very difficult. We want to be a progressive city."

At this time, it is unclear on where the plant would be placed. The current MOU is non-binding and allows for either side to back out if they feel it is the best option. The group from IPS did tour the city and looked at prospective sites before the council meeting. The group said they have similar plants up and running in other areas including Austin.

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