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Robson Ranch Roundup – March 2018

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Don Duff, Denton City Council, District 3

I addressed the Denton Charter committee last year urging them to have a Denton City Ethics ordinance.  Little did I know I would be on the City Council crafting the ordinance.  We have finished the fourth session and the draft of the ordinance will be available to the public before it is voted on by the Council.

Rental bikes are all over Denton are currently being left at places they do not belong.  City Council has passed a six month trial ordinance that requires bike companies to obtain a license.  All bikes will have GPS and a unique number.  When bikes are not being used, they will have to be in “virtual” corrals.

Campaigns for Denton City election for Mayor and City Council District 5 and 6 are underway.  I am endorsing Chris Watts for his third and final term as Mayor.  For District 5, I am endorsing Aaron “Fuzzy” Newquist.  For District 6, I am endorsing Frank Dudowicz.  Much more to come on the election.

Denton Municipal Electric (DME) has a goal of 100% renewables (wind and solar) by 2020.   Robson Ranch electricity does not come from DME, but the health of the City of Denton is very important.

In my opinion, Denton moving towards 100% renewables by 2020 is the best direction for two reasons.  The driving force is economic; cost of renewables producing electricity will be the lowest.  Minimum pollution from generation of Denton’s electricity is the second reason.

I have maintained that almost all electricity in Texas eventually will be from solar.  Coming from an electronic background dealing with semiconductors, I know when the volume of semiconductors (solar panels) goes up, prices plummet.  At this time, the electricity produced in Texas by solar is very small, maybe 1-2%.  Solar installations may slow down due to the 30% tariff on foreign-made solar panels recently imposed but this should be temporary.  Vast areas in Texas are available to place solar farms.  Owners of the land can maximize their profit by putting in solar farms.  The cost of mechanisms to point the panels directly towards the sun will also go down as the volume goes up.  The efficiency of future solar panels will also improve.

I don’t know how long it will be before solar dominates the supply of electricity.  But it could happen sooner than anyone expects.  Solar will dominate unless something better comes along, which I doubt.  When current wind turbines reach the end of their life, replacing them probably will not be economically feasible due to lower cost of solar.

Of course, the sun does not shine at night.  At this time batteries are not available to store power.  Batteries are currently too expensive and have a limited number of cycles.  In 5 to 10 years, that problem may be solved with batteries or something else.

Buying both solar and wind contracts to get close to 100% renewables by 2020 is the right thing to do.  Since there may be times we have more electricity than Denton’s load requires, the excess can be sold on the Texas grid.  At times Denton may require more than we have available.  If buying from the Texas grid is less that DEC’s cost to produce electricity, then we buy from the grid.  If the cost from the grid is higher, then DEC can be online in 5 minutes.

During the summer when shortages on the Texas grid cause the cost of electricity to spike, then DEC can supply to the Texas grid and we reap the profit.  By having DEC, the cost of Denton’s cost per megawatt hour (MWh) is capped by the cost of power from the DEC.  We can avoid spikes on the Texas grid that can be thousands of $ MWh.  With more coal plants shutting down, the spikes may occur more often especially in the hot summer.  Coal plants are not shutting down for environmental reasons; renewables and natural gas engines are more cost-effective.

Denton’s power supply will be very reliable due to having DEC.  There is a much higher purpose for having reliable electricity.  Not having electricity to homes in Denton can even be life-threating, especially during the hot summers or very cold winters.

Also very important, businesses thinking about moving to Denton or already here must have a reliable supply of electricity.

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