GONZALES — The City of Gonzales is considering expanding renewable energy produced throughout the city with the aid of ZeroCity LLC, OurEnergy, NHA Advisors and Hilltop Securities.
"There's really two things that stand in the way of economic development in this City right now," said Martin Carver, managing partner of ZeroCity. "The Industrial Park is really hampered because PG&E has unlimited capacity to deliver power there. The other thing that's on the horizon is infrastructure upgrades are going to be expensive."
According to Carver, the Industrial Park customers are expecting to receive minimal services from PG&E in the next two to three years and will only be to a certain point. If any new businesses come in during that time, the business would be looking at upgrades greater in degree.
The Waste Water Treatment Plant will also be expecting new state regulations dealing with water quality and will cause expenses to rise up in the tens of millions of dollars.
"Part of what we've done with this renewable project is to try to get down the line what it can do to help solve these problems," said Carver. "The basic approach of what we're talking about is construction wind, solar, battery storage, co-generation locally and get this power directly to the customers in the Industrial Park."
Carver says the new renewable energy sources will provide a long-term revenue source for the City and continue the Gonzales Grows Green Sustainability initiative. The City and ZeroCity are in the process of finding a financial partner for the City to come in and fund, construct, operate and maintain a power supply system to provide power to the City. The City will then sell that power at competitive rates to select customers.
"Developing power locally is not cheap," said Carver. "Building smaller scale facilities, multiple control systems, all the backup that's needed all add costs to the price of the system."
The areas the City and ZeroCity are looking at to use for renewable energy is near the Waste Water Treatment plant where there is area to install solar panels and battery storage. The area is not ideal for wind turbines because it is too close to bird migration patterns.
A second area of consideration is the drainage basin that is surrounded by a ring that would be a good place for co-generational units. The northwest corner could serve as an area to put in a third wind turbine.
The last area of consideration is the Johnson Canyon Landfill, which has some property that could be used for solar panels, wind turbines and landfill gas that can be pumped down to the City to bring renewable power.
"Patrick is very keen on those and working with the city," Carver said. "This might be more of a phase two work ,but nonetheless an important part of it."
The conceptual plan was originally presented at the July 2 City Council meeting and was approved for more development and research.