Our Prototyping Journey
How we are testing our idea
As the largest U.S. city to run entirely on #renewableenergy, @georgetowntx serves as a top model for #greencities. Now, as part of the #MayorsChallenge, their team is working on ways to create a #virtualpowerplant to generate its electricity locally.11:45 AM - 30 Mar 2018 BloombergCities
"One-hundred percent of Georgetown's energy already comes from renewable sources, but that includes a wind farm in the panhandle and a solar farm in west Texas. We were thinking, 'Boy, instead of being regulated by the state grid and relying on transmitting energy long distances, wouldn't it be cool if we made all our power here in Georgetown?'" Jack Daly, Assistant to the City Manager, KXAN
Georgetown will test the demand for leasing rooftop space to install solar panels through a virtual power plant model. The city will gather feedback from customers through a number of ways such as user rankings, A/B tests of incentive packages and reaction cards to the physical aesthetics.
Our idea will greatly impact the world by reducing the reliance on coal and natural gas plants and changing how electric infrastructure is developed.Jack Daly, Assistant to the City Manager
What we’re discovering through testing
Georgetown tested their idea at Red Poppy, a local festival which gets around 75,000 visitors over three days. To entice people to fill in one of their three surveys, the team set up a ‘money grab’ booth, where respondents could grab fake money and use it to buy a prize. From the responses, the team learned that people were less interested in City Hall paying them for the use of their roofs, and were willing to let them use it for free so they could have reliable back up energy during a storm.
Last week the City hosted its 2nd @BloombergDotOrg #MayorsChallenge focus group to get feedback and help shape our #virtualpowerplant idea to generate #solarenergy here in #GeorgetownTX. The idea also includes the use of battery backup power. More at http://bloomberg.georgetown.org4:00 PM - 25 Jun 2018 georgetowntx
The only time the money machine stopped running was when someone new was getting in it. People lined up down the street to take our survey.Judity Mattocks, Conservation Marketing Coordinator
There can be a feeling that sometimes, citizens are distrustful of government. So when the team was testing with residents how they would want their system to be installed and maintained, they were surprised to find that residents overwhelmingly trusted The City of Georgetown to complete the work, rather than a third party organization.
Georgetown’s innovative idea involves developing the “virtual power plant.”
Mayor Dale Ross on @CBSThisMorning spoke with @NPRinskeep about the City's 100% renewable energy transition and the @BloombergDotOrg #MayorsChallenge #virtualpowerplant idea that would generate that green energy here in #GeorgetownTX. Here's the story: https://www.cbsnews.com/video/texas-at-forefront-of-renewable-energy/ …11:26 AM - 22 Jun 2018 georgetowntx
What we've learned
Working on the Mayors Challenge has made the team feel much more comfortable introducing lower fidelity prototypes to the community. The positive response they recieved from communities, and the useful insight they gathered around installing solar panels in the city, has inspired the team to transfer this mindset to other projects. During a recent project focusing on transport, the team was able to take an open-ended approach to the problem, which was a new mode for the city.
We’re more open to pivoting and seeing what happens, which we weren’t as comfortable with before. Being unafraid of failure has been really impactful.Jack Daly, Assistant to the City Manager