Lafayette Utilities System is seeking to diversify its power sources into renewable energy by purchasing up to 300 megawatts of solar power.
LUS announced Friday it released a request for proposals through The Energy Authority, a public power affiliate that will administer the request.
The RFP indicates the successful bidder must guarantee the solar power is available to LUS by Dec. 31, 2023. LUS is seeking a purchased power agreement lasting from 10-20 years from a solar power provider in Louisiana.
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Some residents of Lafayette have been pushing city leaders to transition away from fossil fuels and utilize more renewable energy. As recently as 2016, solar power wasn't an option for LUS, Jeffrey Stewart, LUS Engineering and Power Supply manager, said Friday.
Residents repeated their requests for renewable energy sources in 2019 during hearings on the LUS Integrated Resource Plan, which determined solar was the most cost effective renewable energy source for the city and now may be the time to make the transition. There are several solar power producers in the state, Stewart said, and others are in the planning stages.
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"In just four years, renewables, solar power, has become very achievable for us," he said.
Customers should not experience an increase in their utility bills, Stewart said, or a decrease in service because of the solar power purchases.
Stewart said he does not know the cost, but it should be be at or below current fuel rates, and LUS should not have to build anything to accommodate the switch.
The all-time peak electricity usage among LUS customers was 500 megawatts, Stewart said, so 300 megawatts from solar power will meet more than half the city's needs.
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"To take this big of a step," he said, "Lafayette should be proud."