Your city council next meets on Tuesday, December 15th. We will have a work session at 1PM followed by a regular meeting of council at 6:30PM. AGENDA LINKED HERE.
A few items of note:
PUBLIC DISCUSSION ON RENEWABLE DENTON AND A CALL FOR COMPETITIVE ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS TO GAS PLANTS
On Tuesday night citizens will have the opportunity to enter into a public discussion with council on the Renewable Denton Plan. Council has previously indicated a willingness to hold off on a decision until January/February of 2016. However it should be pointed out that as of this moment the Renewable Denton Plan resolution is on the agenda for Tuesday as a possibility for adoption. As such we have our first glimpse at what that resolution might look like: http://denton-tx.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=f0732fd4-d043-4ca1-8739-dd503afc8836.pdf
The Renewable Denton Plan stands at the messy crossroads of economics, environmental stewardship, and rapid growth. Look beyond the feel good headline of going to a remarkable 70% mix of renewable energy consumption and you quickly realize that getting there has been tied to making a sizeable investment of money and time in fossil fuel technology (2 local natural gas power plants). Even as world leaders and billionaire philanthropist throw everything they have at lessening the world’s dependence on fossil fuels we have been presented with the limited choice of accepting fossil fuels as the only way to increase our renewables here in Denton.
On January 6, 2015 (prior to my taking office) city council gave DME direction to devise a plan to reliably and cost effectively increase the amount of renewable energy we consume in Denton. I completely understand and agree that we have to provide cost effective, reliable electricity to our citizens and businesses. I agree that having reliable backup energy is a key to increasing our renewables. And I agree that DME has provided a plan that meets council’s criteria. However, I am not convinced that the Renewable Denton Plan, as proposed, is the best option at meeting council’s criteria. We have bright and dedicated staff at DME. It has been my firsthand experience that when our city pushes DME to take more time and find alternatives to things like controversial substation siting and transmission line routing that they are often able to find a better way – it just requires time. Council issued its directive to DME on January 6, 2015. On October 6, 2015 DME released the Renewable Denton Plan. I think we should allow the best and brightest at DME more than 9 months to develop such an important plan, which will have far reaching economic and environmental implications locally and globally.
Gas plants do not feel like progressive renewable energy leadership. To that end I, was encouraged to find out today that there is at least one known leading provider of industrial/municipal grade battery storage who has stepped forward and asked to be allowed to competitively bid against the $250M worth of quick-start gas plants DME seeks to build as part of the Renewable Denton Plan. Are there more firms that could provide backup solutions that will satisfy our criteria of keeping rates competitive, energy reliable, and increase our renewables? There very well may be. We should find out. I am going to be calling for my fellow council members to ask DME to issue requests for qualifications and proposals from any firm who feels that they have the ability to provide our city with a means of reliable on demand backup energy (including but not limited to reciprocating engines, single cycle turbines, flow batteries, lithium-ion batteries, compressed air energy storage, etc.).
I have heard from many citizens on this issue and I am looking to hear from more. I appreciate that Denton is a diverse population with many different viewpoints. My views are informed by my own knowledge of the subject, what I think we should do, and what I am hearing from you the citizens that I represent. I need to hear from more of you and our council needs to hear from more of you tomorrow night. Please participate in this public hearing Tuesday evening. At the very least please email council with your questions, opinions, and requests for consideration regarding the Renewable Denton Plan.
TAKING OWNERSHIP OF McKINNEY STREET (FM 426) AND IMRPOVING PEDESTRIAN SAFETY FOR CITIZENS/STUDENTS
The portion of McKinney Street running from Woodrow Lane all the way to where McKinney meets our eastern city limits is the responsibility of TXDoT and has been dangerous for pedestrians and motorist for a number of years – notably there have been incidents where Ryan High students on their way to and from school have been struck by vehicles. This stretch of road is slated for $18M in TXDoT improvements (widening from 2 lanes to 4 lanes and addition of sidewalks). In order to more quickly and efficiently make this improvements we need to take ownership of the road. We will be voting to allow the City of Denton to work with TXDoT to take possession of this portion of McKinney Street. Along with this transfer of ownership we would work to secure the $18M in already allocated state funds for the lane widening and sidewalks. This proposed action would accelerate the solution to a 20-year-old problem… and can’t come too soon. Hopefully TXDoT will agree.
Clarifying and Decriminalizing Improper Disclosure
Section 2-30 of the Denton Municipal Code currently makes it illegal (a criminal charge) for staff, elected officials, or board members to disclose information discussed in closed session. As a remedy our ethics committee (which I serve on along with council members Wazny and Roden) are recommending to council that we amend 2-30 in such a way as to more precisely define “confidential government information” as well eliminate the possibility of criminal charges for violating 2-30.Although I was seeking a complete repeal of this ordinance, this amendment serves as a compromise that will suffice until we have the ability develop and implement an ethics ordinance.You can read the proposed amendment here: http://denton-tx.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=5c27debb-b28d-4067-9a8a-79f9edba3e4f.pdf
REMINDER: SIGN UP FOR THE GREENSENSE RENEWABLE RATE
If going 100% renewable is important to you then sign up right now the GreenSense Renewable Rate from Denton Municipal Electric. Call DME Customer Service and ask to be put on the GreenSense Renewable Rate. For an average of $5.00 more per month you will be doing what some say can’t be done… going 100% renewable with your home electricity consumption. The call will take about 10 minutes. Make the switch this week! You can reach DME Customer Service at: 940-349-8700
Your humble representative,
Keely G. Briggs