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For almost a year Mike Steenbergen has been fighting an uphill battle to get the City of Granite Shoals and its governing Council to research and consider solar power options. On Tuesday night Steenbergen, candidate for Mayor, along with Jim Spaulding, PEC Director of Project Development Energy Services, presented various options to the City Council meeting.
Steenbergen was promoting two ideas - one to create a municipal electric utility based on solar power and two to create a team of local professionals to research solar options. The team would participate in the SunShot Community Solar competition offered by the Department of Energy. He encouraged engaging adjacent landowners to participate in exploring what is being called the "new oil" as prices have dropped to competitive levels with fossil fuels. He also drew attention to EPA reclamation assistance for placing solar installations in former mining areas that may apply to some city properties. He mentioned various Federal grant programs that encourage solar development including USDA and Department of Energy programs.
Steenbergen ended his presentation by saying that PEC Board Member Cristi Clement described the challenges for a small municipal utility as almost insurmountable. Clement offered other options and Steenbergen admitted his proposal was not feasible based on her explanation of Franchise fee costs for a municipal utility. He did continue to recommend that a team be formed to research solar power and available funds. Ms Clement did offer other new options and Steenbergen introduced PEC Representative Jim Spaulding to explain them.
Spaulding, with extensive experience in solar array deployments and Federal grant writing discussed the new evolution of PEC's distributed solar efforts. He is part of a program form PEC that is selecting 15 different one-megawatt solar arrays from their service area. The cost for development is free for the City and a revenue stream for providing the land is generated for the City. Spalding also mentioned the prospect of lower utility bills because of the competitive price of green energy in the current market. The second program Spaulding mentioned was a new offer by PEC for members to sign up for lower cost green energy. This innovative effort should give electricity users the option of choosing to subscribe to lower cost or at least equal cost green energy. Granite Shoals is the first City to officially hear of the program in a formal PEC presentation to a governing Board though the Coop has provided the information in recent press releases.
Mr. Spaulding ended by mentioning the Department of Energy SunShot Solar Initiative would have another chance to participate next year. He encouraged this kind of local engagement about solar energy. While the 15 sites have been allocated for the first phase of the new distributed solar program, Spaulding encouraged Granite Shoals participation in the next round of site selections. In regard to the challenges of installing solar arrays in the Granite of the Llano Uplift, Steenbergen mentioned alternative methods used locally and Spalding deferred to RES, the actual solar array construction firm, to determine if the installation was economically feasible.
Pictured are Jim Spaulding on the left, Cristi Clement in the middle, and Mike Steenbergen to the right. Also pictured are the present City Council members and Jim Spaulding presenting.
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Mike Steenbergen proposes that Granite Shoals enter this Department of Energy contest with a chance to win an April award of $10,000 or 60,000 and a chance at a $500,000 Grand Prize. The SunShot Prize - Solar in Your Community Challenge is a prize competition that aims to expand solar electricity access to all Americans, especially under served segments such as low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, state, local, and tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations. In order to make solar more accessible and inclusive for every American, the challenge works to spur the development of new and innovative financial and business models that serve non-rooftop solar users such as community solar.
Offering $5 million in cash prizes and technical assistance over 18 months, the challenge supports teams across the country to develop projects or programs that expand solar access to under served groups, while proving that these business models can be widely replicated and adopted by similar groups.
Participation in the challenge is open to:
Teams working to develop a portfolio of solar projects in their communities or create new solar programs that extend solar access to LMI households and nonprofits; and
Technical assistance providers (consultants and coaches) that assist teams throughout the 18-month challenge by providing the coaching and resources teams need to create innovative new business models.
The Solar in Your Community Challenge is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative and administered by The State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute. Visit the challenge website to learn more, apply, and get involved. http://www.solarinyourcommunity.org/
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Granite Shoals Council, Manager Pursue Non Existent $3 Million Grant: Citizens and voters in Granite Shoals Texas were shocked last night with the abrupt announcement that there never has been a $3 Million program available for application at the USDA. Claiming that this was an "in house" grant they had been working on for a year, apparently there was never even a grant writer involved and for a year no one ever bothered to ask and confirm how much money was available. But the Council and Manager both went to the people claiming the money was available and got the citizens to pass a 3 million dollar matching (supposedly) bond in November. The $6.8 million dollar road project just crashed. There is no longer enough money to do three main roads in Granite Shoals. Michael Steenbergen commented "As a candidate for Mayor of our Granite Shoals I am obligated to ask is this just incompetence or was it deception? The USDA program offers $50,000 and not $3.5 million dollars. That is an awfully large difference and reflects on the adequacy of our current city management and governing in this city The Mayor and Council claimed ignorance and that they were mislead...something that has a familiar ring in my ears (sewer fiasco)."
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Mike Steenbergen Running for Mayor of Granite Shoals
Granite Shoals, Texas
Monday, February 20, 2017
Mike (Michael) Steenbergen is running for Mayor of Granite Shoals, Texas. Steenbergen, an area resident for 8 years and a Texan for 49 years, has been active in Granite Shoals politics and local government for the last several years. Considered a Citizens’ Advocate, eight months ago he led a group of local citizens in providing input on the local road projects and just three months ago he led Granite Shoals voters in overturning an unpopular local ordinance. He is now on the General Election ballot to be held May 6, 2017.
“I have proven my ability to activate the voters of Granite Shoals and I am now asking for their mandate in electing me as Mayor of our fine City” Steenbergen stated. “Critical issues confront us as a City: Infrastructure, Financing, Water Lines, Roads, Water Supply, Excessive Code and Sewage. These are just a few of the issues I am prepared to engage on behalf of the citizens.”
Steenbergen brings a variety of skills to our local City Government. With experience in corporate management, outlet expansions, site locating, finish out projects, local politics and local government he commits to public service: “I will do my best to honor the people of Granite Shoals and to be their voice of reason in local government.”
The campaign may be contacted at
Campaign Email: Michael@michaelsteenbergen.com
Campaign Website: www.graniteshoalstexas.org
Campaign Facebook: www.facebook.com/votesteenbergen
Campaign Phone: 512-234-5348
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It was just 8 months ago that the citizens banded together in The Road Brigade to protest the narrow sited planning for the current arterial road bond project. Granite Shoals City Manager Ken Nickel had focused his road plans on Phillips Ranch Road and around his Taj Mahal City Hall. He had neglected critical infrastructure and drainage requirements and was rushing the project forward without proper planning and consideration. The citizen input forced Nickel to add emphasis on Prairie Creek and Valley View also and forced consideration of drainage and water line issues. Candidate for Mayor Michael Steenbergen has once again raised the battle cry as plans to allocate the bond money will be considered this Monday [see below]. Please, all citizens that care about the $3 million we just gave Ken Nickel need to show up to be custodians of the public interest. Join me Monday!
Granite Shoals Texas Road Bonds
Special Called City Council Meeting
Monday February 20th at 5:45 PM at City Hall
2221 N Phillips Ranch Rd
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One of the reasons I am running for Mayor of Granite Shoals is because of the complicated, legalistic, and over reaching City Code. During the past year as Citizens' Advocate, more than any other issue except for better roads, I keep hearing complaints and requests for help regarding our complicated City Code. The Codes high fees and fines along with nit picking detail have driven numerous homeowners to give up and sell their property. I received complaint after complaint about how the code is enforced and the behavior of one particular code enforcement officer. When I passed this information to both City Management and City Council, it was marginalized, minimized and ignored. As your Mayor I will lead an effort to simplify the code, reduce fees and fines, and institute a fair system of code enforcement that is not based on "anonymous" reporting which has allegedly become the tool of oppression, discrimination and retaliation in Granite Shoals. Vote S.T.E.E.N.B.E.R.G.E.N. for a Better Granite Shoals! Please Like and Share to help my campaign - Mike Steenbergen