Earlier this week, the city of Georgetown, Texas, secured a $3.24 million deal with solar panel company GAF Energy.

GAF Energy, an offshoot of Standard Industries, produces the world’s first nailable solar panel shingle. The company promises their product “protects and installs like a regular roof. … Just shingles that shield your home from the elements and generate clean electricity. It’s a roof with energy. It’s that simple.”

Georgetown’s agreement with GAF Energy includes two lucrative property tax abatements. For 10 years, the company will enjoy a 75 percent tax abatement on business personal property and a 50 percent abatement on real property. These two tax cuts reach a value of more than $2 million.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation will also furnish a five-year job creation grant totaling $395,000. Additionally, the deal includes the “retirement of Renewable Energy Credits to offset the company’s electric usage for five years to certify the facility as using 100 percent renewable energy.” The value of this incentive is estimated at close to $500,000.

For their part of the deal, GAF Energy promised to build a $450,000 manufacturing facility in Georgetown and create 265 jobs over 10 years. The company plans to finish the building in June 2023.

In total, Georgetown provided $3.24 million in tax cuts and grants to the solar panel company. For the first 10 years of operation, the city expects GAF Energy to bring around $3.75 million in positive economic returns. After subtracting millions of city-funded incentives, Georgetown’s economy will receive a boost of around $50,000 over 10 years.

This is not Georgetown’s first entanglement with renewable energy. In 2012 city officials started transitioning the community’s energy supply to only renewable resources. The move drew acclaim from environmental activists and liberal politicians across the country; however, within a few years, Georgetown’s citizens experienced a major tax hike.

The city signed 20-year contracts with wind and solar companies to buy large amounts of energy at a fixed price. But instead of renewable energy decreasing in price, electricity prices dropped. As a result, the city ended up paying $26 million more than they originally estimated and lost $7 million in taxpayer dollars.

Consequently, Georgetown raised residents’ utility prices by close to $100. The city also raised citizens’ taxes and continued subsidizing costly renewable energy companies through their Economic Development Corporation. This arm of the city government uses taxpayer dollars to fund various pet projects, including the new deal with GAF Energy.

Despite the city’s previous renewable resource disaster, Georgetown Mayor Josh Schroeder believes the $3.24 million agreement with GAF Energy will benefit the community and help raise the profile of wind and solar energy.

“We are pleased GAF Energy selected Georgetown as their destination for their facility,” said Schroeder. “Their innovative product is one that will change the market as we know it, and we are excited that it will be developed here in our backyard.”

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.