AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of Georgetown resident Terrill W. Putnam against the city of Georgetown, its mayor and its city manager, seeking the release of public information regarding the city’s renewable energy programs.
In November 2016, Mr. Putnam submitted a Texas Public Information Act request to the city of Georgetown for a “payback analysis” of solar panels installed at the city’s Westside Service Center. According to a contract with its vendor, Georgetown paid $271,452 to install the panels. Mr. Putnam was interested in the city’s returns on this investment.
But the city fought the release of the information, claiming to the Texas Attorney General’s Office that the analysis was “reasonably related to a competitive matter.” Because the AG’s office is bound to accept the city’s assertions as true, the TPIA request was denied.
Mr. Putnam later submitted a TPIA request for information to support the city’s claim that returns on already-installed solar panels is “reasonably related to a competitive matter.” The City admits that it does not have any documents supporting the factual basis for the exception it claims to withhold the “payback analysis.”
“The payback analysis of Georgetown’s solar panels clearly qualifies as public information, which is open to all, by state law,” says TPPF’s Robert Henneke. “Mr. Putnam – and all citizens – deserve to know what’s going on with investments made on their behalf by taxing entities. By ignoring Mr. Putnam’s request for the factual basis of the ‘competitive matter’ claim, the city of Georgetown is conceding that it has no basis. We are confident that the state district judge in Williamson County who hears this petition will side with Mr. Putnam and the public’s right to know.”
“It would be great if we get this payback analysis and it turns out that these solar panels saved the taxpayers a lot of money,” says co-counsel Michael Lovins. “But, if the payback analysis shows that the solar panels were a bad investment, then the public can take that into account. Either way, we have a right to know.”
For more information or to request an interview, please contact Alicia Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-472-2700.
Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin that aims to foster human flourishing by protecting and promoting liberty, opportunity and personal responsibility.