In accordance with the City of Austin, a power purchase arrangement spanning 15 years was approved by the council. This arrangement, with East Blackland Solar Project 1 LLC, is for the production of electricity from a 144 MW utility-scale solar project situated southeast of an Atlanta suburb in Travis County, Texas, called Pflugerville.
Over the course of 15 years, approximately $165 million will be paid to the developer by Austin #Energy – or $11 million per year. Austin Energy serves close to 449,000 customers in Austin, in addition to Williamson County, Travis County and neighboring cities.
The per-MWh cost is private, according to the #Sierra Club; however, it can be estimated that the cost is lower than market peak costs at roughly $40/MWh.
Solar Energy Takes the Lead
The ground-breaking project is anticipated to be finished in the year 2020 and at this time, Austin Energy will have close to 940 MW of utility-scale solar under contract. More than 50 percent of all energy demand will be generated from renewable sources – the numbers are nothing short of impressive.
The solar plant is going to contribute a great deal in property taxes (think to the tune of millions) to Travis County, the Austin Community College District, the Travis County Healthcare District and the Travis County Emergency Services District, as well as the Elgin Independent School District. This information comes from the Sierra Club.
Major Solar Benefits
According to Sierra Club volunteer, local resident and solar advocate Al Braden, Austin Energy is not new to solar plants. They have invested in numerous huge solar plants in West Texas, with the last one being as recently as this past winter. In this case, Austin Energy wanted involvement in a solar project closer to home. There are many benefits to using solar power locally. It equates to less dependence on gas plants and coal, lessens cloud cover risk, and of course no emissions.
Austin, like many places, has set renewable energy and solar power-focused goals. Austin Energy is on board with going green, and wants to commit to 65 percent renewable energy over the next nine years – another goal is to stop coal utilization by the year 2023.
This recent solar contract is a great deal, especially in comparison to previous contracts for utility-scale solar in the area. The reason is because purchases are being made by Austin Energy for lower prices, and it saves money on energy bills.
The population continues to increase in Austin, and throughout Texas, as per the Daily Texan Online. This makes the need to go solar even more apparent. Why? Because there could be a lack of efficiency in supplying water needs using standard water resources. Going solar, on the other hand, allows locals to filter their water directly. Lessening stress on the environment is important, if not mandatory, and in Texas, there is a huge demand for water because of the heat. Using solar power to generate expandable technology is key.
Customers of Austin Energy are able to reap the benefits of the sun, understanding that solar is clean, renewable and a great alternative power source. According to Austin Energy, Austin’s solar industry is growing, as more than 50 #solar installation companies have popped up in the city in the last 14 years. Additionally, solar installations continue to grow. The company offers incentives for customers to switch to this renewable energy source. It is wonderful to see major companies jumping on board and understanding the benefits of using clean energy.
Clearly, there is a need to go solar and to take advantage of renewable energy sources. Austin, Texas is demonstrating innovation and a commitment to a clean planet. It is important for other major cities to follow suit. Has your city or neighborhood taken any steps to go solar? If not, what could be done to make a difference? Keep reading solar news to learn of innovative ways cities, businesses and individuals are reaping the benefits of clean, renewable energy.