April 22, 2010
Austin Council Approves Green Energy Plan
The Austin City Council today approved a blueprint generation plan through 2020 for Austin Energy that will take effect later this year.
Today’s 7-0 Council approval of the plan delayed its effective date to give Austin Energy time to develop an affordability matrix for Council approval. Such a matrix would help guide implementation of the Plan. Among other things, it would track the competitiveness of Austin Energy electric rates among all customer classes against rates available in other large Texas cities. Using consultants and other resources, Austin Energy expects to present an affordability matrix for Council approval before the end of this year.
The Austin Energy Resource, Generation and Climate Protection plan, developed over a two-year period with extensive public input, lays out a strategy whereby 35 percent of the power delivered by the utility to its customers by 2020 would come from wind, biomass and solar resources. Austin Energy is currently at about 10 percent renewables.
The plan calls for a total of 1,000 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity, 150 MW of biomass and 200 MW of solar by 2020. Austin Energy’s current generation portfolio includes contracts to purchase all energy produced by 439 MW of wind turbines located at six west Texas wind farms over various contract periods, a 20-year contract beginning in 2012 to purchase all energy produced by a 100 MW biomass plant to be built in east Texas and a 25-year contract to purchase all power produced by a 30 MW solar farm to be built near Austin in the coming year. Austin also owns a total of 2,400 MW of nuclear, coal and natural gas-fueled generation.
Another key Plan component calls for the offset of 800 MW of peak demand between 2007 and 2020 through energy efficiency and load shifting. Peak demand, which drives the need for additional power plants, occurs when the demand for electricity is the highest—for instance on the warmest summer days. Austin Energy currently offsets about 50 MW of peak demand annually through some of the most comprehensive energy efficiency and Green Building programs in the nation. Between 1982 and 2006, those programs offset about 680 MW of peak demand.
A final component of the Plan is to reduce generation portfolio CO2 emissions by 2020 to 20% below 2005 emissions levels.