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Renewable Power Generation

Mix of Renewable and Conventional Power Benefits Ratepayers

Man Working on Solar Panels

Austin Energy purchases renewable energy from wind, solar and biomass facilities to minimize our impact on the environment.

At a time when technology cannot provide commercially-viable long-term storage of renewable energy, Austin Energy must resort to a generation mix to offset costs of renewable energy and keep costs lower for ratepayers. Also, we must generate power from other sources (natural gas, coal, nuclear) to meet demand when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.

Our Current Power Generation Mix

The pie charts below show the percentages of renewable and non-renewable power being generated right now, in real time. All power produced is sold to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

The amount of renewable energy produced is dependent upon the amount of available wind and sunshine, so the output varies from day to day and hour to hour. The charts below depict incremental percentages of our renewable and non-renewable sources of generated power. As of July 2014, Austin Energy’s power generation mix was at 23% renewable energy.

All power produced is sold to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Total Austin Energy Generation
Apr 24, 2017 7:57:00 AM CDT
Renewable Austin Energy Generation
Apr 24, 2017 7:57:00 AM CDT

Note:

  • The solar power generation indicated above does not include solar electric readings from our residential and commercial customers.
  • Refresh your browser periodically to see the most current percentages.

Wind Power

Since the 1990s, when we began purchasing wind power, we’ve been able to add several hundred MW of generation capacity to our renewable portfolio. In late 2012, we began purchasing wind power from the Gulf Coast, which often produces strong output during peak electricity demand times in the afternoon throughout the year when generation is needed most.

Austin Energy is one of the few utilities in Texas buying significant wind power generation.

Solar Power

The Webberville Solar Project  uses photovoltaic panel technology to generate renewable power that Austin Energy purchases and sends through the state’s electric transmission grid to serve immediate power needs. The system has a capacity of 30 MW and produces over 50,000 MWh of solar power annually, enough energy to power nearly 5,000 homes.

In May 2014, we announced a significant solar contract  to create Texas’ largest single solar facility, capable of producing 150 MW. This new plant will be five times the size of the Webberville system.

Biomass

In Sacul, Texas, about 10 miles northwest of Nacogdoches, the largest biomass plant in the country can produce 100 MW of renewable energy for the Austin area. The plant creates carbon-neutral electricity by burning wood waste that otherwise would decompose and emit carbon compounds contributing to climate change.

Austin Energy is purchasing all of the power produced by the plant over 20 years. The disproportionate expense of this organically-sourced energy, however, means that Austin Energy does not plan to invest additional dollars into biomass beyond the current contract.  

Utility-Scale Renewable Resources

Utility-Scale Renewable Resources
Unit Name Fuel Type Installed Capacity (MW) First Year of Commercial Operation Power Purchase Expiration Date
Biomass
Sunset Farms Landfill Methane 4 1996 2021
Tessman Road Landfill Landfill Methane 7.8 2003 2017
Nacogdoches Power Biomass 100 2012 2032
Total Biomass   111.8    
 
Solar
Webberville Solar Project Solar 30 2011 2036
Total Solar   30    
 
Wind
Sweetwater Wind Farm 2 Wind 91.5 2005 2017
Sweetwater Wind Farm 3 Wind 34.5 2006 2017
Whirlwind Energy Center Wind 59.8 2007 2027
Hackberry Wind Project Wind 165.6 2008 2023
Los Vientos II Wind 201.6 2013 2037
Whitetail Wind 92.3 2013 2037
Los Vientos III Wind 200 2015 2040
Jumbo Road Wind 299.7 2015 2033
Total Wind   1145    
 
Total Renewables   1286.8 MW    

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