Renewable Power Generation
Mix of Renewable and Conventional Power Benefits Ratepayers
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).
- 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.
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.
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.
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
|Unit Name||Fuel Type||Installed Capacity (MW)||First Year of Commercial Operation||Power Purchase Expiration Date|
|Sunset Farms||Landfill Methane||4||1996||2021|
|Tessman Road Landfill||Landfill Methane||7.8||2003||2017|
|Webberville Solar Project||Solar||30||2011||2036|
|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|
|Los Vientos III||Wind||200||2015||2040|
|Total Renewables||1286.8 MW|