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Austin Energy grows solar portfolio

April 10, 2017

Austin Energy, the City of Austin’s electric utility, has begun receiving solar energy from the East Pecos Solar Facility in Pecos County, Texas.  The 120-megawatt (MW) plant is the second West Texas solar facility to support its growing renewable portfolio.

East Pecos Solar Facility, an approximately 1,000-acre project consisting of approximately 1.2 million solar panels, resulted from the first of three photovoltaic contracts authorized in Fall 2015 by the Austin City Council. Construction began in February 2016 and the plant recently reached a milestone of completion. The plant, when sunlight allows full generation, will produce enough electricity for approximately 24,000 homes at summer use levels.

“Austin Energy customers are getting almost a third of their electricity from renewable resources,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “Now we’re on track to meet the goal of 55 percent renewable energy by 2025 while meeting the affordability parameters set by the Council. This summer, the sun’s going to heat things up, but thanks to Austin’s leadership on solar energy, the sun’s also going to power the air conditioners and ceiling fans to cool us down.”

In addition to solar power, Austin Energy receives 1,360 MWs of wind and biomass resources.  Austin Energy receives the benefit of approximately 39 percent of the solar capacity in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which is the grid that supplies most of the state.

“I am pleased to recognize the timely delivery of solar energy from the East Pecos Solar Facility.  This adds a third utility-scale solar plant providing clean, carbon-free energy to our customers,” said Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy General Manager.  “Our City Council has set ambitious goals for renewable energy and affordability.  Our investment in utility-scale solar energy is just one part of striking the balance among those goals.  These investments reflect the priorities of our community in action.”

Austin Energy purchases wind and solar energy from private companies under long-term agreements, because, as a municipality, it cannot take advantage of tax incentives the federal government provides renewable owners.  Plants currently serving Austin Energy are in Travis County (Webberville Solar Farm) and Pecos County (Roserock and East Pecos).

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