Power Plant and District Cooling Facility Tours

Group Tours of Local Facilities

COVID-19 Impact to Facility Tours

Austin Energy’s Facility Tours have been affected by COVID-19 and recent stay-at-home orders implemented by the City of Austin.

For the health and safety of customers, employees and the community at large, facility tours to our power plants and district cooling plants, are not available at this time. Tours to the the Webberville Solar Farm are also not available.

We appreciate your patience as we continue to safely provide the Austin service area with clean, reliable, affordable energy and excellent customer service. This site will be reviewed and updated regularly with any changes.

Austin Energy normally offers group tours at two natural gas power plants in Austin as well as a few of the utility’s district cooling plants that use chilled water to cool buildings. These facilities are owned and operated by Austin Energy.

Under normal circumstances, you can also arrange for a visit to the Webberville Solar Farm by going to their website. The facility is owned by Longsol and MetLife; Austin Energy does not arrange visits to them, but we may be able to provide an onsite presentation during your visit. Contact us for more information.

Power plant tour groupAustin Energy Power Plant Tours

Power plant tours are hosted by Austin Energy power plant employees who provide an inside look at how electricity is produced and transmitted via high voltage power lines to homes and businesses. Tour facilities include:

  • Decker Creek Power Station — Northeast Austin (natural gas)
  • Sand Hill Energy Center — Southeast Austin (natural gas)

Visitors are shown the plant’s main control room where generating units are operated by highly-specialized staff. Attendees also receive a rare glimpse of the gas turbines used to produce electricity, along with their supporting equipment.

Austin Energy District Cooling Facility Tours

  • Mueller Energy Center — Central East Austin (district cooling, thermal storage, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology)
  • District Cooling Plant II — Downtown Austin (district cooling, thermal storage)

District cooling facility tours include an inside look at how district cooling works and the thermal storage tanks which allow Austin Energy to produce chilled water during off electric peak hours.

District cooling was formed as a business unit in 2001 as part of an incentive package for companies to build downtown instead of over the Barton Creek Watershed. District cooling plants specialize in providing chilled water service to large commercial clients that have significant cooling needs for their facilities.

How District Cooling Works

The facility makes ice at night during off-peak hours, and allows for it to melt down during the day, as it is sent through the mostly-underground pipe infrastructure to clients, and makes its way back to the plant to continue the cycle.

Peak Demand Reduced

This redundant chilled water piping system helps offset nearly 15 megawatts of peak demand power on the hottest summer days, thanks to the late-night ice-making in each of the four plants.

Combined Heat and Power

Tours at Mueller Energy Center also include a look at the plant’s Combined Heat and Power technology which is used to generate steam from waste heat. The steam can be used to provide heating and power for the Dell Children’s Medical Center; the plant also produces chilled water for cooling.

Request a Tour

Under normal circumstances, please request a tour at least two weeks in advance of your desired date.

To request a tour, email Power Plant Tours. Please include the following information in your email:

  • Your name, title, and telephone number
  • The name and size of your group
  • The name of the facility you would like to tour
  • The tour date and time you are requesting

Austin Energy evaluates individual tour requests on a case-by-case basis.

Tour Eligibility

  • Tours must be either for educational purposes or related to utility activities.
  • Group size must consist of a minimum 5, maximum 25 people.
  • School grade level must be grade 4 or higher.
  • One supervising adult is required per every 8 minors (minors are age 17 and below).

Tour Guidelines

  • Wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes.
  • Adult participants should be prepared to show a valid ID at the plant.
  • Austin Energy prohibits the use of still cameras and video equipment. Make special requests in advance if photos or video are required.
  • Tour participants must stay with their designated Austin Energy guide at all times.
  • Austin Energy will immediately stop the tour if a group member or members violates safety principles, leaves the group, or uses unauthorized recording devices.

Security Guidelines

  • Austin Energy conducts tours at our discretion.
  • Adult plant tour participants must pass a criminal background check.
  • If necessary, Austin Energy will cancel a tour on short notice to meet business and security needs.
Date last reviewed or modified: 3/30/20


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