Late last week, Austin Energy announced that it will bring contracts for two large new solar projects to City Council for approval at the March 20th meeting. The contracts that Austin Energy is poised to sign, after Council approval, are for 150 megawatts of solar power from SunEdison and the price agreed to is nothing short of phenomenal. At less than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, Austin will have solar energy for the same price as electricity from natural gas generators.
Austin Energy predicts that this solar project will actually LOWER RATES slightly. That’s right folks – we’re getting clean renewable energy AND lower bills.
These new solar facilities will be completed by 2016, and will provide Austin Energy with power for 25 years. That’s 25 years of electricity at a fixed cost, something that simply can’t be obtained from a gas or coal plant. When natural gas prices go up, so does that “Power Supply Adjustment Fee” on bills. The beauty of wind and solar projects as that there are no fuel costs, so consumers are protected from unexpected price hikes.
Austin Energy should be commended for it’s excellent work in seeking competitive bids for this project and for capitalizing on an opportunity to contract for more than the 25 to 50 megawatts it initially planned for when it became clear that prices were lower than expected. This significant Austin Energy solar expansion is big news, not just for the utility and the city, but for the state of Texas.