Austin Moves Toward Zero Carbon With A New Solar Contract

Over four times the power of our Webberville Solar plant (shown above), the new solar farm could be roughly 1,600 acres in size and provide power to over 23,000 homes in the Travis County area. This renewable power will replace much of the energy from the old Decker gas steam units which are retiring by 2021. (Photo: Al Braden)

Guest Post – from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club

On Thursday, October 18th in a 9 -1 vote, Austin City Council approved an Austin Energy utility-scale solar contract for a 144 MW solar power plant to be located southeast of Pflugerville. When completed in 2020, the utility will have nearly 940 MWs of utility-scale solar under contract and will generate more than 52 percent of all energy demand from renewable energy sources.

In addition to the Elgin Independent School District, the solar plant will contribute millions in property taxes to Travis County, Travis County Healthcare District, Austin Community College District, and the Travis County Emergency Services District.

In response to the approved solar contract, Sierra Club volunteer, solar advocate and local resident Al Braden stated:

“After investing in several massive solar plants out in West Texas – with the last contract just this past December – Austin Energy worked to find a project closer to home. Local renewable generation means less reliance on coal and gas plants during peak demand afternoons like the hot summer we just had, no emissions and no need to use water for power. It also spreads out the cloud cover risk – being 400 miles from our other major solar sites.”

Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter Conservation Director Cyrus Reed is excited about the project too:

“This is the latest commitment made by Austin Energy to meet both Austin’s overall renewable goals that commit the utility to at least 65 percent renewable energy by 2027 and an end to coal use by 2023. This contract is a much better deal than previous contracts for utility-scale solar in Travis County because Austin Energy is purchasing it at lower prices, and unlike the West Texas contracts, there will not be congestion issues or a loss of power in transmission. This will in turn save Austin ratepayers money on their energy bills.”

Austin Energy agreed to pay the solar developer an estimated $11 million per year over the next 15 years for all of the energy produced at the plant. They take all the risk – we buy just what is produced. Cloudy days are on them. While the actual per MWh cost is confidential, it is believed to be below afternoon market peak prices at less than $40 per MWh.



Vanessa Ramos,, (512) 586-1853
Cyrus Reed,, (512)-740-4086

Please note – editorials and sponsored posts are written by guest writers to inform and educate the community on a variety of different viewpoints, as well as to share information about local eco-friendly businesses and organizations. However, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Austin EcoNetwork. 

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