The Austin, Texas, city council has passed a resolution that requires a total of 800 megawatts in new photovoltaic (PV) within six years, a move that would make Texas one of the top 10 solar electricity producers in the country, Greentech Media reports.
The resolution approved on August 28 calls for 600 megawatts of new utility-scale PV by 2017 plus another 200 megawatts of residential PV capacity by 2020. In addition, the resolution legalizes solar leasing agreements and requires 200 megawatts of storage capacity.
The city signed a 150 megawatt power-purchase agreement (PPA) with Recurrent Energy in May for 5 cents a kilowatt hour, and a community task force then studied whether requiring more PV capacity would be a good hedge against volatility in the natural gas market. Solar energy, the task force found, was cost competitive and should be “the new default generation resource through 2024,” Greentech Media said.
“In the past, the people involved used environmental arguments to justify renewable goals,” financial analyst Chad Blevins told Greentech Media. “This time around, the case for renewable was based on economics — operational cost data from the utility, robust dynamic models projecting market prices and the very low PPA rates that we have seen from PV in response to recent [request for proposals).”
Adding more solar capacity would keep electricity rates from Austin Energy, the city’s publicly-owned utility, in the bottom 50% of Texas utilities, and it would save rate payers millions of dollars when compared to building a new natural gas generating station, Greentech Media said.
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