Is Solar the New Wind in Texas?

2644

Recurrent Energy announces plans for a 150 MW solar facility in West Texas. The power will be delivered to Austin Energy under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement, at an extremely competitive price.

Although Texas has more than double the solar potential of any other state, it still ranks only 13th in installed solar capacity.

But that could be changing. Texas has done well with wind power, with more than 12,000 MW of wind energy capacity — more than double that of any other state. Now that solar has gotten cheaper and wind tax credits have expired, the tables could be turning in the state. Not only are more residential solar leasing options coming to Texas, but as is befitting of the state, big solar is also making its mark there.

 

In the latest in a string of big solar projects coming to the state, last week Recurrent Energy announced plans for a 150 MW solar facility in West Texas. The power will be delivered to Austin Energy under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement.

 

When completed in 2016, the solar project is expected to be the largest single solar power plant in Texas. And it’s also coming at a great price.

 

“With our largest utility scale solar award, we are taking an important step towards meeting our goal of acquiring 200 MW of solar energy by 2020,” said Larry Weis, Austin Energy General Manager. “Solar power has reached a price that is competitive in the ERCOT market, allowing us to further diversify our energy portfolio with renewable resources.”

 

By competitive, he means very competitive. Greentech Media noted that the 5-cent-per-kilowatt-hour price is unprecedentedly low for a large solar project and even beats out natural gas: “The 5-cent price falls below Austin Energy’s estimates for natural gas at 7 cents, coal at 10 cents and nuclear at 13 cents.”

 

“The Texas market represents one of the most exciting opportunities for the solar industry,” said Arno Harris, Chairman and CEO of Recurrent Energy. “The industry’s growing scale and decreasing costs are enabling us to successfully compete against conventional energy in deregulated markets like ERCOT. This award from Austin Energy further proves solar’s ability to move into the mainstream energy mix.”

 

A project like this one is getting the kind of attention that could put Texas solar on the map.