Austin Energy seeks offers on 600 MW of new solar projects

Austin Energy on April 8 issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) that includes options for both power purchase agreements and direct ownership for up to 600 MW of solar generation.

Proposals are due by May 15. Acquiring up to 600 MW of utility-scale solar is a major component of Austin Energy’s recently adopted Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan to 2025. The plan sets a goal of delivering 55% of all of Austin Energy’s electricity to its customers from renewable energy sources by 2025. The City Council-adopted plan, which also projects the construction of a 500-MW natural gas-fired plant, envisions that Austin Energy will acquire the solar energy by 2017 if available and affordable. If not, Austin Energy will continue to pursue the solar goal by 2025.

Austin Energy noted that it operates under affordability goals set by the Austin City Council that require the electric utility to not increase rates more than 2% a year and to keep electric bills in the bottom 50% of all electric utilities in Texas.

Said the RFP: “The City of Austin, Texas d/b/a Austin Energy (AE) is soliciting proposals from companies qualified and experienced in the development and operation of renewable solar energy resources. In particular, AE desires to purchase energy, capacity and associated environmental attributes/renewable energy credits from utility-scale renewable solar energy resources, as defined by the Substantive Rules of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), in an amount up to 600 MW (AC), with a minimum facility size of 25 MW (AC), that are located in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) service region, for terms of 5 to 25 years. Only qualified solar renewable technologies will be considered under this RFP. Proposers may make offers from one or more projects. Proposers may submit more than one Proposal and may submit multiple offers from the same generating facility.

“AE has approximately 4400 MW of generation capacity, either wholly owned or subject to long term Power Purchase Agreements. This diverse portfolio includes nuclear, coal, natural gas, biomass, wind, and solar. AE participates in all aspects of the ERCOT wholesale power market for purposes of serving its load and maximizing the value of its resources.

“By 2016 AE’s energy supply portfolio will consist of approximately 35% renewable resources. AE’s Resource Generation and Climate Protection Plan to 2025 contemplates an additional 200 MW of utility scale solar by 2017 and up to 400 additional MW of utility scale solar by 2025, which will increase the renewable portion of AE’s overall portfolio to approximately 55%.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.