Austin approves contract for massive solar plant

AUSTIN, TEXAS - San Francisco-based Gemini Solar Development Company LLC announced that it has been selected to build a 30-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar power plant for Austin Energy, a municipal electric utility in Austin, Texas.

At a cost of $250 million, the solar power plant will be one of the largest installations in the United States upon completion. The investment is expected to lock in fuel prices for 25 years at an estimated at 16.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

The solar array will be built on 300 acres of city-owned land located approximately 25 miles east of Austin. It will produce enough electricity to power about 5,000 homes and will eliminate 180,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Gemini Solar Development Company will own the plant.

The Austin City Council approved the contract under three conditions. The first is a provision that any federal stimulus funds, rebates, or incentives recovered will be passed on to the City of Austin, rather than accrued solely by Gemini. The second is to roll power purchased through this agreement into Austin’s Green Choice program, so that citizens will be able to voluntarily opt in to solar’s stable energy price. The council will also create a new, all-inclusive stakeholder task force to review future energy projects.

“The City Council showed remarkable discretion and patience through a laborious process in vetting this proposal,” said David Power, Deputy Director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office.


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