Sun Rising, in Austin, and Everywhere

April 16, 2014

EarthFamilyAlpha:

In Austin, Texas, Austin Energy is poised such that by the end of next year, 1 in 3 Kwhs used by the customers of the 8th largest public utility in the country will be renewable. And when you include 15 years of efficiency programs, almost 50 % of the energy is either renewable or efficiency.And in presenting the most recent purchases of windpower and solar, the utility states that the purchases will actually reduce costs.

As reported by Renewable Energy World:

“The Austin, Texas, City Council approved a wind power contract Feb. 27 that enables Austin Energy to achieve its goal of delivering 35 percent of all of its electricity from renewable sources four years ahead of its goal, the utility said in a news release.

The contract with Lincoln Renewable Energy calls for Austin Energy to buy up to 300 MW of wind power for 18 years for $31 million a year. The price for the wind power is in the $26-to-$36/MWh price range, making it the least expensive wind purchase Austin Energy has ever entered into since it began contracting for wind power in the late 1990s.

The price is also lower than the $32/MWh average cost for all power in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in 2013 and will not increase customer bills, the utility said.

And within a few weeks of that purchase, Austin Energy announced a 150 MW SOLAR Deal:

“Texas utility Austin Energy is going to be paying 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar power, and it could mean lower customer rates.

City-owned Austin Energy is about to sign a 25-year PPA with Sun Edison for 150 megawatts of solar power at “just below” 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. The power will come from two West Texas solar facilities, according to reports in the Austin American-Statesman. According to reports, around 30 proposals were at prices near SunEdison’s.

Austin Energy has suggested that the PV deal will slightly lower rates for customers.” Greentech

Moving to protect the planet now through large scale deployment of well orchestrated renewable energy plants will actually save money.

Inhabitat:

We often assume that Wall Street investment bankers represent everything that is anti-environment. The truth is, all investment bankers care about is money. In many cases, this drives them to support corporate loopholes and industry practices that put the environment at risk, but not always. In 2012, Goldman Sachs surprised the world by announcing $40 billion in clean energy investments. And just a few months ago, Goldman Sachs said that the renewable energy sector is one of the most compelling and attractive markets. Now they’ve gone a step further. According to the firm’s recent report, not only is solar power a good investment, it’s also poised to make fossil fuels obsolete:

…our Clean Energy team believes the number of households hitting grid parity will continue to grow as the cost of the systems comes down…SolarCity has seen a 40% decline in the per watt cost of PV panels since the second quarter of 2013 driven by improved scale which is expected to continue,” state clean tech analysts Brian Lee and Thomas Daniels. “This has been true for Tesla’s battery costs as well, which have declined from of $500/KWh in 2008 to $250/KWh for the Model S to potentially $125/KWh at the gigafactory. As a result we should note that the quantitative grid parity and return calculations we show above are arrived at without any Federal or state credits.

The pair go on to predict that we could have solar grid parity as soon as 2033 (even sooner in places like New York, California, and Hawaii, where electricity is already more expensive), especially if prices for existing forms of electricity increase 3% annually (which is expected. So much for “cheap coal”).

 

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6 Responses to “Sun Rising, in Austin, and Everywhere”

  1. Joep Meijer Says:

    And we at Climate Buddies have just created the political will to pass a new Austin Climate Protection Plan taking us to NET ZERO GHG city wide (so everything and everoyone) by 2050, or sooner if feasible. Read the resolution here: http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=208482. and see the press conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m72DclMQTtE. We are very proud! Now to the planning and execution of the plan. The utility will lead even more.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Fine sounding stuff—-it looks like Austin is trying. But I don’t see much evidence here that Austin Energy’s huge and dirty coal-fired plant is going to shut down any time soon—what are their plans for doing that?. And zero GHG by 2050? A nice target, but a LONG way off, considering that we should be aiming for zero a lot sooner.


  2. The contract with Lincoln Renewable Energy calls for Austin Energy to buy up to 300 MW of wind power for 18 years for $31 million a year. The price for the wind power is in the $26-to-$36/MWh price range, making it the least expensive wind purchase Austin Energy has ever entered into since it began contracting for wind power in the late 1990s.

    How much would this power cost if not for the PTC/ITC (the renewal of which just passed the Senate committee)?  What other costs of wind are externalized?

    Without considering all system costs and all system emissions, “incentives” can just push them from regulated areas to unregulated areas.  The nicest thing you can say about this is that it’s counterproductive.

  3. Mike Dever Says:

    What it does is displace Fracking Pollution of the Austin Water Supply. During the ongoing 5 Year Drought, with a shortage of water, the last thing you want to do is introduce an “energy” policy that pollutes the last remaining water in the state. That’s the far more important “negative externality” you want to avoid.

    Also, these drought conditions are heating up the water intake of nuclear facilities, causing them to shut down, during heat waves, just when you don’t want them to shut down.


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