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Austin, Texas Approves Wind Power Agreement to Achieve Utility's Renewables Goal Four Years Early

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.

The new wind project consisting of 160 wind turbines will be built in Castro County, Texas and is projected to come online in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The new project is in addition to two other new projects that Austin Energy entered into contracts with last year to purchase wind power. Those two projects by Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) are 200 MW each and are scheduled to come online in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The 300-MW Castro County project replaces a 170-MW project that was approved last year but did not materialize, Austin Energy said.

When the three new projects are all online, Austin Energy will have about 1,350 MW of wind power in its portfolio — helping Austin Energy achieve its 35 percent renewable energy goal in 2016 — four years ahead of schedule. Austin Energy also currently has about 50 MW of solar power and 112 MW of biomass.

The new wind contracts are the last Austin Energy expects to enter into before 2020 since it has reached its renewable energy goal and will now concentrate its efforts at achieving it solar energy goals — which includes installing 200 MW of solar by 2020 with half of that installed locally.

Austin said it is a renewable leader for public power utilities in the country. Austin Energy also owns a 16 percent stake in the dual-unit South Texas Project nuclear station. NRG Energy (44 percent) and CPS Energy (40 percent) are the other partners in the nuclear plant.

Austin recently held a set of public meetings to help the utility update its generation and climate protection plan.

This article was originally published on TransmissionHub and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Austin, Texas via Shutterstock

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