First Solar, Austin Energy ink 119 MW power purchase agreement

First Solar and Austin Energy signed a power purchase agreement allowing the municipally owned electricity provider to obtain low-cost solar power generated by First Solar’s 119 MW AC East Pecos Solar Project.

Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis said the partnership would directly benefit the citizens of Austin — as well as the entire state of Texas — as the utility takes a step towards meeting its solar development goals.

“In committing to procuring 600 MW of solar energy in the coming years, the City of Austin has once again taken a leadership role in Texas,” Weis said. He added, “We were pioneers in wind energy in the 1990s, and now we’re leading the way in solar.”

With a pipeline of projects in Texas and across the U.S. southeast, First Solar is strategically positioned to bring its capabilities to capitalize on opportunities throughout the region where First Solar’s modules are competitively advantaged.

East Pecos, which First Solar owns and is developing in Pecos County, Texas, is expected to commence construction in early 2016, with commercial operations anticipated in late 2016. The project will create about 500 construction jobs. East Pecos will generate about 300,000,000 kWh of clean, renewable energy annually — enough to power 27,000 average homes in Austin Energy’s service area — and produce efficient, reliable energy, particularly at peak hours when consumers need it most.

For added benefit, the solar project diversifies the local tax base and provides a stable source of local tax revenue for years to come. Moreover, the energy is produced using little to no water, one of the state’s most valuable resources.

Austin Energy, the city of Austin’s electric utility, serves more than 440,000 customer accounts and more than 1 million residents in Greater Austin. The utility’s mission — to deliver clean, affordable and reliable energy along with excellent customer service — has guided Austin Energy in powering the community and supporting the region’s growth since 1895. By producing and investing in wind and solar power, Austin Energy’s electricity is twice as renewable as the rest of Texas.

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