It was announced in March that Austin Energy would likely be buying electricity from a SunEdison solar power plant for less than 5¢/kWh under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA). If you’re not familiar with electricity prices, that’s really low. The final deal was just completed last week but with an unanticipated move — Austin Energy closed negotiations with Recurrent Energy. The Recurrent Energy press release explains that it received “an award from Austin Energy for 150 MW of solar capacity in West Texas. The power will be delivered to Austin Energy pursuant to a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement.”
Recurrent Energy doesn’t mention what happened with SunEdison, of course, but it does pump up its status as a leading utility-scale solar power plant developer:
Recurrent Energy is redefining what it means to be a mainstream clean energy company, with a fleet of utility-scale solar plants that provide competitive clean electricity. The company has more than 2 GW of solar projects in development in North America.
Larry Weis, Austin’s Energy General Manager, and Arno Harris, Recurrent Energy’s Chairman and CEO, further explain:
“With our largest utility scale solar award, we are taking an important step towards meeting our goal of acquiring 200 MW of solar energy by 2020,” said Larry Weis, Austin Energy General Manager. “Solar power has reached a price that is competitive in the ERCOT market, allowing us to further diversify our energy portfolio with renewable resources.”
“The Texas market represents one of the most exciting opportunities for the solar industry,” said Arno Harris, Chairman and CEO of Recurrent Energy. “The industry’s growing scale and decreasing costs are enabling us to successfully compete against conventional energy in deregulated markets like ERCOT. This award from Austin Energy further proves solar’s ability to move into the mainstream energy mix.”
“An important step towards” 200 MW by 2020? That one project puts it 75% of the way there! Let’s not confuse things here: this solar power plant is a competitive solar power plant that will provide cheap electricity in the middle of the day, when it would normally be quite expensive. As stated in March, Austin Energy was initially looking for a 50 MW solar power plant. It went with a 150 MW one for a reason.
Austin has long been a mecca for environmental types and musicians. Breathing fresh air is wonderful, eating clean food is a longtime value system in Austin. Continuing this path of choice, Austin Energy’s move falls in line with the folkies and naturalists who have lived in this place for a long time.
Recurrent Energy continues:
Recurrent Energy has been actively developing solar project opportunities in Texas for several years. This award is Recurrent Energy’s first in Texas and brings the company’s contracted portfolio to more than one gigawatt. Recurrent Energy has more than half a gigawatt of solar power projects in operation across North America.
As Zach noted back in March, this may be the lowest price to date for a solar power plant, or at least for a solar power plant in North America: “We reported last February on a PPA in New Mexico in which First Solar was selling electricity for 5.8¢/kWh. That’s the lowest I think I have seen.” GTM Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman said at the time that “new PPAs signed in North Carolina fetched prices for less than 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.”