First Solar, Inc. and Austin Energy announced today that they have signed a power purchase agreement allowing the municipally owned electricity provider to obtain low-cost solar power generated by First Solar’s 119 megawatt AC East Pecos Solar Project.
Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis said the partnership will directly benefit the citizens of Austin – as well as the entire state of Texas – as the utility takes a significant step towards meeting its solar development goals. “In committing to procuring 600 megawatts 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.”
“There is an irrefutable trend of solar becoming competitive in more geographies. Texas, in particular, shows great promise as an attractive market for solar-generated electricity, and Austin Energy is riding that trend,” said Georges Antoun, First Solar’s President, U.S. “The East Pecos Solar Project is proof of solar’s real-world cost competitiveness.” Antoun added that Texas’ business-friendly environment, combined with the largest solar resource in the U.S., makes it an excellent market for utility-scale solar.
With a robust pipeline of projects in Texas and across the U.S. southeast, First Solar is strategically positioned to bring its world-class execution 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 approximately 500 construction jobs. East Pecos will generate approximately 300,000,000 kilowatt-hours 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.