Vistra to build Texas’ largest solar plant

The announcements regarding large solar projects in West Texas have been rapid this week. Just two days after Southern Company announced that it had put online the 130 MW-DC Lamesa project, Texas power company Vistra Energy announced that it has purchased the 180 MW Upton County Solar 2 project.

Vistra has further signed a contract with an un-named engineering, procurement and construction contractor to build the plant, which it expects to go online in the summer of 2018. Vistra’s independent power producer (IPP) subsidiary Luminant will own the project, and the electricity generated by the project will be provided to both residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) customers of Vistra’s utility subisidiary TXU Energy.

TXU currently offers four different solar-based products to its retail customers, both residential and C&I.

“This purchase is an additional proof point of Vistra Energy’s ability to uniquely couple our retail business with our commercial operations in a meaningful and beneficial way,” said Curt Morgan, Vistra’s president and chief executive officer. “It also shows our commitment to expand this model while providing significant advantages compared to a standalone retailer or generator.”

As of its most recent long-term reliability report released earlier this month, ERCOT had identified nearly 1.9 GW-AC of solar projects scheduled to come online by the summer of 2018, including the Lamesa project which was completed subsequent to the report’s publication.

Over the longer scale, ERCOT is expecting 13 GW of solar PV by 2030, even without the former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. However, if the state’s momentum in 2017 is any indication, this is a conservative estimate.