Denton, Texas approves 100 MW solar power contract

As the Trump Administration continues to dig up legal maneuvers in an attempt to keep failing coal and nuclear plants online, cities across the United States are increasingly committing to source 100% of their electricity from renewables. And while this includes “blue” cities such as San Diego, California and Minneapolis, an increasing number of municipalities in so-called “red” states are also taking this pledge.

Denton, Texas was the second city in Texas to commit to sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable energy, with an ambitious timeline of 2020. As part of this the city’s Public Utilities Board yesterday voted unanimously to approve a 15-year contract with NextEra for the output of a 100 MW solar project to be build in West Texas.

The Bluebell 2 solar plant will be located northwest of San Angelo, and is expected to be completed and online by November. Details of the power purchase agreement (PPA) were not available, however the board noted that the contract will not affect electricity rates in Denton and that it is in line or below average wholesale electricity rates.

The City of Denton previously contracted with NextEra for the output of the 30 MW Bluebell Solar 1 plant, located nearby, as well as for a 150 MW wind plant, also in West Texas, which is expected to be online this month. Sierra Club estimates that once all three of these projects are online Denton will be getting roughly 60% of its power from renewable energy.

Municipal utilities have led a solar boom in Texas, which was the nation’s fourth-largest market last year. This started in 2012 with San Antonio’s CPS Energy and later Austin Energy signing hundreds of megawatts of PPAs with the first large solar projects in the state.

It has also been enabled by the state’s socialization of the costs of building transmission to bring wind and now solar from West Texas and North Texas to cities in the center and East of the State.