Five Texas munis partner to add 500 MW of solar

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Five utilities in Texas have announced plans develop 500 MW of solar farms. New Braunfels Utilities (NBU), Bryan Texas Utilities, Denton Municipal Electric, Garland Power and Light and the Kerrville Public Utility Board have teamed up to create the purchasing power necessary to fund their commitment to renewable generation.

For NBU, as well as most of the rest of the group of utilities, this is their first dip into large-scale solar generation. The exception is Denton Municipal Electric, which signed a 15-year contract with NextEra for the output of a 100 MW solar project earlier this year, as a part of the city’s goal to go 100% renewable. At the time of that purchase, Sierra Club estimated that Denton is procuring 60% of its electricity from renewable sources, so this will undoubtedly aid the cause.

NBU is looking to purchase 150 MW of the total 500 MW over the course of a 10-20 year power purchase agreement. The utility’s goal is to have these facilities operational by December 31, 2022, although it is looking to pursue projects that will be completed before that.

NBU has also stated that they would prefer projects that “propose to split the generation requirements between two sites that are physically distant from one another.”

While not directly requiring it, NBU also outlines that it is open to coupling projects with onsite batter storage, outlining in its request for proposal: “NBU will consider storage options or future storage options blended with a solar power offer, but prefers that any proposed development with a blended offer has the solar power offer broken out on a stand-alone basis.”

This massive push to renewable generation by municipal utilities is nothing new in Texas. In fact, it’s arguably becoming the standard. Texas is SEIA’s 5th largest solar state by capacity in the nation at over 2,600 installed MW, which has overwhelmingly come from utility-scale development. The Texas renewable generation revolution began in 2012, when San Antonio’s CPS Energy signed a deal with South Korea’s OCI to develop and purchase power from 400 MW of solar projects that OCI developed.

NBU also outlines that it may award one or more contracts for it’s 150 MW cut of the project, with rights to resell any generation or facilities in the future.

For now, it seem’s Texas’ renewable energy revolution keeps on rolling.