The city of Austin, Texas is ramping up its local solar energy plan, according to a new framework recently approved by the city council. The plan will see the procurement of energy storage and will also shut down older energy plants that rely on fossil fuels. If successful, Austin’s plan will put them firmly in a national leadership role on solar energy.
According to the terms approved by the city council, Austin’s targets for solar have been raised from 200 megawatts by 2020 to 950MW by 2025. This will include 750MW of utility grade solar which will be inside Texas’ isolated grid and 200MW within the city limits. There are two target dates for when the city will be able to use solar as a regularly available and affordable means of energy, based on an audit from the local utility.
Austin Energy will build another 600MW of projects in 2015, if that all works out then the city could start using them for electricity within the next year. If more time is needed then the 600MW have to be online by 2025.
In all, the city plans to get 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2025. Additionally, the city will be required to find and invest in energy storage options to ensure reliability on the grid system as Austin moves away from traditional fossil fuels.
Finally, the city will also be retiring two power plants- the Decker natural gas plant and the coal-fired Fayette Power Plants will go offline in 2018 and 2022, respectively. The plan is the result of months of negotiations between local stakeholders, environmental groups, and the city council.