First Solar, Inc. and Austin Energy announced today that they have signed a power purchase agreement allowing the municipally owned electricity provider to obtain solar power generated by First Solar's 119MW 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. "In committing to procuring 600MW 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.
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 300,000,000kWh of clean, renewable energy annually — enough to power 27,000 average homes in Austin Energy's service area. 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.