Austin Energy is poised to sign what could be the world’s cheapest solar-power deal.
The city-owned electric utility has agreed to terms with SunEdison to buy electricity from two solar farms in West Texas, one a 350,000-panel, 100-megawatt facility, the other a nearby 150,000-panel, 50-megawatt neighbor. The price is just below 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. That is far cheaper than solar energy had generally been going for — and less than a third of the price Austin Energy agreed to pay in 2009 for electricity from a much smaller solar array just east of the city.
The story you're reading is premium content from the Austin American-Statesman. Subscribers get total access to all our in-depth news, digital editions and exclusive premium content. You can now also buy a 24-hour digital pass or 7-day digital pass.
For Subscribers: Sign in here if you have already registered your account.Sign In
For Subscribers: Register your account for digital access.Access Digital
Read MyStatesman.com now — 24-hour digital pass99¢ for 24-hours
Read MyStatesman.com all week — 7-day digital pass$3.99 for 7-days
Subscribe to the Statesman for as little as 33¢ per dayView Offers
By the numbers
Austin Energy projects that the 30-year, “all-in” cost of wind and solar will be cheaper even than natural gas, though the utility emphasizes projections aren’t always right. Prices below are cents per kilowatt-hour:
2.8 to 3.8 cents: Wind contract signed last month for 300-megawatt wind farm north of Lubbock*
4.5 to 5.5 cents: Proposed solar contract for 150-megawatt array*
7 cents: Natural gas
9 to 16 cents: Wood-waste plant that started operating in 2012*
10 cents: Coal
13 cents: Nuclear power
16.5 cents: Solar array approved in 2009 in Webberville
Source: Austin Energy
*Austin Energy doesn’t release the exact per-kilowatt-hour price, saying competitors could use the information against the utility when bidding for future sources of electricity.