The Austin City Council has given Austin Energy its approval to enter a new wind power purchase agreement (PPA) for up to 300 MW, positioning the utility to achieve its goal of delivering 35% of its electricity from renewable sources four years ahead of its goal.
The contract with Lincoln Renewable Energy calls for Austin Energy to buy the wind power for 18 years for $31 million per year. The price range is between $26/MWh and $36/MWh, which Austin Energy says makes it the least expensive wind purchase the utility has ever had.
Consisting of 160 wind turbines, the wind farm will be built in Castro County, Texas, and is projected to come online in the fourth quarter of 2015. The Castro project is in addition to two Duke Energy wind farms that Austin Energy entered into contracts with last year: Those projects, each representing 200 MW, are scheduled to come online in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
When the three new projects are all online, Austin Energy says it will have about 1.35 GW of wind power in its portfolio, helping the company achieve its 35% renewable energy goal in 2016 – four years ahead of schedule. Austin Energy notes it also currently has about 50 MW of solar power and 112 MW of biomass.
Austin Energy says these new wind contracts are the last the company expects to enter into before 2020 because it has reached its renewable energy goal and will now concentrate its efforts at achieving specific solar energy targets.