- Austin Energy will recommend the Austin City Council, the municipal utility’s regulatory authority, allow it to procure only 200 MW to 300 MW of utility scale solar by 2017, a portion of the planned 600 MW.
- The Coalition for Clean, Affordable, Reliable Energy (CCARE), a pro-solar alliance of business, public institution, and nonprofit interest groups, wants a "slow down” in procurement because it says the utility will soon be able to take advantage of lower solar prices that it cannot contract for today.
- Austin’s Electric Utility Commission (EUC), an oversight board for the municipal utility, has pushed the Council to go through with all of the 600 MW of the solar purchase sooner, warning that the expiration of the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar at the end of 2016 is likely to negatively alter the value proposition.
- A motion to compel Austin Energy to purchase all 600 MW of solar power failed to pass the council this week. The utility will make its pitch for the solar installation slowdown at the city council's Oct. 1 meeting.
The price for solar-generated electricity in Texas is coming down so quickly that Austin Energy wants to delay a chunk of a planned 600 MW solar purchase, saying it will be able to get cheaper contracts in the future.
The 600 MW RFP initiated by the Austin Energy Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan brought a string of declining bids, including some below below $0.04/kWh — at the time considered the cheapest solar energy ever.
The utility and its supporters point out that the record bids came as at the end of a string of declining contract bids. The bid below $0.04/kWh was 20% lower than the contract the utility signed with Recurrent Energy in 2014 for $0.045/kWh. And it was only 25% of 2008’s $0.16/kWh bid for the 30 MW Webberville array.
While Austin Energy's contracts announced in July were hailed as a price record, they only held that distinction for about a week.
Soon after, NV Energy agreed to a PPA at a $0.0387/kWh rate for a 100 MW solar installation. It is likely the lowest rate for solar energy-generated electricity made public to date, according to Bloomberg News, and is likely the cheapest electricity available in the U.S. today.
NV Energy also held the 2014 record for lowest price solar bid. Its PPA for a 100 MW installation at $0.046/kWh is thought to be the lowest 2014 rate made public.