- The Austin City Council is getting pushback from Austin Energy, its municipal utility, as it considers upping the utility’s renewables requirement by shuttering the Decker Creek natural gas plant and replacing it with 600 megawatts of solar power plant capacity by 2017 and 200 megawatts more of distributed solar by 2020.
- Closing Decker Creek could be an "economic disaster for ratepayers," Austin Energy leaders said, after a controversial report last month from the Council’s Generation Resource Planning Task Force concluded Austin could reduce fossil fuel consumption and add renewables while keeping rate increases below the mandated limit of 2% per yea. The utility proposed pushing the City Council-set target for being CO2- emissions-free from 2050 to 2030.
- Austin Energy presently has 33 megawatts of solar capacity from its Webberville solar array and 22 megawatts from distributed commercial-industrial and residential solar installations as well as plans for a 150 megawatt West Texas solar power plant and 3.6 megawatts of community solar.
Austin Energy’s leaders say too much reliance on renewables makes the utility’s customers vulnerable to rate increases caused by the need to buy higher-priced fossil supplies from ERCOT’s market when the sun or the wind fail.
Austin Energy's current plan proposes adding up to 1,000 megawatts of dispatchable natural gas generation by 2019.
The Council’s Task Force argues renewables are the cheaper option and will keep rates low and adds the 2030 CO2 reduction goal can be changed if rates rise.