Phase I of 400 MW Texan solar project complete

The largest U.S. state will soon boast one of the largest solar installations in the country once its ambitious 400 MW PV project is completed, with phase I – Alamo I solar farm – now in operation in the city of San Antonio.

Phase I has been completed by San Antonio-headquartered OCI Solar Power, adding the first 41 MW to a project that will propel Texas into the upper echelons of solar-producing states once completed. CPS Energy will manage the plant, which will generate clean solar energy for 6,600 local homes, mitigating some 57,000 tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of removing 9,500 cars from the roads of Greater San Antonio.

More widely, the 400 MW project is a result of the largest-ever economic development agreement between a private company and a municipal utility, and is expected to plow more than $700 million into the local economy, creating 800 permanent jobs in service and manufacturing in the process.

For CPS Energy’s CEO Doyle Beneby, the deal is a chance for Texans to drastically alter their own carbon footprint. "By 2020, 65% of our community’s electricity will come from resources that are low- or no-carbon emitting – reducing emissions in an amount that’s equal to removing more than a million cars from local roads," he said. "Reducing pollutants in the air we breathe is a no-brainer, and we’ve been pleased to partner with OCI Solar Power in our efforts to make that happen."

Even at 41 MW, Alamo I has become the largest solar farm in Texas. Covering 450 acres and boasting more than 167,000 solar panels, it is a solid first statement of intent for Texas’ fledgling solar industry, but merely the first stage in a grand project that could dramatically alter the oil-rich state’s energy outlook.

"Alamo I is an interesting milestone, yet it is only step one to Texas’ rise as a big player in solar," said OCI Solar Power president and CEO, Tony Dorazio. Working with a consortium of three other manufacturing partners, OCI has created 600 temporary and 150 permanent jobs in the local San Antonio area, hiring many war veterans and helping to serve the region’s strong military culture.

"San Antonio is fast becoming a leader in the new energy economy by combining economic development with environmentally sound practices," said the city’s mayor, Julian Castro. "This solar farm expands our clean energy portfolio while adding hundreds of 21st century manufacturing jobs to the local economy."

The second phase of the project, Alamo II, is scheduled for completion early next year, and will bring an additional 4.4 MW of PV power to the grid in San Antonio, and some 30 MW in surrounding cities. Phase three is expected to add 105 MW of PV power within a 160km radius of San Antonio, while phases four and five will both each add 105 MW to West Texas and North Texas respectively.

Once complete in 2020, the project will have more than doubled Texas’ installed solar PV capacity, which currently stands at 390 MW.