First Solar inks PPA with Austin Energy for 119 MW solar farm


Austin is continuing to be a leading location for solar development, with municipal utility Austin Energy today signing a PPA with First Solar. The deal will see Austin Energy purchase electricity generated by the East Pecos Solar Project under a 15-year PPA.

The city of Austin has been active in fostering solar development. In December 2014 the city of Austin increased its solar goals to 960 MW by 2025, of which 750 MW will be utility scale projects.

"There is an irrefutable trend of solar becoming competitive in more geographies. Texas, in particular, shows great promise as an attractive market for solar-generated electricity, and Austin Energy is riding that trend," said Georges Antoun, First Solar’s President, U.S.

Austin Energy held an auction for 600 MW of solar capacity last month. Bids came in for less than US$0.05 per kWh, pointing to the competitiveness of solar in the region.

"We were pioneers in wind energy in the 1990s, and now we’re leading the way in solar," said Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis.

First Solar reports that is has a “robust pipeline of projects in Texas” and in America’s southeast. The company began preliminary work on the East Pecos project project in Q4 2014. It is expected to begin commercial operation in late 2016 and First Solar will own and operate the PV power plant.

It is located on a vacant, semi-arid piece of land in west Texas. First Solar informs pv magazine that the land is either retired or non-producing farm land.

Sacramento 10.8 MW deal

In an separate announcement, First Solar has revealed that it has signed a PPA with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District for its Rancho Seco Solar Project. The project is to built on the site of the decommissioned Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Station.

The site formerly hosted on the world’s first utility scale PV projects, the 3.2 MW SMUD solar array.

Construction on the Rancho Seco Solar Project will commence in Q4 2015.