July 1 (SeeNews) - Texas-based community-owned utility Austin Energy has received record-low, firm solar power bids of under USD 40 (EUR 36) per MWh in a recent 600-MW request for proposals (RFP).
Khalil Shalabi, vice president of energy market operations and resource planning, presented the results to the City Council last week. He said, as quoted by local media, it would be best to bet on a “measured” approach to solar power contracts.
Shalabi compared the latest record-low bid to a 30-MW solar power purchase agreement (PPA) signed in 2008 at USD 160/MWh, and another deal struck with Recurrent Energy in 2014 at over USD 40/MWh for a 150-MW photovoltaic (PV) park.
The company official is recommending the signing of a 200-MW PPA now and waiting a bit before awarding the other planned 400 MW. “It’s not going to be affordable if we buy 600 MW all right now – it’ll be above market,” he told the Austin Energy Utility Oversight Committee.
Austin Energy might also decide to build solar capacity on its own.
The utility has a goal to source from renewables 55% of its power by 2025. It is retiring coal- and gas-fired power generation capacity, and evaluating an option for the construction of a new 550-MW natural gas-fired station. The City Council has selected Navigant Consulting to conduct an independent review of the gas plan and compare it to renewable energy alternatives. The results are expected in September or October.
(USD 1 = EUR 0.898)