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CITY: AUSTIN

Commitment to Low-Cost Solar, Net-Zero Emissions

354K TONS OF CO2 SAVED YEARLY FROM

The people of Austin are blessed with abundant sunshine, and together with the municipal utility, they are committed to powering their lives using this incredible resource.

SOLAR INVESTMENTS

In the heart of Texas, a solar revolution is unfolding. Austin, the state capital, has set a goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and plans to reach the target via solar commitments, innovative tariff structures, and electric storage integration. Austin’s municipally-owned electric utility, in coordination with community stakeholders, aims to deploy 950 MW of solar by 2025, including 200 MW of rooftop solar, throughout the city.

THE CHALLENGE Texas was the leading crude oil- and natural gas-producing state in 20151, and shifting to clean energy runs up against this fossil fuel legacy. However, the state is now also the top producer of wind power in the USA² and solar is surging.

To meet these ambitious goals, Austin Energy is implementing a multi-prong solar strategy. Long-term procurement contracts with utility-scale solar plants will comprise the majority of the target, but to change attitudes and achieve community buy-in, Austin Energy is also developing clever tariffs to fairly spread the cost of solar and make solar accessible for all. Their first community solar project was launched in early 2017, with an 180-kW array at the Palmer Events Center. The utility also launched its own solar mapping tool, allowing residents to calculate the solar potential of their property.

CO-BENEFITS Economic Austin’s local solar industry employs more than 900 people and has created an estimated $370 million worth of local economic activity through direct investments in solar installations to date. Customers already save a total of around $7 million per year from currently installed solar.

Health Shifting from coal- and natural gasfired power plants to solar power reduces particulate emissions and improves local air quality for Austin’s residents.

Social A proportional metering solution is under development that will enable the cost of solar installations in multi-family affordable housing properties to be split fairly amongst tenants. This will bring solar to properties and families that have traditionally been shut out of the solar energy market.

1,2 Energy Information Administration. Texas Energy Production Estimates. (2017.)

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ENERGY

The municipality of Austin is installing rooftop solar panels throughout the city.

Cities100 2017  

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