City officials in Houston, Texas approved a solar project that will supply the city with as much as 30 megawatts of power annually.
Nashville based Hecate Energy is contracted to complete the installation near Alpine Texas. Once completed – by the end of 2016 – it will provide Houston with 7 percent of its total electricity needs. This is electricity that would have been purchased from a coal-fired plant.
Hecate won the bid by beating out 8 other contractors on price. Their low cost solar contract will allow Houston to buy solar power from them at 4.8 cents per kilowatt hour. On average, over the past 5 years, the city has paid about 6.7 cents per kilowatt hour for conventional electricity. If rates for fossil fuel based energy increase, which is quite likely, Houston could save more than $19 million with this solar power deal.
The Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, knows this is a win-win for her city by stating “….doing the right thing environmentally is also the right thing to do financially. This was a great deal for the city of Houston.”
As good as this solar deal looks, some city officials did express some concerns. For one, the project has not started yet and it also must be completed by the end of 2016 to take advantage of the federal tax credit. This is definitely a major part of the deal and tied directly into the low contract price offered.
City Councilman, Steve Costello, also believes that the deal will greatly benefit Houston – “There’s always a risk when you’re looking at a 20-year program, but I think at the end of the day it will be a savings to the city. We should be looking at things like this. It’s clean energy.”
Houston and other cities across the country will continue to invest in solar power projects like this one. Not only are they now attractive financially, but city leaders will continue to be motivated to do the right thing environmentally.