CITY OF HOUSTON AND NRG ENERGY DEVELOPING LARGEST SOLAR FARM IN TEXAS
Ten megawatts of clean renewable power online in early 2010
September 24, 2009 -- The City of Houston has selected NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NRG) in a competitive bid process to develop, own and operate the largest solar project in Texas to date. The agreement must be approved by the Houston City Council and Mayor in a process expected to begin next week.
Using the latest photovoltaic (PV) technology, the proposed project will have the capacity to generate approximately 10 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable solar power which would be purchased by the city under a long-term power purchase agreement. Ten megawatts is roughly 6.25% of the City’s annual consumption and is equivalent to the energy required to power over 7,000 homes. The EPA currently lists Houston as the country’s No. 1 municipal purchaser of renewable energy.
The Solar initiative is consistent with the City’s prior renewable purchases and the ongoing weatherization and efficiency efforts that mark the City’s commitment to reducing its impact on the environment while continuing to meet its ongoing energy needs. The facility, as proposed, would come online in the second quarter of 2010 and would create approximately 100 jobs during construction. The project would supply the City with both sustainable power and Renewable Energy Credits which would be needed under a number of the environmental initiatives being proposed by Congress.
“The City of Houston has established itself as a leader in green energy projects. That includes both energy efficiency and renewable energy. These are things we all have to think about and plan for as we face the challenges of an uncertain and more costly energy future. Using renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power means we are conserving energy, saving money and protecting the environment,” said Mayor White.
NRG was selected as the generator best able to deliver the facility on time with an innovative solar power project that reduces cost and ensures Houston’s energy needs are met. The City will purchase the full 10 MW at a blended cost of 8.2 cents/kilowatt hour. To achieve this blended price, the solar-generated power will be complemented and backed up by NRG’s extensive and diverse generation portfolio to economically meet Houston power needs at night and on days when weather conditions do not allow solar generation at maximum capacity. This long-term power purchase agreement provides a fixed price over the life of the agreement for the solar generation, protecting the city from price fluctuations due to natural gas price volatility of the type experienced in the summer of 2008 and following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The facility will be developed at NRG’s TH Wharton Electrical Generating Station in northwest Houston. By using land an existing NRG site, the solar project can take advantage of available land and existing nearby interconnects to reduce costs.
NRG plans to use PV solar modules manufactured by First Solar, Inc. to turn sunlight directly into electricity. First Solar has been a leader in advanced solar technology since it began commercial production in 2002.