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Austin Energy signs contract for new Gulf Coast wind farm

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Austin Energy, the public power utility in Austin, Texas, will receive an additional 200 megawatts of Texas wind power as a result of an agreement recently reached with Portland, Oregon-based Avangrid Renewables LLC, the utility said Aug. 1. The Austin City Council authorized the purchase on June 22.

Austin Energy has a diverse portfolio of renewable resources, the utility noted in an Aug. 1 news release. With the Avangrid contract, the utility will have 1,300 MW of wind power under contract. It has an additional 306 MW of utility-scale solar power in its portfolio, with another 320 MW coming online over the next 18 months.

Once operational, the new site will have the capacity to produce enough energy each year to power approximately 54,000 average Austin households with zero-carbon energy, said Austin Energy.

Avangrid Renewables owns and operates three wind farms totaling more than 605 MW in South Texas along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The renewable energy company, a part of the Iberdrola Group, is finalizing its development work with the counties and plans to start construction in January 2019, the utility said.

City Council has set goal of 55% renewables by 2025

"Austin Energy is proud of our long record as an innovator and leader in promoting wind power in Texas, including our participation in the first commercial wind farm in Texas back in 1995 and our award winning GreenChoice retail program," said Austin Energy's general manager, Jackie Sargent.

"This agreement is part of our ongoing effort to meet the City Council's goal of 55 percent renewable power by 2025, as we balance environmental progress with affordability," she said.

Because this project is located along the coast, gulf breezes will generate more energy during the day than West Texas wind sites, and this schedule more closely matches the needs of Texas electric consumers, said Austin Energy. This also increases the revenue produced for the utility and lowers cost risks for customers, the utility added.

When the new wind project comes online, Austin Energy will have reached approximately 47 percent of customer demand being supplied by renewable energy, the utility said.

Austin Energy serves approximately 460,000 customer accounts and more than 1 million residents in Greater Austin. By producing and investing in wind and solar power, its electricity "is twice as renewable as the rest of Texas," the utility said in its Aug. 1 news release.