Photo: Austin Chamber of Commerce
"The Austin Convention Center's 188-panel solar array was installed by Austin Energy. The city-owned utility company is working to meet it's goal of having 20 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by the year 2020.
Two important initiatives related to solar energy are set to appear before the Austin City Council on Thursday for approval. The first would be a 50-year lease for the city of Austin to obtain 453 acres from the Texas General Land Office in West Texas, which could eventually hold a large facility of concentrated solar paneling capable of producing 50 megawatts of power. The lease would cost $1 million total, but the city still lacks the resources to meet the costs of building the infrastructure, Duncan said.
The second plan would provide solar energy for the Austin Convention Center and a city warehouse located in East Austin, helping to accomplish the initial goal of powering all city buildings with renewable energy sources. The combined cost of this measure would be $315,000 a year for up to 20 years.
Another way that the city is trying to alleviate its energy dependency on oil and gas is by offering rebates for individuals that outfit their homes with solar systems. Duncan said the rebate program offers one of the highest incentives out of any similar system around the world, at $4.50 back per watt. The rebates cover about 70 percent of the costs for the individual, and the city has spent over $3 million on the program since its inception in 2003. "