Jeepers. Getting a solar project approved in Austin is really complicated. We’ve read the Austin Business Journal’s open four paragraphs a few times and it’s giving us a headache.
The Short Version: Austin approved a 300 acre solar farm that will power 5,000 homes. It will be built by San Francisco based Gemini Solar Development Company who will purchase solar panels from Suntech, a Chinese panel maker. The deal is valued at $180 million.
The Long Version: Austin City Council told Austin Energy to go ahead with the largest solar project in the U.S. It has contracted Gemini Solar to build a 300 acre solar farm that can generate 30 MW, enough to power 5,000 homes.
But! Any federal tax investment credits must not go to Gemini. They are estimated to total $60 million. It must go to the people of Austin, to reduce added costs of solar power. The city also wants to create a stakeholder committee that will assess any future renewable projects. The city wants this because an ad-hoc committee that was thrown togther to make sure some of the solar panels used in the project get built in the U.S.
However, that looks like it didn’t happen. And the $180 million deal will go to Gemini who will purchase its panels from China-based Suntech. Why does that really matter? Because a few solar companies were considering moving to Austin to set up factories. This committee will presumably be used to ensure that solar companies come to Austin.
Austin Energy will pay $250 million over the span of 25 years for the energy produced by the solar farm.
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