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30MW PV plant to rise in Austin, Texas

Posted: 09 Mar 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PV plant? solar power? plant power?

Gemini Solar Development Company LLC has been selected to build a 30MW photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant for Austin Energy, a municipal electric utility in Austin, Texas.

This landmark solar power plant will be built on 300-acres of city-owned land located approximately 25 miles east of Austin. Totaling 30MW, the solar array will be operational by the end of 2010. When completed, the solar generated power will eliminate approximately 30,000 tons of CO2 per year and provide enough electricity to power 5,000 homes.

"Austin Energy's leadership in renewable energy is a great example for utilities across the country," said Kristina Peterson, president of Gemini Solar.

Gemini Solar is a joint venture between Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, and financier and developer MMA Renewable Ventures, a subsidiary of Municipal Mortgage & Equity LLC. Gemini Solar was formed in October 2008 to develop and finance PV projects of 10MW and larger. Gemini Solar will own and operate the solar power plant, and sell the electricity to Austin Energy under a 25-year non-escalating power purchase agreement (PPA). Suntech's solar panels will be installed in the 30MW power plant.

"By partnering with Gemini on this landmark project, Austin Energy is demonstrating true vision when it comes to environmental sustainability," said Matt Cheney, CEO of MMA Renewable Ventures. "Through a long term PPA, Austin Energy will be able to deploy solar without upfront installation cost or ongoing maintenance expenses. Customers will benefit from lower utility costs over the long term, as well as a cleaner environment."

In 2003, the Austin City Council adopted a strategic energy policy, which calls for the development and use of clean energy by Austin Energy. A key component of this energy policy is the commitment towards the development of solar energy with goals of 30MW by 2010 and 100MW by 2020. In 2007, the Austin City Council launched the Climate Protection Plan initiative, which calls for Austin Energy to develop more aggressive energy conservation and establishes a goal that 30 percent of its energy be from renewable energy resources by 2020. This solar project will make a major contribution toward these objectives.

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