Austin Energy focuses on solar power

Austin Energy made two announcements in December: The Austin City Council approved the business's new energy plan and the company reinstated its residential solar energy credit for consumers.

Part of Austin Energy's new Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan is to increase how much of its energy comes from renewable energy sources to 35 percent of its total energy generation by 2020 then 55 percent by 2025, according to a company press release. To help with this initiative, the company is set to develop a 600 megawatt utility-scale solar facility and a 450 MW wind power facility.

The release stated the company worked with the Sierra Club to create their renewable energy objectives.

"Renewable technologies are emerging, the world is becoming more concerned about climate change and we believe this plan is a prudent step to keep Austin in the forefront of this wave," said Khalil Shalabi, vice president of energy market operations and resource planning for Austin Energy.

Concern over price
The Austin City Council's main concern with the plan is how much it will cost to implement, and how much of that cost will be transferred to customers, according to Community Impact News. Due to concern over rate hikes, the council mandated Austin Energy could not increase energy prices more than 2 percent each year.

Customers happy again
To further promote solar power and green energy, the company will continue its solar energy credit rollover program, according to NBC affiliate KXAN. Austin Energy originally ended the rollover of credits in the beginning of 2014 - a move that generated complaints from customers, who lost an average of $170 worth of credit. The move angered many, since the 3,800 customers with residential solar panels usually generated more energy than they consumed.

Additionally, Austin Energy increased the value of the energy generated by customers from 10.7 cents per kilowatt hour to 11.3 cents per KWh, KXAN reported. The new rate will go into effect January 2015

More information on energy generation in Texas can be found at PennEnergy's research area.

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