Houston Flips the Switch on 50 MW of Solar Power in Time for Earth Day

The 50 megawatt (MW) solar facility dedicated to providing up to 10.5% of the City’s electricity needs with clean, affordable solar energy is now online and operational.

 

“I want to thank ERCOT, Reliant, ENGIE, and all those who worked on this project for this fabulous Earth Day present,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “As the energy capital of the world, it is important that Houston lead by example and show that investing in solar and renewable energy is a critical tool cities must use to prepare for the future.  As the nation’s largest municipal purchaser of green power, we are living proof that large, industrial cities like Houston can have a robust economy but also help fight climate change.”

 

In February, Mayor Turner and City Council expanded the solar power purchase agreement from 30 MW to 50 MW, reaffirming Houston’s commitment to renewable energy, reducing emissions, and saving taxpayer money. Located in Alpine, Texas, SolaireHolman is one of the largest solar installations in the state of Texas. The project includes 203,840 solar panels on 360 acres and will provide electricity for Houston locations as diverse as the Hermann Park Zoo, the Bob Lanier Public Works Building, waste water treatment plants, and several Bush Intercontinental Airport terminals.

 

“We’re very proud to serve the City of Houston, a substantial customer by any measure,” said Marc-Alain Behar, Managing Director for ENGIE Solar North America, which owns and operates the project in Alpine. “One of the most gratifying parts of our work at ENGIE is aligning with customers to provide the best value we can. Through SolaireHolman, the City of Houston will strengthen its energy portfolio with clean, low-cost solar power for the benefit of all the people who live and work in this vibrant community. What an excellent way to usher in Earth Day 2017.”

 

Benefits to the city include:

 

  • Minimized exposure to electricity market price volatility
  • Realized budget certainty and energy price stability with a guaranteed electricity rate
  • Long term savings
  • Improved air quality in Houston and Texas

 

"Houston has broken new ground with this solar farm, becoming the first city in Texas' deregulated electricity market to invest in solar in a big way," said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. "By powering municipal operations with renewable energy, Houston is helping lead the way in the fight against global warming and for a clean energy future."

 

Under City’s power purchase agreement, ENGIE’s subsidiary SolaireHolman will supply the City’s retail electric provider, Reliant Energy Retail Services LLC (Reliant – an NRG company) with up to 50 MW of solar power at a set, guaranteed price for 20 years. Through its long standing relationship with the City via its Reliant contracts, NRG’s Business Solutions group provided the financial support for the deal through its offerings that include asset management services, along with a wide array of structured energy and capacity products.

 

“We worked with the City of Houston to create an offering that expressly met their needs, helping them achieve their goals and providing an added value to expand upon the existing relationship through Reliant,” said Rob Gaudette, Senior Vice President, NRG Business Solutions.

 

With this addition, the City further solidifies its national leadership in renewable energy and growing use of solar energy. For the past two years, the City of Houston has held the #1 spot on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA's) Top 30 Local Government list of the largest green power users from the Green Power Partnership. Houston is also #7 on EPA’s overall Top 100 green power users. The City uses nearly one billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which represents over 89% percent of its total energy needs.