Solar farm funded by city starts generating power

A West Texas solar farm financed in part by the city of Houston started generating power last week and has secured Houston’s position as the largest municipal purchaser of renewable energy in the country.

French energy company Engie developed and runs the SolaireHolman solar farm in Alpine. The farm has more than 200,000 solar panels that stretch across 360 acres, according to a news release from Engie.

The city will pay 4.486 cents per kilowatt hour for solar energy through a power purchase agreement, which requires monthly payments over 20 years for the value of the solar power and does not require the city to own the solar equipment.

The city is paying for 50 megawatts of solar power, which translates to about 10 percent of the power the city-owned buildings use.

While the electric grid cannot deliver pure solar power to Houston, the city is effectively investing in renewable energy by helping finance the project. Reliant is the city’s retail electric provider, and brings electricity to city-run enterprises, like the Hermann Park Zoo, a public works building, wastewater treatment plants and some of the airport terminals at the Bush Intercontinental Airport.

“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,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner in a news release. “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.”