Austin, Texas just might become the most solar powered city in America. About two weeks ago, it approved the development of a new round of 288 MW of solar power projects. Even more recently, it approved an additional 162 MW, bringing the total to 450 MW, and that is just for new projects. If these new projects are completed, and it seems reasonable to believe they will be, Austin will have about 670 MW of solar power. In case you are wondering about costs, the 162 MW round of project set of contracts were at $38-$40/MWh.
“This deal is another hedge against the volatility of prices in the fossil fuel market. It is a win for the environment, a win for clean energy, and a win for Austin ratepayers,” explained Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter.
So, which city in America has the most solar power at the moment? On a per capita basis, Honolulu was ranked first in a Forbes article. However, Los Angeles has more megawatts of solar power installed, with about 141.
Austin should not have too much trouble easily surpassing Los Angeles, considering its recent moves to greatly expand its solar power capacity.
It might be surprising that America’s number one solar city could be in Texas, which is a more conservative state and very obviously quite partial to petroleum. The thing about Austin though, is that it is sort of a progressive anomaly in the enormous state, with a huge and very reputable public university.
Education levels in Austin are higher than in most places in Texas, and in the rest of America. It ranked no. 15 in a list of 150 American cities for education. While education may not seem to be the most relevant criterion when solar power is considered, there has been some indication that the most educated people also have the highest view of solar power, “While favorable opinions were high among all education segments, those with the highest level of education had the highest favorable rating for solar energy, at 77%. Those with the lowest level of education, a high school diploma or less, exhibited a distinctly lower percentage of favorable responses (58%), the study found.”