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Adler summarizes closed solar-contract meeting

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

City Council went into executive session during a work session on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of increasing the city’s upcoming solar-contract investments to as many as 600 megawatts at its regular meeting Thursday, more than double the nearly 300 megawatts that it approved on Oct. 1. Mayor Steve Adler gave a brief overview of the discussion after Council returned to open session. In addition to discussing contract pricing, “security issues” and the possible locations of the solar plant or plants, Council also talked about the “net revenue” of the different contract groupings, Adler said. “The net revenue loss in year one for increases over the initial purchases already approved is about three to four times more expensive on an incremental basis because of those additional elements that go beyond just contract price,” he said. Council, Adler said, has asked staff to release as much of the pricing analysis to the public as it can without releasing confidential or proprietary information. Adler also said that Austin Energy staff told Council that further investment in solar would not “result in a reduction of the time or the amount of gas plant operation” that the city engages in, because the city does not run the gas plants unless they are “in the money.” Therefore, Adler said, “whether or not we buy solar is an independent issue as to whether or not or when we run our gas plants.”

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