Resilience & Sustainability Office

Houston's First Solar Power Purchase

Solar Power Farm

The City of Houston “flipped the switch” on a power purchase agreement (PPA) for a 50 MW solar facility in Alpine, TX on April 19,2017 -- just in time for Earth Day. This represents just over 10% of the City’s power consumption and includes buildings such as the Houston Zoo, the passenger terminals at Intercontinental Airport, 611 Walker, and some of our wastewater treatment facilities. In exchange for upping the PPA from 30 to 50 MW, the overall contract price was reduced by 8%, resulting in an estimated $40 million of savings over the 20-year term of the PPA.

In 2014, as the cost of solar energy began dropping significantly, the City embarked on a process to identify a solar energy provider for 6% of its municipal operations as a step towards diversifying the City’s energy portfolio and securing low cost energy and long term price stability. In 2015, SolarieHolman (formerly Hecate) was selected as providing the best price and value to the City for its proposed 30 MW facility. A key component was the lack of any price escalation or inflation adjustments during the 20-year term. In 2016, SolaireHolman offered the City the option of purchasing an additional 20 MW of solar power.

As the nation’s largest municipal purchaser of green power, the City of Houston has a loud and proud history of commitment to renewable energy. Investing in renewable energy helps the City become more sustainable, but also protects us from market volatility in the long-term. Green power makes smart business sense and is an important tool cities can use to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.

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