This commentary was originally posted on the EDF Energy Exchange Blog.
Driving through the bustle of downtown Austin, past the sleepy, revitalizing East Side, one reaches the pastures and prairie countryside of Travis County. It is on this thirteen mile trek, the smell of wood smoking BBQ wafting the air that you come to the village of Webberville.
While the settlement dates back to 1827, it is Webberville’s modern day activity that will put it on the map. Friday morning, SunEdison along with the mayor of Webberville, the City of Austin, and Austin Energy held the grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting for the Webberville Solar Project. Webberville Mayor Hector Gonzales summed it up well, stating that today the “past shakes hands with the future.”
With its “rough reputation” dubbing it Hell’s Half Acre, Webberville now has 380 acres of solar generating power to add to its claim to fame. The 127, 728 panels will ultimately generate 30 MW of solar energy and will offset 1.6 billion pounds of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years. The facility utilizes solar PV technology that is mounted on horizontal-axis trackers rotating in the East-West directions with the sun’s position in the sky to optimize electricity production.
All of this translates to producing enough electricity to power 5,000 average-size homes annually. The launch contributes to Austin Energy’s generation goal of 35% renewable energy by 2020 and creates green jobs for the area. “It is the largest active solar project of any public power utility in the country, the largest active project in Texas and among the largest of all operating solar projects in America.”
If there are two things in Texas that we have plenty of, besides oil and gas, it’s sunshine and pride and we are proud to have this solar farm on our soil.