January 23, 2018 Read More →

Texas Solar Boom Rolls On

Midland Reporter-Telegram:

Unlike the oil industry and its cyclical swings, the sun is predictable: It rises in the morning, it sets at night, and you can expect it’ll do the same tomorrow, the day after that and onward. It’s in this area on the Edwards Plateau, known for its dry heat and cloudless skies, where companies are trying to cash in on the consistency.

On Thursday, 174 Power Global broke ground on its $260 million Midway Solar project about 10 miles south of McCamey in Pecos County. More than 680,000 Hanwha Q Cells solar panels will be constructed on 1,500 acres and produce 236 megawatts of electricity. Every sun-fueled watt will be sold to Austin Energy to power more than 50,000 homes in the state capital.

It’s slated to be the largest solar farm in Texas to date.

Midway Solar isn’t the first utility-scale solar farm the region has seen. Just a few miles west is Alamo 6, a project on 1,250 acres producing 110.2 megawatts of electricity that powers about 25,000 homes in San Antonio. Built by OCI Solar Power, it was completed in March 2017 and was sold to Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Adjacent to Alamo 6 is the 50-megawatt Pearl project, also built by OCI and sold to Berkshire Hathaway.

North of McCamey is Upton County Solar 2. Purchased by Vistra Energy in May 2017, the under-construction project will have 180 megawatts of installed capacity and power 56,700 residences when it’s completed this summer.

Mayor Patty Jones said the influx of people brings “good and bad, of course,” but, “overall, it’s been a good thing. Our economy has benefitted. Our restaurants, stores and shops have seen an increase based on workers coming into town.”

“We worked with the local taxation authorities to come to an agreement about how this project was going to be taxed,” said Jason Garewal, 174 Power Global’s director of project development. “We reached an agreement where over the next 35 years they’ll receive more than $40 million in tax revenue.”

Irivine, California-based 174 Power Global is a subsidiary of Hanwha Energy, a division of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group, whose diverse portfolio includes energy, petrochemicals, explosives, banking, life insurance, hotels, resorts and more. In West Texas, it’s eyeing solar opportunities.

Garewal said solar companies are looking to build utility-scale projects in the area because it has good transmission infrastructure that brings power to other parts of Texas on the ERCOT grid.

More: Construction begins on largest utility-scale solar project in Texas

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