Last DSIRE Review: 11/05/2012
The City of Austin, Texas, has been an early adopter of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) regulatory incentive. Using long term planning strategies, the City has set annual benchmarks for the percentage of renewable energy it uses annually. In February 2007, the Austin City Council approved Resolution 20070215-023, adopting the mayor's Climate Protection Plan. The Resolution increased Austin's renewable portfolio goal to 30% by 2020, with 100 MW required to come from solar. The resolution also sets a green power procurement goal, with the plan to power municipal buildings and facilities using 100% renewable energy by 2012. In February 2011, the city council approved Austin Energy's updated Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan, thereby increasing the renewable portfolio goal to 35% by 2020 and doubling the solar requirement from 100 MW to 200 MW. See the Final Report on Austin Energy’s Strategy for 200 MW of solar generation per Resolution No. 20110804-027 from November 2011 for updated information on how Austin plans to meet its ambitious goals.
Other requirements established by the Climate Protection resolution include:
- Making the entire City fleet of vehicles carbon neutral by 2020,
- Developing and implementing departmental climate protection plans,
- Developing an employee climate protection education program,
- Achieving 700 MW of new savings through energy efficiency and conservation efforts by 2020,
- Establishing a CO2 cap and developing a reduction plan for existing utility emissions,
- Achieving carbon neutrality on any new carbon-based generation facilities, and
- Implementing aggressive building codes to maximize energy efficiency.
The City of Austin has a long history of supporting the development of renewable energy resources. In February 1999, the Austin City Council adopted Resolution No. 990211-36, which set a goal for Austin Energy to achieve 5% of the energy in its portfolio mix from renewable resources by December 31, 2004. Renewable resources include those that rely on energy derived directly from the sun, on wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave or tidal energy, or on biomass or biomass-based waste products, including landfill gas. Funding to achieve the 5% increase in renewable energy resources was authorized to be provided by Austin Energy's green pricing program -- GreenChoice -- initiated in 2000. Residential and business customers can opt to have the standard (fossil) fuel charge on their electric bill replaced entirely by the GreenChoice power charge, which will remain fixed for 10 years.
In September 2003, the Austin City Council approved a resolution to ensure that Austin Energy continues to meet the community's demand for clean energy beyond 2004. Resolution 030925-02 directed the utility to execute a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Wildlife Fund that included a goal to achieve a 20% renewable energy component in its energy mix, an increase in energy efficiency of 15% by 2020, and support of binding limits on national power sector CO2 emissions. Subsequently, in December 2003, the Austin City Council unanimously approved Austin Energy’s 10-year Strategic Plan, which among other initiatives, included elements to comply with the council’s energy policy resolutions. Objective 5 of the plan sets a renewables portfolio standard of 20% by 2020. Austin Energy also committed to develop 15 megawatts (MW) of solar generating capacity by 2007, increasing to 100 megawatts by 2020, increasing it again in 2011 to 200 MW by 2020.