Business
1:47 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Ground Breaks Tomorrow On Massive Solar Farm in Pflugerville

Construction officially begins tomorrow on one of the largest solar farms in the country. The $230 million facility is being built by RRE Austin Solar in Pflugerville.

Besides hosting a 60 megawatt solar farm, the project also includes a nature trail, a wildflower meadow, trees, and a wind power exhibit. You can check out conceptual maps here and here.

The ground breaking is at 10:30 tomorrow morning at the project site at 17414 Manda Carleson Rd.  (Update at 2:11 pm: Turns out the company will not be streaming the groundbreaking online, as previously reported.)

The groundbreaking comes as Austin continues to brand itself as a hub for the clean tech sector.

Austin City Council last week voted to approve incentives to attract SunPower to the city to create 450 jobs and an estimated $10 million in capital investment.  But as KUT's Mose Buchele reported, many of the jobs created are leaving the city's blue collar workers out in the cold.

Utility-scale solar farms are starting to pop up across Texas, according to a report last month in the San Antonio Express-News.

Even if all the projects get built, they would create a mere sliver of the electricity Texans consume.

Until the big plants are up and adding electricity to the grid, that power remains primarily potential. And tapping it will be controversial as long as solar is expensive relative to energy from other sources.

Yet proponents insist that diversifying the state's electricity portfolio is crucial to Texas' continued economic growth. Solar power has a bright future here, they say, with economic as well as environmental benefits.

But it's expensive.

Here's a KUT News report from March 2009 that we aired prior to a City Council vote approving the Pflugerville solar array.