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Austin Energy Proposes Raising City Renewable Use to 35%

austinAustin Energy’s 2008 carbon reduction plan called for 30 percent of the Texas capitol’s energy to come from renewables through 2020, but the utility has floated a recommendation to increase the target to more than 35 percent.

Under the new plan, Austin Energy also would aim to reduce direct emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels, reports Uwire.com.

To help meet the goal, the utility plans to help businesses and homes be more energy efficient to the tune of up to 800 megawatts.

Also, the new 2020 goal would include a commitment to use a gigawatt of wind energy and to double solar output to 200 megawatts.

Austin Energy revealed its new goals at a town hall style meeting Sept. 1, the culmination of eight other meetings with civic leaders and the Austin Board of Realtors, the Real Estate Council and area chambers of commerce.

As of now, Austin’s energy mixture is 32 percent coal, 25 percent nuclear, 12 percent wind and 31 percent natural gas.

By 2020, the goal is to be using 26 percent wind, 22 percent nuclear, 23 percent coal, 19 percent natural gas, 7 percent biomass and 3 percent solar, according to the article.

The utility estimates that electricity prices will have to rise 2 percent a year to reach the goal.

Despite Austin Energy’s lofty goals, its renewable energy offerings have experienced lax demand of late.

The GreenChoice program, which allows businesses and homes to choose whether or not lock in five- and 10-year rates for electricity generated from wind and solar, has suffered from a low adoption rate. Low energy prices are making the GreenChoice renewable rates non-competitive.

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