Construction begins on largest utility-scale solar project in Texas

California-based 174 Power Global is breaking ground Thursday on the largest utility-scale solar project in Texas, the company said.

The project is on 1,500 acres of private land in Pecos County, in West Texas, and area that has become a hub of utility-scale solar projects. It's 236 megawatt capacity can power 50,000 homes a year, and all of its power will be sold to Austin Energy, a utility for the city of Austin. The project will cost $260 million.

174 Power Global is a subsidiary of South Korea's Hanwha Energy.

174 Power Global has focused on developing solar projects on land without competing interests. The project in Pecos County, for instance, has not oil and gas development and the salinity of the property's water prevents it from being used for livestock or agriculture.

"Solar is the highest use for this particular site selected," said Deborah Reyes, senior director of development for 174 Power Global in the eastern part of the U.S.

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Although solar power, unlike wind, has been slow to grow in Texas, the state has an existing network of transmission lines in West Texas that make it ideal place for large-scale solar and wind projects, Reyes said.

"Texas is still the leader in the union with having planning the transmission well ahead of developing the resources," said Reyes. Most communities, she added, wait to develop transmission lines until project developer approach them, delaying the project.

"Texas was very proactive in identifying where the renewable energy resources were, particularly in West Texas, and in essence created a very attractive market for wind and solar."