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Decision on Austin bids next month

Officials for Austin -- the capital city of Texas -- expect to announce in May the winning bid submitted in reply to their request for proposals for up to 100 MW of renewables to supply the city's new Green Power Program. The city utility, Austin Energy, received 11 responses. The generating technologies represented most strongly are wind, biomass and landfill, says the utility's Roger Duncan.

The 11 companies include American National Wind Power of the UK; SeaWest Wind Power of California; and West Texas Wind Energy Partners. It was not immediately clear if any further bids involved wind. They came from Ecogas of Austin; Texas Native Power Project; Stirling Energy Systems of Phoenix, Arizona; Energy Developments of Houston. Energy Conversion Development International of Houston; Wallis Energy Corp; Matrix Solar Energies of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Browning Ferris Gas Service. Among those attending a meeting for prospective bidders in late January were America's two biggest wind developers, Enron Wind Corp and Florida Power and Light, an affiliate of the energy firm FPL Group of Florida.

Austin officials say that an estimated 1974 homes and 275 commercial customers will probably subscribe to the Green Power Program. In a survey, residents say they will pay $5 to $10 more monthly for green power and that they want at least 10% from renewables. Businesses say they are willing to pay an extra $25 a month for at least 10% from renewables. Austin Energy already contracts for 10 MW of wind power from a 35 MW wind plant in Culberson County in west Texas.

Bidders were required to offer the utility two options for providing renewables -- a bid to provide at least 5 MW of firm power for the utility and a bid to provide at least 1 MW of renewables power for the green pricing program. "We were reasonably happy with the prices," says Duncan.

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