FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 9, 2014
Austin City Council to Decide Fate of Fayette Power Project in 2014
Memo to City Council outlines legal
pathways for moving Austin beyond coal
AUSTIN, TX – A memo from the Austin City Attorney’s office puts the future of the Fayette Power Plant in the hands of the Austin City Council and Austin Energy. After months of debate and speculation, City Council now has a menu of options and legal pathways available for retiring the plant.
The Fayette Power Plant, which is jointly owned by the City of Austin and the Lower Colorado River Authority, is responsible for 75% of the utility’s carbon pollution and draws an average of 5.75 billion gallons of water from the Colorado River each year. The City’s resource generation plan sets strong goals for reducing Austin’s carbon pollution and positioning the City as a national leader in addressing climate disruption.
“The City Attorney’s memorandum supports many of the positions that the Sierra Club has long advocated. Notably, selling the city’s share of the coal plant to another entity is legally problematic, and it has never been the best outcome we can achieve,” said Dave Cortez, Organizing Representative for the Austin Beyond Coal Campaign. “Other utilities around the state are shutting down old coal assets, including units at CPS’s San Antonio Deely Plant which will retire by 2018. Further, TXU will put half its units at the Martin Lake and Monticello plants on partial shutdown by 2014. We have every confidence that the city can work with ERCOT, LCRA and other stakeholders to accomplish what others in the state have successfully achieved.”
Coal Train Coming For Austin: Check out our new video!
Austin Energy also provided a financial assessment of options to phase out, repower or sell the Fayette plant as part of the process to update its resource generation plan, but no such information has been made available to the public. The utility will conduct a stakeholder engagement process in February to gather additional input as the City considers an update to the utility’s generation plan, as well as multiple options for the future of the Fayette plant.
“Leadership is tough, and this City Council has proven time and time again they have the guts to serve Austinites well and live up to their commitment to make this city a national leader in combatting climate disruption,” said Cortez. “Wind and solar are now saving Texans money and yet the city is strapped to an expensive coal plant from the 1970’s. Phasing out the city’s share of the Fayette coal-fired power plant and replacing it with inexpensive clean energy and smart energy conservation measures is not only prudent, it’s what thousands of Austinites have clearly demanded over the past 5 years.”
The impacts of climate disruption are clear in Central Texas. Estimates show the 2011 Bastrop wildfires and recent Halloween floods in Onion Creek cost the region more than $467 million in damages, deaths and widespread hardship on families harmed by the extreme weather. According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, record drought has cost Texans $7.62 billion in agriculture losses.
“We appreciate Austin Energy and the City Attorney’s office for finally responding to Council’s mandate to look at the coal plant and study how we can move beyond coal,” noted Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director at the Lone Star Chapter.“Now, we need to incorporate this analysis into a fresh, wider look at our entire Generation Plan. By investing in more solar, wind and energy efficiency today, and locking in low prices for decades, we can not only phase out our use of coal by 2018, but create jobs, foster economic development and keep our electricity affordable. There is a real opportunity for leadership in 2014 – let’s rise to the challenge.”