Tag Archives: Fayette Coal Plant

Austin City Council and Electric Utility Commission name 8 of 9 members of Austin Energy Generation and Resource Planning Task Force; approves 150 MW solar plant

This week, the Austin City Council officially named 7 of the 9 members of the Austin Generation and Resource Planning Task Force, while the Electric Utility Commission named their member, solar advocate and local attorney Clay Butler. Remaining to be named is a member of the Resource Management Commission, which is expected to meet on April 15th to choose their member. Word on the street is the first meeting of the new Task Force will be April 16th. Task force is expected to make final recommendations on Austin Energy’s Generaton Plan through 2024 in June. Sierra Club will be on the committee through our Lone Star Chapter Conservation Director Cyrus Reed, who served on the original task force in 2010. The Task Force will look at future of solar, wind, energy efficiency, gas and coal in Austin’s generation portfolio. 

In other news, Austin City Council did approve the 150 MW SunEdison solar contract at a reported 4.8 cents per kilowatt hour. The two utility-scale projects would be built in West Texas and be operational by 2016, at which time Austin Energy would meet its 35% renewable energy goals. 


1. Barry Dreyling, Spansion (Mayor Leffingwell)

2. Cyrus Reed, Sierra Club (Mayor Pro Tem Cole)

3. Michele Van Hyfte, Seton (Council Member Spelman)

4. MIchael Osborne, Former VP at Austin Energy (Council Member Riley)

5. Tom “Smitty” Smith, Public Citizen (Council Member Morrison)

6. Carol Biedrzyck, Texas ROSE (Council Member Martinez)

7. Mike Sloan, Virtus Energy (Council Member Tovo)

8. Clay Butler, Butler Firm (Electric Utility Commission representative)

9. To Be Named,  Resource Management Commission 

Lake Travis Party a Hit!

Austin Beyond Coal
Photo by Craig Nazor

Austin Beyond Coal sure knows how to throw a party!

Last Saturday, November 17th, the Austin Beyond Coal campaign hosted a great lakeside party at the Iguana Grill to kick off efforts in the lakes region to phase out the Fayette coal-fired power plant.

The Fayette Power Project is a 1,600 MW coal plant plant located in Fayette County, Texas that uses more than 5 billion gallons of water from our river and lakes every single year.  In a time of extreme drought, this is water that could be put to better use supporting our communities and farms, or simply being conserved.   As you’ll see in the pictures below, the fact that we are still in one of the worst droughts this state has every seen was very obvious while out on Lake Travis last weekend.

Lake Travis
Photo by Craig Nazor

Attendees heard from Austin Beyond Coal volunteers as well as Dr. Lauren Ross, an engineer who knows quite a bit about the relationship between water, coal and the LCRA; all of this while enjoying great food, great music from the Bouldin Creek Bobkat Band and a beautiful Texas sunset.

Bouldin Creek Bobkat Band
Photo by Craig Nazor

Missed out? No problem! For information on how to get involved in efforts to phase out of the Fayette coal plant and free up 5 billion gallons of water a year, email lydia.avila@sierraclub.org.

– Lydia Avila, Associate Field Representative for Beyond Coal

Two new developments in the Austin Beyond Coal movement — solar and efficiency

Fresh on the heels of this weekend’s  big, massive BEYOND COAL earthday festivities in Austin, Texas, two new developments this week show in a practical sense how Austin can become one of the largest metropolitan areas to move beyond coal. First, tomorrow at City Council, a resolution sponsored by Councilmembers Spelman and Morrisson would form a nine-member task force to work with Austin Energy on an onsite solar goal and program for 2015 and 2020. A couple of years ago a Generation Task Force recommended that Austin set a 300 MW goal for 2020 for distributed renewable resources like PV solar panels. While the final Generation Plan adopted by Austin Energy and City Council did not include the distributed solar goal, they did say they would study the issue. Tomorrow, City Council will finally take the next step and ask nine experts to come up with a plan. Sierra Club believes it makes a whole lot more sense to spend our money on local solar and energy efficiency jobs and resources than spending $100 million a year just to import thousands of tons of coal and burn it at the dirty coal plant at Fayette. What’s good for Wyoming Coal Mining companies ain’t good for Austin, Texas!

If you are in Austin, consider dropping by City Council tomorrow and signing up in support of the resolution, which is Item 81 on their agenda. Meeting starts at 9:30 AM.

So what’s the second development you ask? Energy efficiency. The Generation Task Force adopted a goal of 800 MW of energy efficiency and demand response by 2020, but also recommended an energy efficiency potential study to see if we could do even more.

This week, Austin Energy released a very preliminary draft study done by Kema, a consultant our of California. The study — called Austin Energy DSM -Market Potential Assessment — (I call it AEDSMMPTA for short) — has lots of graphs and numbers and probably needs some further analysis. But what it says is there is the technical potential to reduce demand from EXISTING buildings by 793 MWs by 2020. Wait, you say — that’ s less than our stated goal by 2020! But you see there are new buildings coming into the Austin Energy service area all the time. And the report says there are about 15 MWs a year of additional energy savings by building those new buildings right. So add all that together and that’s 950 MWs of energy efficiency waiting to be had..

We think with a little work we can state that we can get well beyond 1,000 MWs of demand reduction in Austin, Texas — a pretty great way to get beyond coal, but stakeholders, Austin Energy and the Council will work on the report this summer to come up with a final plan.

How do we get out of coal? 950 or 1,000 MWs of Energy Efficiency and 300 MWs of onsite solar is a pretty good way.

Let’s Roll Beyond Coal in Austin.. Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director, Sierra Club

Austin’s Electric Utility Commission approves new wind contract; considers proposed rate case

In a further boost to Austin Energy’s clean energy mix, the Electric Utility Commission unanimously recommended that the municipal utility go forward with a proposed contract with Iberdrola Renewables to get up to 200 MWs of coastal wind energy from their Kenedy Ranch project known as Peñascal Wind. The proposal would double Ibedrola’s current capacity, as Ibedrola currently serves power to CPS Energy in San Antonio and the South Texas Electric Cooperative. The proposal will now go to Austin City Council for final approval.

Penascal Wind Farm

According to Austin Energy’s Michael Osborne, the price per megawatt hour will be in the $40 to $45 dollar range, competitive with natural gas. With the proposed additional 200 MWs from Ibedrola, plus the Webberville Solar Project and two previous wind contracts approved by Austin Energy last week, Austin Energy should be well on their way to meeting their city-approved goal of 35 % renewable energy by 2020. Importantly, Iberdrola has agreed to continue to use avian radar technology to curtail the wind power during migratory, low-visibility events.

In addition to the contract, the EUC held a three- hour public hearing on Austin Energy’s proposed rate increase. Dozens of individuals and organization presented their views, which for the most part felt Austin Energy’s proposal put too much of a rate increase on residential customers, and in particular, on those not using much electricity, the wrong message for a utility committed to a large energy efficiency goal. Sierra Club made its own presentation about how to align the rate case with our generation plan to grow renewables and lessen our dependence upon dirty coal. For more information about the rate case and our efforts to get Austin off coal, see this facebook page. Look for a fullscale website soon!

Cyrus Reed, Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club