Tag Archives: Tenaska

Sweetwater Exposed in Negotiations to Sell Water to Tenaska

Things have been heating up in West Texas as Tenaska gets more and more desperate to find water to cool it’s proposed coal plant in Nolan County. Tenaska, in it’s increasingly desperate attempts to obtain water has been turning to back room deals and negotiations to try and cobble together the water needed for the plant.

These underhanded deals began earlier this year with the city of Stamford signing a water contract with Tenaska. The City of Stamford negotiated for over one year before it’s citizens even heard of the existence of this contract. Then when the existence of a contract did come to light, the City of Stamford rushed through a vote on the water contract within a period of a few weeks in an attempt to squash constituent feedback.

Sweetwater, a town that had abandoned negotiations with Tenaska in 2010, has now been back in talks with Tenaska to sell their water. This was beknownst to Sweetwater’s citizens until last month when the City finally released documents to the Sierra Club detailing these negotiations. These documents were only wrenched from the city’s hands after the Sierra Club submitted an open record’s request to the city.

The City of Sweetwater has been in negotiations with Tenaska for the past 7 months, without any public notice. Understandably, residents are outraged at the notion that Sweetwater officials have been bargaining away their water rights, without even consulting them. Selling such a precious public resource is not something that should be entered into lightly without public input, and that is exactly what the City of Sweetwater is doing.

The water in consideration is effluent, or “wastewater,” produced by the city. The term wastewater is misleading though, with many cities throughout Texas turning to wastewater as a way to meet water shortages during the drought. Effluent water can be used for irrigation in agriculture and sports fields. Some cities even utilize advanced filtration to circulate it with their drinking water. These are methods of usage that Sweetwater could potentially need to turn to in the future, should the drought continue or worsen. Economically, this potential deal is also bad news for Sweetwater residents, with Tenaska getting this water for pennies on the dollar compared to what local citizens pay.

Residents have a right to know why the City is considering selling water to a coal plant for dirt cheap, in a back room deal, during one of the worst droughts in history. Numerous brave residents did speak out at last week’s Sweetwater City Commission meeting, only to be ridiculed by City officials. The City of Sweetwater has accused groups such as the Sierra Club and Texans Against Tenaska of being conspirators about this water contract, but it is only because of the diligence of local citizens that these negotiations have come to light. This sort of attitude towards constituents is inappropriate and unacceptable. It is time that the City of Sweetwater come clean about its dealings with Tenaska and open up these contract negotiations for public input.

No Stamford Water for Proposed Tenaska Coal Plant

West Texas Doesn’t Have Enough Water to Sell to a Coal Plant

Hydrological Report Shows: Stamford Must Not Sell its Water for Proposed Tenaska Coal Plant

A water report released today by Sierra Club and citizens of the west Texas cities of Stamford, Sweetwater, and Abilene concludes that if a water contract is granted to the proposed Tenaska coal-fired power plant, it would severely diminish water supplies where current water demands are significantly unmet by the available supply.  The report by Glenrose Engineering, “Lack of Water Availability from City of Stamford for the Proposed Tenaska Coal-Fired Power Plant,” finds that operations of the proposed Tenaska coal plant, if contracted, would require a consistent water supply even during drought conditions and would cut deeply into the available water supply, displacing existing water users.

“The financial temptations are strong for communities who are suffering economically,” said Dr. Jeff Haseltine, a professor at Abilene Christian University.  “But while Tenaska can make it rain money, Tenaska can’t make it rain rain.” 

The past two years the proposed Tenaska coal plant has been negotiating behind closed doors with the City of Stamford for a water contract that could lock in water withdrawals from the City’s water supply, Lake Stamford, for up to 30 years.

“The bottom line is that we are facing one of the worst droughts on record in the state of Texas, and west Texas is seeing the worst of it,” said Eva Hernandez with the Sierra Club in Texas.  “There is no telling when it will rain and the drought will let up.  Giving water to an unnecessary coal plant would be irresponsible, especially when the energy from the coal plant is not even needed in the state.[1]

 According to the hydrological study released today:

  • Existing permits for Lake Stamford are already more than double the one-year safe reservoir yield.
  • The City of Stamford wastewater effluent volume is about one quarter of the proposed power plant demand.
  • Increasing lake withdrawals to meet power plant water demands could increase water treatment costs for existing City of Stamford potable water customers during critical drought conditions.
  • It would leave less water in the reservoir to meet existing unmet water demands in Haskell County for agricultural irrigation.

Eric Herm, West Texas farmer and author warns, “There is no substitute for water.  No alternative. Money and its false promise comes and goes without fulfilling our lives or nourishing our bodies. Without the coal plant, we still survive. Without water, we do not. We have to be extremely careful with our remaining water supply, particularly in our arid climate. Corporations like big coal companies could care less about the long-term effects of sucking dry our aquifers sooner than later. They’ll move on to the next town or area. For those of us who call West Texas home, it is our duty to protect our water supply from negligent use — no matter how much money they promise.” 

An earlier analysis of wastewater effluent, ground and surface water availability in Nolan County concluded that existing water demands in that county also could not be met with available water supplies and also recommends against selling Nolan County’s water to the proposed Tenaska coal plant.

Yes!  Its a footnote in a blog post.  [1] The state’s electricity grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) stated in its May 2011 Report on the Capacity, Demand, and Reserves in the ERCOT Region that the supply of energy is outpacing demand and concludes Texas has additional energy reserves – a 21% cushion when the requirement is 13%.

For more information, contact:  Eva Hernandez, Sierra Club, 512-299-1550, Dr. Jeff Haseltine, Abilenians Against Tenaska, 325-280-3669, Whitney Root, Texans Against Tenaska 325-455-5652

Still Wondering… What do we do When the Well Runs Dry?

Guest Blog post by Dean Speer, Abliene, TX local resident and student at University of California, Berkely College of Natural Resources.


In a state that is suffering through severe droughts and hosting numerous dry rivers and fading lakes, Water has become paramount. The fact is that 94% of Texas is in a current state of drought, with nearly 50% of the state experiencing what has been labeled “exceptional drought”. These droughts are expected to continue with the possibility of an increase in their severity. As if this wouldn’t be enough to get most Texans worrying, wildfires are raging across the countryside destroying homes and plaguing ranchers and farmers. This could make any person wonder what is going to be left of this great state for their children.

Don’t take my word for it, research it for yourself.

Personally I found an article devoted to Droughts within Texas and another about the the dwindling lake levels. With the ever increasing population of Texas I wasn’t surprised to find an article about the growing demand of water facing the shortage in supply of water. Sadly it gets worse, I also educated myself on how a lack of water threatens the growth of our state. The Hill country itself is in a harsh drought that is starting to affect more than humans..

In the heat of this disaster, while cities and individuals are coming together to try and secure what scarce water resources remain for the essentials of drinking, agriculture and local business, Tenaska has been behind the scenes trying to make thirty year contracts for thousands of acre feet of water per year to cool their coal plant facilities. Contracts that would even under the extreme conditions of drought provide water to the coal plant despite the possible needs of families. Tenaska is a business that operates for profits, not for the betterment and protection of the people it is taking its water resources from. Our children could go to bed thirsty while the Tenaska pipes surge with water.

After the coal plant failed to wrangle Abilene and Sweetwater out of their water, Tenaska has targeted Stamford. A recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) probe has shown that representatives of the City of Stamford and Tenaska have, without the public’s knowledge or input, been negotiating a water contract since 2009. This contract states that the city of Stamford would provide “firm supply and firm transportation of raw water from Lake Stamford for water demands” of the coal plant. The FOIA probe also showed that Tenaska is funding the lawyers who are advising the city of Stamford, over $65,000, on the contract. When people who are in charge of protecting the citizens are receiving advice paid for by the same company who is trying to take their water a person is left wondering whether or not their best interests are being protected.

The result is the rise of local citizens to protect their own best interests and futures. Grassroots organizations like Texans Against Tenaska and Abilenians Against Tenaska provide the information Tenaska does not to elected officials, their neighboring residents and the business and agricultural communities. Real people are coming together and building the momentum needed to save their right to water by stopping Tenaska.

The question Texans should be asking themselves is whether we need water or we need more energy? According to the “State of the market” report published by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas our supply of energy is outpacing our demand. The cherry on the top is that our energy reserves used to cushion major outages, required at 13% of total use, is at 21%. On one hand we have water (droughts, shortages, hazy futures) and on the other hand we have the Tenaska coal plant (water guzzling, dirty, surplus of energy). You decide, because if you remain silent Tenaska will decide for you.

For more information or to volunteer your talents,

see http://texansagainsttenaska.org/ or ‘friend’ Texans Against Tenaska on Facebook.

Send an email to the Stamford Mayor and city council members now before it’s too late.   You can send a message even if you don’t live in the city of Stamford.   Click here, and spread the word!

–Dean Speer

Tenaska Coal Plant Threatens to Dump 130 pounds of Mercury Every Year

Coal-fired power plants are one of the largest sources of pollution in our country. They emit thousands of pounds of toxic mercury pollution every year, but also arsenic, lead and acid gases.

Below is an excerpt from Joe Starkey’s article in the West Texas Tribune.  For the full article – click here.

How can you call CLEAN a plant that intends to dump 130 pounds of Mercury into our land per year? and tons of coal ash?

Please stop talking about the Tenaska Trailblazer plant as an economic boon to this region. Just looking at the mercury pollution from this plant shows how much it would cost us. A child living in the toxic footprint of a coal plant (yes Abilene and Sweetwater would be in the toxic footprint of the Trailblazer Plant) is 2% more likely to suffer from Autism. The cost per Autistic child to the community is estimated to be $3,200,000.00 over the lifetime of that child. Those figures are part of the findings in the first study to comprehensively survey and document the costs of autism to U.S. society. Michael Ganz , Assistant Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, authored the study.

An increase of only one autistic child would eat up 7 years of water income from this plant. Current figures from Region 14 show almost 200 children being treated for Autism. A 2% increase per year over the next 50 years (projected life of this plant) would mean Abilene paying for an additional 300 children with autisim who would not have in the normal course of events been affected. This would cost us approximately TEN BILLION dollars over the life of the plant.

– Joe Starkey is a photojournalist for the West Texas Tribune. His parents home have their south fence as Tenaska’s north fence. His 200 acres, where he learned to fish, hunt and care for cows, is about 3 miles north of Tenaska.

Texans deserve better.  Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to come out with new rules to regulate Mercury across the country.  Stay tuned.

–Eva Hernandez, Field Organizing Manger, Beyond Coal Campaign

Tenaska’s plans for Abilene: All Dried Up

Abilene, TX- Earlier today, Tenaska pulled out of talks with the City of Abilene regarding the purchase of water for the proposed coal-fired power plant. Mayor Norm Archibald announced that Abilene would not sell water to Tenaska, expressing his concerns about the city’s future water supply. Lauren Ross of Glenrose Engineering indicated that even if the plant’s water demands were significantly reduced, “The water demands of the proposed Tenaska facility cannot be met with Nolan County water supply resources unless existing uses are displaced.” Reports noted that Abilene’s effluent water has been decreasing, thereby increasing the gap between the supply and demand for water. Opposition to the plant’s creation is strong. It seems that the few sources of water are still unwilling to sell to the dirty coal plant.


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