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Will Austin Energy’s Generation Plan Make Your Electric Bill Too Expensive?

2010 February 23
West TX Wind Farm

West Texas Wind Turbines

Will your energy come from a coal-fired plant next year?  How much will your bill be in 2012?  How much in 2020?  After attending Leffingwell’s town hall meeting yesterday at the Palmer Events Center, the question we should ask is: Should we pass the Austin Energy Generation Plan?

The Run Down:

Austin Energy has an Energy Generation Plan Recommendation [PDF] that outlines specific goals and provisions for Austin to adhere to in the next 10 years. Roger Duncan of Austin Energy stressed that their recommended plan strikes a balance to deliver clean energy that is both affordable and reliable.  A couple of key points from the plan include:

  • Reduce carbon emissions for Austin Energy by 20%
  • Increase renewable energy consumption to 36.7%
  • Reduce use of the Fayette Coal Plant by 25-30%
  • Significantly reduce water usage
  • Check out’s complete rundown of the plan

The Opposition’s Top 3 Arguments:


Fayette Power Plant is one of the dirtiest plants in Texas.

  • It’s not enough. Some feel that Austin should be running on 100% renewable energy by 2020 and that Fayette Coal Plant, one of the dirtiest in the state, should close completely.  Global warming is a serious issue, and we must act as quickly as possible to do all that we can as a leading city in the green movement.
  • It’s too expensive. Those, like Carol Biedrzycki, are against the plan because of the cost expenses.  There is a great concern for how affordable energy will be when a plan, if any, gets passed.  Carol feels there is not enough attention focused on keeping electric bills affordable for Austin’s low income families.
  • This isn’t the final plan.  We could always go back to the drawing board and try to come up with another plan.

Is there a fiscally prudent solution?

Before the meeting, I was aligned with the “Close Fayette Plant” [PDF] team. They want to close the coal-burning plant and move to 100% renewable energy by 2020.  I’ve always thought our environmental health was worth any cost.  However, if the recession has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t spend what you don’t have.

Something must be done now.  I simply don’t think we have the time to go back to the drawing board. At this point, I think that we should pass this plan and begin working towards a cleaner future.

Ok, then what should we do?

Phillip Schmandt, Chair of Generation Task Force, advised the plan be passed with the provision that every two years, cost and needs of renewable energy be reevaluated.  If wind energy is more affordable in two years, we can work ahead of schedule and do what makes sense for Austin at that time. So simple, so smart.

Bottom line is, we need a flexible plan that outlines details of what Austin needs to be doing to reach our goals of the Austin Climate Protection Plan of 2007 now.  We pass now, and we keep fighting.

COMMENT: What’s your take on all of this? Do you think the new plan will leave low-income families in the dark? Should we wait until there’s a perfect plan?

PARTICIPATE: Learn about the Task Force. Don’t wait for the city to pass a plan.  Take action by switching your bill to renewable energy.

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  1. February 23, 2010

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    ROA Will Austin Energy’s Generation Plan Make Your Electric Bill Too Expensive?: West Texas Wind Turbine… [link to post] via @ATX4U

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