For more information, contact: Cyrus Reed, Sierra Club,
512-740-4086 or 477-1729 Donna Hoffman, Sierra Club, 512-299-5776,
Matt Johnson, Public Citizen, 512-477-1155
Austin Generation Task Force Recommends Increasing Energy
Efficiency and On-site Renewable Power and Further Reducing
Rallies, Bike Rides
and Hikes for Clean Power, Green Jobs, and Clean
Air ask EPA to stop TCEQ from Permitting New Coal
Majority endorses Austin Generation Plan with
Increased Commitment to End Coal Addiction
(Austin) The nine-member Austin Generation Resource Planning
Task Force unanimously approved a suite of recommendations
on November 5th to improve Austin Energy’s proposed Generation Plan. Five out of the nine members endorsed the Plan with an additional provision to set a target of ending our coal addiction by 2020.
“Business leaders, environmentalists and energy experts
on the Task Force agreed that Austin Energy can and should
do even more on energy efficiency and on-site distributed
solar,” noted Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Some on the Task Force didn’t
want to take a specific stand on coal-burning, while some
thought we should commit to phasing out the coal plant by
2014. In the spirit of consensus, five agreed that we should
set a target by 2020, and then during the next two years
look at how fast we can do it.”
The Mayor’s appointed Task Force met for approximately five months, reviewing more than 15 potential scenarios for managing Austin’s energy and crafted a series of recommendations to City Council on how to improve the municipal utility’s recommended plan.
The Task Force did not reach a consensus endorsement of Austin Energy’s proposal to get 35 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020, while running its portion of the coal-fired Fayette Power Plant less and increasing energy efficiency programs. However, the nine-member task force did reach consensus on other goals, including:
• Raising the energy efficiency goal to reduce total demand by 1,000 megawatts by 2020, an increase of 200 megawatts compared to Austin Energy’s Recommended Plan;
• A specific recommendation on energy efficiency programs for low-income Austinites to continue to fund weatherization programs for those at 200 percent or less of the poverty level;
• Creating a separate 300 megawatt goal for sustainable on-site distributed renewable energy resources like solar and geothermal through rebates, loans, and other incentives;
• Creating a much more transparent and public process for future decision-making on energy, including much more information-sharing on rates, fuel charges and reliability indicators;
• Reviewing the Generation Plan in a public process every two years to see if it should be revised;
• Creating a specific carbon dioxide cap aligned with the generation plan that commits Austin Energy to go beyond any federal mandates and make reductions in carbon dioxide from all resources when adding any new carbon resources like natural gas plants.
Five out of the nine members of the Task Force endorsed the Austin Energy Generation Plan with the recommendation that Austin Energy commit to a target to further ramp down or phase out its reliance on burning coal for electricity by 2020, with a re-assessment within two years showing if it is economically and technologically feasible. Public Citizen and Sierra Club developed the successful resolution to phase out coal.
“Public Citizen and Sierra Club agree that we can
and must get out of the coal plant by 2020, and with this
recommendation to City Council, the Austin Generation Resource
Planning Task Force has set up a process to do that,” noted Public Citizen’s Matthew Johnson, who also served on the Task Force.