Time to show your support for solar, and your opposition to new nuclear power!
Rumor has it that Austin City Councilman Mike Martinez is the force pushing hard to bring back the Nuclear proposal and to dump the Solar project. With the big city right down 35 rolling out a major new green agenda and huge proposed changes in their utility, are we going to see San antonio leave us and the Green jobs agenda behind in a cloud of brown dust. We've got Grandma coming back, like some of the nuclear waste that we cant get rid of, and now this, is it going to be 1978 all over again?
On Thursday, Austin City Council will take up the issues of nuclear energy and solar energy. We can't think of a better picture to illustrate the
fork in the road we face when it comes to Austin 's energy future.
Item 3 on the agenda: Austin Energy will appropriately recommend, again, that the City of Austin not invest in expansion of the South Texas Project. Austin Energy hired the pro-nuclear consulting firm Worley Parsons to examine the proposal, which concluded that Austin 's share of the proposed 3rd & 4th reactors would cost around $2 billion (that's only 16% of the total). Our solid credit rating would likely decline due to the large amount of debt the city would have to issue coupled with the high risk of cost overruns and schedule delays typically associated with nuclear power plants. Furthermore, the addition of 432 megawatts of baseload nuclear power does not fit with Austin 's projected electric demand forecast. This deal didn't make sense in 2007 or 2008. It makes even less sense in 2009.
New nuclear power economics are frightening (numerous studies show the cost range from $12.5-17.5 billion and up), and it's a down right nasty way to make electric power. Uranium mine sites plague groundwater sources, there is no plan in place to deal with the waste, and Texas can ill-afford to devote its precious water resources to running a radioactive water boiler.
We don't need to go down the nuclear path again. We've learned from the mistakes of previous councils. Remember, Carole Keeton McClellan [Strayhorn] was mayor of Austin (1977-1983) when the city trapped itself in the boondoggle that was the first two units at STNP. Read the Austin Chronicle article from 2006 (scroll down to "Nailed to the Nuke"):
She is running for mayor again. We wonder where Strayhorn, Leffingwell, and McCracken stand on this issue, which could become a larger issue in the mayoral election.
Better options exist. Come out and voice your opposition to new nuclear power.
Item 16 on the agenda: Austin Energy will recommend that Council approve a plan to invest in 30 megawatts of solar power from the proposed solar plant near Webberville. This project is a good start down the path toward a renewable energy future for Austin . The 25 year $250 million contract with California-based Gemini Solar Development Company will provide Austinites clean, renewable power from one of the largest photovoltaic arrays in the world. Solar beats new nuclear power on cost, environment and meeting peak demand.
Solar power may seem expensive, but compared to what it costs to run natural gas plants to cover the same peak period and it's associated environmental impacts, it's a winner.
Some have raised objection to the fact that the solar panels are not local. Buying local is always preferable, but it's not always feasible. There are no Texas companies that can currently manufacture panels for this sized plant. And while a California company has gotten the first contract because of California 's commitment to solar, local contractors and products can be used to construct and maintain the facility. Austin will still own the land too. We hope that with more plants like this one, solar companies will get the message that Texas is open for business.
We expect a large pro-nuclear/anti-solar turnout, so it is critical you come out to City Council this Thursday, Feb 12, and sign up to speak. Voice your support for solar power. Tell City Council you want more!
Council convenes at 10 AM.
Learn more about the agenda items:
CoA background material on nuclear agenda item:
IEER cost estimate comparison study:
CoA background material on solar agenda item:
Learn more about Clean Energy options for Texas at:
Public Citizen and a host of other organizations recently released a report on Texas and its solar potential: