ChangeAustin.org was formed 5 months after the Austin City Council rammed through a $2.3 billion, 20 year NO BID contract to purchase electricity from a biomass electrical (wood by-product burning) plant based in Nacogdoches, Texas, to provide energy for Austin Energy customers. This humongous deal was first noticed to the Austin public on August 7, 2008 and, incredibly, passed on August 29th unanimously by the Austin City Council.
Why did the Council give this the bums rush? Why was it a no bid contract? Even though biomass is said to be “carbon neutral”, could we have done better for Austin through renewables, particularly with local companies that are growing their businesses here? Wouldn’t it have been better for our local economy to spend $2.3 billion (if it was even necessary) locally to take advantage of the “multiplier effect” of keeping our dollars as local as possible? Most important, why wasn’t this massive deal — that made the Domain luxury mall subsidy look like spare change — put up for a proper vote of the people?
These two articles from the Austin Chronicle begin to tell the story. Don’t miss paragraph 8 in this first piece where Paul Robbins, longtime respected Austin environmental watchdog and author of the Austin Environmental Directory, gives his take on the deal.
Austin proclaims to be on the cutting edge of the “green revolution”. But are we? This deal is a huge justification for why Austin voters and businesses need real representation at City Hall. No more rush deals, we need full transparency, and we need to respect the rights of the voters to weigh in on issues that have such far reaching fiscal implications.
Let’s ChangeAustin.org y’all!
In this Chronicle piece, don’t miss the 4th paragraph discussing why there was no open bidding process for the deal:
Check back for our analysis soon.