Lower Colorado River Authority

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Lower Colorado River Authority
Type State Utility
Headquarters 3700 Lake Austin Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703
Area served TX
Key people Thomas G. Mason, General Manager
Industry Electric Producer and Utility
Water & Sewage Utility
Resource Management
Products Electricity, Water & Sewage
Revenue $1.08 billion (2007)[1]
Net income $43.6 million (2007)[1]
Employees 2,200 (2006)
Parent State of Texas
Website LCRA.org

The Lower Colorado River Authority or LCRA is a nonprofit public utility that was formed in 1934 by the Texas Legislature. LCRA's mission is to protect people, property and the environment by providing public services for more than one million people in Central and Southeast Texas. These services include electric and water supplies, flood management, water and wastewater utilities, public parks along the Highland Lakes and lower Colorado River, and community and economic development services to rural and suburban communities. Austin Energy owns 50% of Fayette Power Project's two units (Unit 1 and Unit 2).

Power portfolio

Out of its total 3,641 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity in 2005 (0.34% of the U.S. total), LCRA produced 46.4% from coal, 46.1% from natural gas, and 7.5% from hydroelectricity. All of LCRA's power plants are in Texas.[2]

Existing coal-fired power plants

LCRA owned 1 coal-fired power plant in 2005, with 1,690 MW of capacity:[2][3][4]

Plant Name State County Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions
Fayette TX Fayette 1979, 1980, 1988 1690 MW 12,000,000 tons 27,597 tons

Citizen Action

The Sierra Club and Public Citizen believe the Fayette Power Project ought to stop its coal-burning by 2020. In November of 2009 the nine-member Austin Generation Resource Planning Task Force voted to improve Austin Energy’s proposed Generation Plan for 2020. In addition, five out of the nine members of the Task Force – including representatives from Sierra Club and Public Citizen – endorsed the Plan itself but recommended that Austin Energy set a target of ending Austin’s coal addiction by 2020. Austin Energy generates a portion of its power from the coal-fired plant.

“Public Citizen and Sierra Club agree that we can and must get out of the coal plant by 2020, and with this recommendation, the Austin Generation Resource Planning Task Force has set up a process to do that,” said Public Citizen’s Matthew Johnson.

The groups hope to move forward with pubic support to shut the plant down prior to 2020.[5]

Groups plan to sue coal plant touted as green success

In mid-July 2010, three environmental groups, the Environmental Integrity Project, the Texas Campaign for the Environment, and Environment Texas, announced that they were intending to file suit over over 10,000 alleged violations of federal air regulations. Lower Colorado River Authority, a publicly owned utility that runs the 1,641-megawatt Fayette Power Project near La Grange, Texas.

"In Texas, air pollution permits are flexible alright -- flexible enough to allow coal-fired power plants like the Fayette plant to avoid tougher federal emission limits, violate the weaker substitute standards offered by the Texas regulators, and short-change Texas taxpayers by failing to pay fees that are supposed to be used to improve air quality," said Ilan Levin, a senior attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, in a statement about the suit.[6]

Farmers, pecan growers say coal plant kills plants

In December 2010, plant experts, scientists, environmentalists and ranchers stated that they believe sulfur dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants is slowly killing vegetation across Texas, in particular pollution from the Fayette Power Project.

Sulfur dioxide has been known to kill vegetation in other parts of the country. In Texas, the deaths of pecan trees, oaks, elms and willows have been documented.

In Central Texas, not far from the Fayette plant, pecan growers claimed thousands of trees have died and nut production has steadily decreased since the plant began operating in 1979. After consulting science experts, the growers contended that sulfur dioxide emissions from the plant were the cause.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing the data and is expected to respond in early 2011 on their findings.[7]

Suit filed over Fayette coal plant

On March 7, 2010 three environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit against the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Fayette Power Project. The groups, which included Environmental Integrity Project, Austin-based Environment Texas and Texas Campaign for the Environment, claimed the Fayette Power Project violated the federal Clean Air Act thousands of times. The plaintiffs alleged the company increased capacity and as a result, levels of dangerous particle pollution, which has been linked to asthma and heart and lung disease.[8]

Coal lobbying

Lower Colorado River Authority is a member of the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA), an umbrella lobbying group for all coal ash interests that includes major coal burners Duke Energy, Southern Company and American Electric Power as well as dozens of other companies. The group argues that the so-called "beneficial-use industry" would be eliminated if a "hazardous" designation was given for coal ash waste.[9]

ACAA set up a front group called Citizens for Recycling First, which argues that using toxic coal ash as fill in other products is safe, despite evidence to the contrary.[9]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Annual Report - Fiscal Year 2007, Lower Colorado River Authority, 2007, p. 2.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
  3. Environmental Integrity Project, Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants, July 2007.
  4. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  5. "Austin Energy Task Force Approves Consensus Recommendations on Electric Power Generation" Lone Star Sierra Club Chapter, accessed April 11, 2010.
  6. "Enviro Groups to Sue Coal Plant Touted by Texas as Permitting Success" Gabriel Nelson, July 15, 2010, New York Times.
  7. "Farmers, pecan growers say coal plant kills plants" Ramit Plushnick-Matsi, Business Week, December 28, 2010.
  8. "Suit filed over coal-fired plant SE of Austin" Houston Business Journal, March 7, 2011.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Coal-Fired Utilities to American Public: Kiss my Ash DeSmogBlog.com & PolluterWatch, October 27, 2010.

Related SourceWatch Articles

External Articles

Wikipedia also has an article on Lower Colorado River Authority. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.