Austin Energy Is Getting Ready to Update Its Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan and YOU Get a Say In It

South Conrgress Ave - Austin - Al Braden

Photo: South Congress Ave at night, by Al Braden.

By Cyrus Reed

Folks in Central Texas are about to have our best chance locally to shift away from fossil fuels and toward a more sustainable, equitable, affordable energy future… but only if we make our voices heard. We’ll start with some background about how Austin Energy has been planning for the future, and then we’ll tell you how you can get involved to ensure their plans reflect your priorities.

Since 2009, the second largest municipal utility electric provider in Texas – Austin Energy – has been a leader in implementing a public-facing process to update its resource plan: that is the mix of demand- and supply-side strategies to meet our electric energy needs. Known formally as the Austin Energy Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan, since 2009, Austin Energy has engaged with the community, relevant council advisory committees, an independent working group or task force, and Austin City Council (which serves as AE’s board of directors) – to come up with a resource plan that charts future strategies. 

The last time this occurred was in 2019-2020 when Austin Energy worked with a resource planning working group comprised of 17 individuals who collectively came up with the Austin Energy Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan to 2030. That plan was endorsed by City Council in March of 2020 and contained a variety of important goals and programs, including a promise to negotiate with the co-owner of the dirty and destructive Fayette Coal Plant to close one of the units – the aim was to end our use of coal by the end of 2022. Other important aspects of the plan included new ambitious goals on renewable energy, onsite solar, storage, demand response and energy efficiency, and a plan to shift away from utilizing our gas plants and toward an energy mix that produces no carbon by 2035 or sooner if feasible. 

When approving the plan, City Council also directed the Electric Utility Commission (EUC) to consider whether an update might be needed due to changing circumstances in 2023. The EUC let City Council know last year that things had indeed changed and they recommended an update with input from both Austin Energy, the Electric Utility Commission and other stakeholders. In December of 2022, City Council agreed and ordered Austin Energy to bring back a new, updated plan in early 2024. That resolution also required Austin Energy to consult with the Electric Utility Commission and encouraged the EUC to work with members of the Resource Management Commission and other stakeholders to better collaborate on an updated plan. In the past, this has been done through the formation of a separate working group.

So how’s the update going? 

Well, there’s some controversy about it. Specifically, Austin Energy is interpreting the update as a relatively modest “amendment” to the existing plan and appears to be seeking very modest changes, though they have yet to announce what those changes will be. Austin Energy did hold three “community” meetings last week, including one in-person meeting to get input, but the bulk of the time was spent by Austin Energy sharing some challenges they have going forward with the overall resource plan and answering related questions. A crowd of 50 to 60 folks at one of the public meetings were clearly frustrated at the lack of time to provide comments on any future plan, and many held up signs expressing their views on affordable energy and closing down the coal plant. 

In terms of soliciting community input, Austin Energy released a survey, but the survey only consists of five questions and doesn’t include items on key issues like what to do about the coal plant. Still, we do encourage members of the public served by Austin Energy to answer the survey and provide input, especially the final question which is open-ended. A copy of the survey can be found here

Wait, isn’t Austin Energy required to work with the Electric Utility Commission and a working group of stakeholders? 

Kind of. Austin Energy has promised to come to at least two and maybe more special meetings of the Electric Utility Commission to present their ideas on updates and get input and ultimately approval from the EUC before going to City Council early next year. 

However, unlike in previous resource plans, Austin Energy announced they do not intend to interact directly with a working group. Still undeterred, the Electric Utility Commission went ahead and formed a working group, consisting of five members of the EUC, five members of the Resource Management Commission and nine members of the community. The Working Group plans to begin meeting this month to begin assessing potential updates to the plan. Our very own Cyrus Reed sits on the EUC and is the chair of the working group, which will provide additional input to the EUC. 

Among the key questions will be how to close a coal plant when the other owner – the Lower Colorado River Authority – appears to only be interested in allowing part of the plant to be closed in return for a large payment, while still holding Austin Energy liable for any eventual clean-up or decommissioning costs. Another question is how to take advantage of massive federal funds available through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 that could help Austin Energy transition even faster toward clean energy and lower bills for customers. Finally, the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) is undergoing big changes, with the Texas Legislature reconfiguring their board and responsibilities and a Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) imposing new reliability standards, markets and services. In the big scheme of things, these changes make the grid more expensive and also prioritize the need for “dispatchable” generation – that is plants like gas that can turn off and on quickly but it could also include battery storage and geothermal resources -  that can react to hot afternoons or cold mornings. The question for Austin Energy and its customers is: what tools will we need to compete and provide these services but without producing carbon and without causing extra costs on customers? 

So how do we get involved? 

Austin Energy is a public municipal utility, and it is owned by the people. This resource plan update is the best chance we have locally to more quickly shift away from fossil fuels and toward a green future. We need your voice.

We are kicking off our campaign to encourage Austin Energy to better engage with the community with a Public Power Block Party on Sunday, September 24th at the Moontower Cider at 1916 Tillery Street in East Austin from 11am to 2pm. This will be a free, family-friendly event with food, music, guest speakers, activities (like mini solar-powered cars kids can race), and guest speakers from across Austin. Come for a good time and leave with concrete ideas on how you can be part of the conversation about our city’s energy and climate goals.

In addition, we do encourage folks to go to the EUC meetings. Every meeting begins with time for comments from the public; this is when you can show up and offer any and all ideas for what you’d like to see from Austin Energy. Information about those meetings can be found here:

The special EUC workgroup has created a simple website where all of its information about the meetings is held: A schedule for the Working Group has already been established with the below dates. All the meetings will be held at Austin Energy Headquarters on the first floor at 4815 Mueller Blvd, Austin, TX 78723.

Here is the initial schedule:

Conference Room Date Time
1133 9/12 3 to 5 PM
1133 9/26 3 to 5 PM
1133 10/10 3 to 5 PM
1125 10/24 3 to 5 PM
1125 11/7 3 to 5 PM
1133 11/21 3 to 5 PM
1133 12/5 3 to 5 PM


We need you to come and make your voices heard. We’ll see you at the 24th if not before! 

For more information, feel free to email our distributed community organizer Shane Johnson at