The Austin Chronicle

http://www.austinchronicle.com/feedback/2012-11-14/1383593/

More Water for Rice Farmers?

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 14, 2012

Dear Editor,
    It is unbelievable that the Lower Colorado River Authority would vote to sell rice farmers another 121,500 acre-feet of water from lakes only 43% full! Everyone has warned LCRA against this action: Sen. Troy Fraser, Sen. Kirk Watson, numerous Travis, Burnet, Blanco, and Llano county officials. Lake Interests presented petitions with thousands of signatures. Greg Meszaros warned of a drought worse than the 1950s. Mayor Leffingwell cited the rates: $161/ac-ft for firm customers and $6.50/ac-ft for “interruptible.”
    Is it possible that this is about selling hydroelectricity while pushing water downstream? LCRA’s 2011 hydroelectric sales peaked over $400/ac-ft. But that was 2011, when electric prices were capped at $1,500/MWh. Energy prices are on the rise: $5,000/MWh for 2013, $7,000/MWh for 2014, and $9,000/MWh for 2015. In October 2011, staff reported that hydroelectric revenues would no longer be reported as a line item, but would still benefit LCRA’s electric customers, not the firm water customers who subsidize “interruptible.”
    How can LCRA sell more “interruptible” at a 95% discount with storage less than half full, price signals on the rise, and their own meteorologist predicting continued drought?
Mary McAllister

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