Beyond Solar, Austin Energy Not Doing What It Could

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 8, 2003

Editor,
    Converting to solar energy may be possible 20 years from now, but there are things Austin Energy could do now to reduce pollution ["AE Drops a Solar Bomb," News, Dec. 5]. Its Fayette power plant, co-owned with LCRA, puts out 170 tons of ozone-forming pollutants on a typical high-ozone day. By comparison, all of the cars and trucks in the metro area release about 160 tons per day.
    Our vehicle miles traveled have quintupled since 1973, but auto emissions have declined because of the enormous advances in engine design. Auto emissions will continue to fall as cleaner cars are sold and older models are retired. But Fayette just goes on polluting.
    The Clean Air Force has proposed tailpipe testing of cars with the goal of eliminating 7 tons of auto emissions. Austin Energy could clean up Fayette and eliminate 85 tons.
    Republicans on the Clean Air Force and TCEQ have decided that cleaning up Fayette would be bad for business. Democrats go along to get along.
    Folks who want solar energy should understand the irony. As long as Austin Energy can sell dirty energy, solar will never have a chance.
Vincent J. May
Elgin, Texas
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