Austin Energy's 2020 generation plan goes to City Council for a vote on Thursday, April 22, after more than a year and a half of public discussion. AE hopes to achieve 800 megawatts of energy efficiency savings, 1,000 megawatts of wind capacity, 200 megawatts of solar, and 50 megawatts of biomass by 2020 while reducing reliance on the Fayette coal plant and adding a new combined cycle gas turbine. (For complete details, see www.austinsmartenergy.com
.) AE estimates that under the plan, residential customers in 2020 would be paying an extra $0.02 per kilowatt hour – a rate increase of about 22% (notably, that increase applies to the electricity rate, not an entire utility bill). For the average household, which uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, the estimated impact would be $21 per bill. Disagreements over cost have fueled controversy in public discussions of AE's recommendations, but supporters say the plan – premised on best guesses about a volatile energy market and uncertain regulatory future – can be adapted to changing times. "We put into it some significant thresholds for re-evaluating before going forward and having public input at each point," says Chris Herbert, chair of the Resource Management Commission. On the other hand, she said, "We may not have the right tools to get us to the right place if we don't have a destination in mind."