City Finalizes Contract To Remove Holly Power Plant

Jul 18, 2011

After months of wrangling over a contract process, the city is moving forward on a process to remove the Holly Street Power Plant in East Austin. Austin Energy posted on its official blog today that the city completed contract negotiations with TRC Environmental Corporation. TRC will “disassemble” the Holly Power Plant, and sell off some of the scrap to cover costs associated with the demolition.

But first, TRC has to spend several months “acquiring permits and submitting project plans for Austin Energy review and approval,” according to the blog. That includes a formal demolition plan and a way to deal with lead and asbestos in the industrial facility.

Demolition is set to begin in September and be completed in early 2013.

TRC was awarded the contract in May after a process fraught with allegations of bid fixing and poor city oversight. TRC slashed its initial bid in half, from $25 million to $11.5 million, after competing firms protested and city council re-opened the bidding process. The city ultimately decided to go with TRC.

The Holly Street Power Plant was closed in 2007 after years of complaints by neighbors and a concerted campaign by environmental justice groups such as PODER. Some activists claimed nearby communities had a higher incidence of cancer because of the plant. A federal study in 1999 refuted that specific claim, but found that noise levels generated by the plant exceeded those “normally deemed acceptable” by the United States Housing and Urban Development Authority.