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Holly Power Plant Demolition Bidder Gets Litigious

Holly Street Power Plant
Image by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

CST Environmental, a company based in San Leandro, California, is suing the city because it wasn't awarded a bid to demolish a decommissioned power plant in East Austin, according to the Austin Business Journal.

CST Environmental, which claims more than $90 million in annual sales, last week sent a complaint to city officials asking why a $26.1 million bid was picked over its $13.8 million proposal, according to published reports. CST was one of six companies vying for the contract — originally budgeted at about $10 million — but was dropped from the process without an interview. A Travis County District Court clerk confirmed CST filed the lawsuit against the city this morning. The case (D-1GN-10-004478) will be available for review online this afternoon, the clerk said. City attorneys could not immediately be reached. Attorney Thomas Nesbitt filed the suit on behalf of CST.

Demolishing the plant won't be a big spectacle involving pounds of TNT. Instead, the facility will be slowly dismantled over the course of 18 months. Steel, copper, and other materials that can be salvaged would be sold on the international commodities market.

The plant was highly controversial towards the end of its 50 year life in East Austin. Environmental justice activists like Poder campaigned for years to have the plant shut down.

A 1999 study by the federal government dismissed claims the plant had led to increased cancer rates in the neighborhood. The study acknowledged, however, that noise from the Holly Plant "exceeded levels normally deemed acceptable by" the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

City Council will vote in mid-January on whether to approve a recommendation by the Electric Utility Commission to award the contract to TRC Environmental Corp.

Check out the tour KUT News took earlier this year of the empty Holly Street Power Plant.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.