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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Friday, November 17, 2017 by Jo Clifton
Fath retiring from Electric Utility Commission
After 40 years of fighting for consumers and small businesses on Austin’s Electric Utility Commission, Shudde Fath this week announced her resignation.
Fath, who is often referred to as the grande dame of Austin’s environmental movement, is 101 years old and was first appointed by Mayor Carole Keeton McClellan in 1977.
In a letter to the Office of the City Clerk and City Council Member Delia Garza, who had joined a long line of Council members who have appointed her, Fath said that because she suffered a mini-stroke in August and is still recovering, she has missed the last three monthly commission meetings. “After much deliberation, I have decided that I am not strong enough to continue serving, so am resigning with much regret,” she wrote.
Garza told the Austin Monitor via email, “I greatly admire strong women who lead by example and Shudde Fath is a shining one – spending her entire life standing up and advocating for people who haven’t had a voice. Shudde is a trailblazer who has taken on leadership roles when women didn’t or couldn’t. Nevertheless, she persisted and with determined commitment, Shudde has also fought to protect our natural resources especially the natural assets of Barton Creek, Barton Springs, and the Edwards Aquifer. Her resignation from the Electric Utility Commission is a great loss for the EUC and the community and we thank Shudde for her service.”
In her letter of resignation, Fath wrote, “In my opinion Austin Energy is Austinites’ most valuable asset. I believe AE is a well-run organization, and I believe in the ‘review, analyze, and advise’ role of the EUC.”
She also extended a special thanks to “AE staffers Toye Goodson-Collins and Jeff Vice, who have served the EUC so efficiently and who also have given me so much extra help. I have accumulated more than 101 years of a greatly appreciated life.” She also thanked all the Council members who served between McClellan and Garza who supported her many years of reappointments.
Goodson-Collins said Fath had notified Austin Energy staff via fax. “When we got her fax on Tuesday morning, it was such a somber atmosphere on the fifth floor (of the Austin Energy building). Everybody was pretty quiet, trying to imagine what it would be like to attend an EUC meeting without Shudde. I thought it was pretty remarkable of her – she’s nearly 102 years old and (saying she) just decided to slow down a little bit. We should only be so lucky.”
As the Austin Monitor noted on Tuesday, Fath and her daughter, Betsy Fath Hiller, have published an entertaining new book of color photographs by renowned photographer Russell Lee, called “Russell Lee in Color.”
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin Energy: As a municipally-owned electric utility, Austin Energy is a rarity in the largely deregulated State of Texas. It's annual budget clocks in at over $1 billion. The utility's annual direct transfer of a Council-determined percentage of its revenues offers the city a notable revenue stream.
Electric Utility Commission: The advisory body charged with oversight of Austin Energy, the City of Austin's municipally-owned electric utility.
Shudde Fath: Activist Shudde Fath has been engaged with city politics since the 1970s and has served on the Electric Utility Commission since its inception as a consumer advocate.