Austin Energy: Green-ish

Blue Wing Solar (photo 2 of 3)

Image by Duke Energy via Flickr

Yesterday, the Alamo city dealt a serious blow to Austin’s somewhat greenish reputation. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro announced that City Public Service’s (CPS) Deely coal-fired power plant will shut down by 2018, and solar power contracts for the San Antonio area will replace the dirty energy and bring clean energy jobs.

CPS Energy has committed to meeting 20% of its energy needs through renewable energy by 2020, and reducing its peak demand through energy efficiency by 780 megawatts. CPS Energy recently began receiving power from a 14 MW solar plant in South San Antonio, and has signed a contract with SunEdison for an additional 30 MWs of solar power.

This is the first coal plant retirement in a state that leads the nation in greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first coal plant retirement in a state that dedicates almost half (47.8%) of all of its water withdrawal goes to thermoelectric plants.

To quote Biden, this is a big… deal. You know.

Meanwhile, the city of Austin continues to get its power from the Fayette coal plant in Fayette county, notwithstanding the fact that the plant has caused $200-300 million in health injury costs just in 2005 (According to the National Research Council’s 2009 Report, “The Hidden Costs of Energy”) and destroyed the livelihood of local pecan farmers. Go local, indeed.

The city of Austin is taking its sweet time on the Austin Energy Resource Generation and Climate Protection Plan, which was developed to “make Austin Energy the leading utility in the nation for greenhouse gas reductions” and meet certain clean energy goals, including 30% renewable energy by 2020 and at least 700 megawatts of energy efficiency measures.

The plan requires three studies with an expected completion date in 2012, including 1) exploring the possibility for phasing out the Fayette coal plant by 2020 2) increasing the energy efficiency goal from 800 megawatts to a possible 1000 megawatts 3) setting an onsite renewable goal for Austin (distributed solar).

There are six months left in the year 2011. The expected completion date for these studies is in 2012.  The city is focused on the rate case this fall, where the costs of installing half a billion dollar pollution control equipment on the Fayette coal plant (scrubbers) will no doubt be passed on to ratepayers. Apparently, we have to pay the coal plant not to contaminate our seafood with mercury.

Concerned? The Austin Sierra Club group meets every second Tuesday of the month at Scholtz’s garden at 6pm.

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3 responses to “Austin Energy: Green-ish

  1. Great read…what a great way to see a huge city like San Antonio start to convert to renewable energy. I wish people here would get motivated about Virginia renewable energy and Virginia alternative energy. Great step in the right direction for Texas once again where they do things big.

  2. First, Austin harnesses wind, and now San Antonio taps into solar. This is the kind of competition we all need!

  3. Pingback: Texas Climate News | Dispatches from the front(s): Texas’ multifaceted coal war rumbles on

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