Tag Archives: CPS Energy

PUC Can Move Texas Clean Jobs Forward!

Blue Wing Solar Plant goes online in San Antonio

Sierra Club Asks Public Utility Commission to Move Solar, Smart Grid, and Clean Energy Jobs forward in Texas

Responding to an invitation to present to the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC), the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club is calling on the PUC to coordinate with other state agencies to fluidly implement new clean energy laws passed by the State Legislature.

“Texas’ coal plants will soon have increasing difficulty and significant costs complying with new health-based EPA regulations and Texas needs to plan for that future,” noted Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “It will be cheaper and healthier for Texas to retire these old coal plants.  With its rule-making, the PUC can help open up Texas markets and create jobs for Texans by encouraging new technologies such as – roof-top and utility-scale solar, demand response also known as ‘smart grid’, energy efficiency measures, and energy storage.”

The PUC workshop tomorrow — “The Cost & Impacts  of New Environmental Regulations and the Opportunity for a New, Cleaner Electrical Grid” comes on the heels of yesterday’s announcement by San Antonio’s Mayor that the city’s publicly-owned utility, CPS Energy will close Deely, its oldest and dirtiest coal plant by 2018 and replace it with a combination of energy efficiency, and traditional and renewable resources.

Reed’s presentation points to a recent report “Review of the Potential Impacts of Proposed Environmental Regulations on the ERCOT System” by Texas’ grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on the impacts of four major, new environmental regulations being implemented by EPA.  Reed contends that the report is flawed saying, “it undercounts the costs of those regulations and ignores other important EPA regulations like the new standards for ozone pollution.”

Workers at Blue Wing Solar Plant

Reed’s presentation calls on the PUC to implement severally recently enacted pieces of legislation related to distributed renewable power, energy storage and energy efficiency.  He emphasizes that the PUC must finally implement the 500 megawatt, 2015 target for non-wind renewable resources like solar power, a target established by the Legislature back in 2005.

“The 500 megawatt solar rule should be adopted by the Commissioners at their next meeting on July 8 or their time runs out,” noted Reed. “There are already some 800 megawatts of solar power waiting for clarification from the PUC that there will be a market for their power.  These are Texas jobs waiting in the wings for their word.”

Reed also called on the PUC to start an 18-month process to produce a more comprehensive report on the impact of upcoming regulations on the Texas energy market.  This process will include:

  • Public participation;
  • An Advisory Committee; and
  • A set of recommendations to the 2013 Legislature.

The PUC meeting which is open to the public is scheduled to be held tomorrow, Wednesday, June 22 between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM on the 7th Floor of the Travis Building at 1701 Congress Avenue in Austin.  The workshop will include presentations by utilities, think-tanks, energy consultants and other stakeholders.

Information about the meeting can be found at: http://www.puc.state.tx.us/agency/calendar/AppointmentDetail.aspx?ID=136 

A copy of the Sierra Club presentation can be found at: https://texasgreenreport.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/cyrus_reed_presentation_to_puc_2011-06-22.pptx

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Posted by Donna Hoffman

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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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SA2020 & CPS Plan For Clean Energy Future

San Antonio 2020
The New Energy Economy is an innovative new concept using cleaner energy resources and energy efficiency technologies to create economic opportunity in San Antonio.   Mayor Julian Castro and Doyle Beneby, CEO of CPS announced plans for bringing clean energy to San Antonio.  This occurred after years of debates between the Sierra Club and CPS–a battle that included lawsuits and compromises.  It was an amazing end to a new beginning for San Antonio.

Here are some related stories:

Mayor Julian Castro recommends a link.


At an event this afternoon at UT-San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro announced a suite of green energy projects that he said would position San Antonio as the nation’s leader in sustainable energy.

We are living in exciting times, my friends, but we must remember to stay diligent.  Given the opportunity, the “powers that be”  will take the path of least resistance.  Our job is to help them stay on the right path by being involved.  We are an integral part of the process.  Our job has just begun.
Karen Seal, Alamo Sierra Club
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San Antonio Expected to Close Coal Plant

This happened!!!

Sierra Club and Partners celebrate with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (second from right) and CPS CEO Doyle Beneby (back row, second from left)

Sierra Club and Partners Celebrate First Announced Closing of a Publicly-owned Coal Plant in Texas

San Antonio’s Deely Plant Expected to Close by 2018, Replaced by Clean, Solar Power

Monday afternoon, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is expected to announce that City Public Service’s (CPS) Deely coal-fired power plant will shut down by 2018. Additional solar power contracts for the San Antonio area will replace that dirty electricity and bring clean energy jobs to Texas. In advance of today’s expected announcement, the Sierra Club, SEED Coalition, and Public Citizen issued the following statement.

“Sierra Club and our partners extend our appreciation to Mayor Julian Castro and City Public Service CEO Doyle Beneby for their vision and leadership,” said Loretta Van Coppenolle with the Alamo Group of the Sierra Club.  “The people of San Antonio will reap the benefits of their decision to create a future with cleaner air and healthier lives.  Closing Deely coal plant and transitioning to a clean energy economy will be a tremendous benefit for San Antonio. ”


The announcements today confirm the new direction taken by CPS Energy which 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.


“The new leadership at CPS Energy, the Mayor and the residents of San Antonio deserve credit for rejecting the initial love affair with the proposed nuclear plant, and instead embracing an alternative vision — more wind and solar power, a significant investment in energy efficiency, cutting-edge building codes, and the retirement of Deely.  We hope they can phase out Deely even before 2018,” said Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.  “Loretta Van Coppenolle played a powerful leadership role over many years of negotiations and considers that the deal might not have been struck with out the support and participation of the Alamo Sierra Club.”

Charles English and the Jefferson Heights Association of neighbors living near the coal plant, Cindy Wheeler and the activists of Energia Mia, Karen Hadden with the SEED Coalition (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development), and Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith with Public Citizen also played instrumental roles with Van Coppenolle and the Alamo Sierra Club, Reed, and Neil Carman, .

Environmental groups do not support the west Texas Summit coal plant that could be part of San Antonio’s plan.

“Any purchase of coal power from the proposed Summit coal plant should be conditional upon phasing out Deely,” said Ryan Rittenhouse.  “Furthermore, CPS should commit to running Deely’s two dirty coal boilers as little as possible leading up to the phase out.”

The CPS Deely plant is the first publically-owned coal plant slated for retirement in Texas.

Sierra Club has called for phasing out the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Fayette coal plant, which is partially-owned by the City of Austin. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign has also called for the phase-out of several privately owned coal plants:  TXU-Luminant’s Big Brown coal plant in Fairfield, the Martin Lake coal plant near Henderson , and the Monticello coal plant near Mount Pleasant.  Several recently permitted coal plants in Texas have been prevented from starting, and three, White Stallion, Las Brisas, and Tenaska face additional obstacles.

“San Antonio’s decision to phase out the Deely coal plant signals the beginning of the end of the coal-burning era and its associated air pollution and illness in Texas,” said Eva Hernandez, with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.  “We are ready for Austin to follow suit and for other municipal utilities, the electric co-ops, retail electric utilities, and indeed the State of Texas to move forward with our clean energy economy.  This is the way we will create more jobs while breathing cleaner air in Texas.”

 Contact:  Eva Hernandez, 512-299-1550

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Posted by Donna Hoffman


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Utility Commission agrees to publish rule requiring 500 MWs of Solar, Biomass and Geothermal

Five years after the Texas Legislature passed a Renewable Portfolio Standard that included a target to get 500 MWs of renewable energy from sources other than wind, the Public Utility Commission today finally agreed to publish a rule that would require this provision of Texas’s RPS to be implemented. While the action today is only an agreement to publish for public comment – and not to actually adopt the rule — Commissioner Ken Anderson said he would be deciding whether to support the rule based upon comments received and also whether or not the Texas Legislature takes any action on its own to either modify or expand the 500 MW rule.

Under the proposed rule, Texas retail electric providers would be required to get a small percentage of their electricity — or purchase Renewable Energy Credits from another source — from solar, geothermal and biomass. However, the proposed rule does not begin to require any investments until 2014, with the goal for meeting 500 MWs not being required until 2018.

Juwi Solar Plant, San Antonio

With one solar power plant of 14 MWs recently opened by CPS Energy, and some 150 MWs more of planned solar in 2011, the delay seems inappropriate. The Public Comment period is expected to begin in early 2011. Look here for how to participate in ensuring a clean energy future.

For more information on the rule, please visit

This PUC webpage on the proposed rule.

Here is a great blog from Colin Meehan on EDF

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New Solar Plant Unveiled in San Antonio – PUC to propose new rule to boost renewables in December

Attendees at the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association annual meeting in San Antonio this week got a double dose of good news. First, in a ribbon cutting ceremony with CPS Energy and local politicians, Colorado-based Juwi Solar opened up the 14 MW thin-film utility-scale “Blue Wing” solar plant just south of San Antonio. Secondly, Chairman Barry Smitherman with the Public Utility Commission announced in response to a question that the PUC still intended to publish a rule to finally implement the target to obtain 500 megawatts of renewable energy from sources other than wind by 2015. Indeed a note on the PUC website has confirmed that a proposal to publish a rule will be considered at the December 16th PUC meeting.

CPS Energy contracted the Blue Wing Solar plant back in June of 2009 to Juwi, which after construction and months of testing, threw the switch on providing enough electricity to power 1900 homes in San Antonio through 4290 thin-film solar arrays, each with 50 solar modules over 112 acres of farmland. That’s 215,000 photovoltaic panels in all. In addition, the solar farm includes 500 kilowatts of demonstration technologies — a concentrated solar array, various thin-film technologies as well as more traditional PV crystalline solar modules. CPS Energy and Juwi will thus have a live laboratory of other solar technologies to assess over the coming years.

The San Antonio plant is only one of six utility-scale plants being planned for construction in Texas. Thus, CPS Energy is also contracted with SunEdison for 30 MWs of solar in the San Antonio area, while Austin Energy is contracted with a private company to build 30 MWs of solar east of Austin in Webberville. A new company, RRE Austin Solar has plans to build two 60 MW solar PV plants in Pflugerville and Big Spring.

All of these plants are being built without an active market for solar renewable energy credits through Texas’s Renewable Portfolio Standard largely because they involve public entities — like CPS Energy, Austin Energy and the Pflugerville ISD — that want to invest in solar energy to meet their own goals. To really spur the solar market, implementing the Legislature’s law that Texas should have at least 500 MWs of solar, and other non-wind technologies by 2105 is a must.

During the TREIA conference, Smitherman said that as long as he could get one of his fellow commissioners — Commissioner Anderson — to propose a reasonable rule, he would support publishing it for further comment in December. That being said, actually turning the proposal into the rule in Texas will either take the PUC actually adopting it before June of 2011, or the Texas Legislature passing any additional renewable goals during the 2011 Legislative Session. Stay tuned for more on this issue.

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San Antonio holds another Solar Tour

From breweries, to outdoor cafes, to homes, to churches, San Antonio put on its charm last Saturday, holding its annual Solar Tour and bringing together over 25 homes and businesses with SOLAR in Bexar County to help educate people about the benefits of solar energy. Hundreds of Central Texas residents saw how local solar policy in San Antonio is helping to build a solar economy in the Alamo City. Residential solar rebates from CPS Energy, a new Feed-in-Tariff for commercial applications and even low-interest loans from local credit unions and banks. The tour was sponsored and organized by Solar San Antonio, one of the best non-profits around.

Here is one example — a beautiful home in North San Antonio with a 9 kw solar panel installed by Meridian. Some months of the year, the home doesn’t even have to pay an electric bill.

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