CPS Proposal Poses Challenges, Opportunities
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
July 10, 2003

Probably no community more that East Bexar County or Precinct Four have a larger stake in the proposal being made by the City Public Service Board for another new coal-fired power plant.  Fewer communities would appear to have more employees of CPS living in them.  No community hosts more power facilities than East Bexar County or Precinct Four. 

It is this whole idea of hosting CPS that is a point of concern for all of us.  First of all, the sorest of sore subjects historically is the exemption from taxation of the land on which Braunig and Calaveras Lakes are located.  In effect electricity for the entire community is largely generated on the backs of the East Central ISD and its taxpayers.  Additionally, state law prohibits payments from CPS to East Central ISD in lieu of taxes. 

In conjunction with the tax dimension of power plant hosting is the environmental dimension in the form of the pollutants generated by power plants.  Both those living in the shadow of the power plants as well as those impacted miles away have an interest in CPS doing the right thing environmentally.  CPS is committed to addressing this concern in an aggressive manner.

Part of the ramp-up to the decision by CPS was to organize the Southeast Quadrant Community Advisory Committee.  This group of local citizens had about 13 meetings every two weeks from October of 2002 through May 13, 2003.  Twenty-two members recommended certain considerations for CPS in the event that CPS would decide to build another coal plant.  So far, the Committee has recommended air quality monitoring and best available control technology (BACT) promulgated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

It further recommended that CPS exceed local, state and federal standards in the operation of the plant, that CPS conduct an independent review of its environmental performance, continue meeting quarterly as an Advisory Committee and take the information to the public.  Six meetings with the public will be held for anyone wanting to attend, listen and/or be heard.  In all, there are a total of twenty-two pages of recommendations from the Committee!

Of importance to our future, CPS will strive to at least double its current 160 megawatts of renewable capacity in the next ten years.  CPS is setting an aggressive and ambitions goal of meeting 10 percent of its demand with renewables by 2015, an unparalleled goal in Texas!  To add extra umph to this commitment, Mr. Milton Lee, the CPS General Manager has told his staff that their incentive pay is tied to the success of this renewables program!

On a personal note, some of you might have seen the coverage of the fire behind my law office that occurred Monday at around 3:00 a.m. in the morning.  Although the good news is that the law office is unscathed, the lack of electricity shut down phones, air conditioners and the almighty computer without which progress in any business is impossible.  Doing without power really drives home the very subject I am writing about---how we guarantee sufficient energy to supply your and my every day needs.

The story of our power generation, its challenges and opportunities affects the freedom we have come to enjoy.  The CPS process awaits your participation and input.  Please stay tuned and be heard!

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