CPS Must Not Put All Our Eggs
in the Coal Basket
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
December 23, 2004

As many of you know, I have been and remain an enthusiastic supporter of CPS.  CPS generates some of the cheapest energy in the country.  It compensates its employees like few other entities public or private.  It has wonderful leadership.

However, this community cannot stand by and allow good to be the enemy of great!  The CPS-sponsored study by KEMA, Inc. demonstrates that a new coal plant proposed for San Antonio is unnecessary at this time because conservation measures save more energy than the proposed coal plant will generate.  While the new plant would provide 750 megawatts of electricity, the CPS's own KEMA study demonstrates that the resultant energy saved from efficiency measures could be 1,220 megawatts!  Efficiency is not only pure, clean energy, in this instance, it is nearly twice the energy expected from a new, billion dollar coal plant!

As for the coal plant and conservation or efficiency, either one of these approaches to where we get our energy will take time.  The comparative cost of efficiency and conservation as well as implementation of renewables relative to this coal plant is far cheaper.  The comparative pollution is none versus some!

As just one example of what can be done in the area of conservation and renewables, Bexar County has embarked on a preliminary energy conservation program.  For starters, we adopted our first-ever Energy Plan.  Then, with just seven projects in only two of its many buildings, we project that the net savings from the State's largest solar hot water heater for our Jail Annex and a number of energy efficiency projects will be $196,884 annually.  This will be a cumulative total savings of more than $1 million over a ten year period.  And we've only and humbly, just begun!

Just think of what would happen if the government, private sector and our citizens would follow suit!

What I have observed locally is that most businesses and governments including Bexar County are not adequately pursuing efficiency and conservation.  This is precisely where CPS could be demonstrating its leadership, beginning with the major energy consumers.  Unfortunately, the current condition in our CPS energy-supplied community is that if you want to save energy dollars, you must do it yourself without expectation of much encouragement or assistance with expertise from CPS.

On June 30, 2003, CPS stated that its mission is to provide affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy resources for the citizens of San Antonio.  So far, they have provided affordable and reliable energy.  The operative phrase is "so far".  The ending of the era of cheap energy is well-documented and future reliability and even economy depends on visionary and gutsy decisions to diversify our sources of energy!

With respect to environmentally responsible energy, CPS is committing to cleaning up its sources of pollution.  What could be more responsible than making a serious effort to prevent pollution by aggressively integrating conservation and efficiency into its energy sources?  I wish the excitement with which CPS cleans up its coal plants with hundreds of millions of dollars were matched by its excitement over the integration of conservation and yes, renewables into its energy sources.

Also, on June 30, 2003, CPS set an aggressive goal of meeting 10 percent of its demand with renewables by 2015!  For this commitment, CPS rightly deserves credit for having the most renewable renewable wind power in Texas!  CPS is doing this not just because this is the right thing to do, it saves money that would be otherwise spent on fuel!  But it can and should do more.

Pursuing energy efficiency is the logical place to start providing more energy and saving ratepayers money!

Finally, just because conservation and renewables reduces energy sales does not mean that their implementation must reduce revenue to CPS.  We can and should explore the fee structure to insure that CPS maintains its financial viability to the City of San Antonio.  Demonstrate clearly and convincingly the need for the energy, but for now, proceed immediately with increasing our community's energy efficiency and use of renewables!

<< Return to Writings