Makhijani, San Antonio discuss energy efficiency

On Monday, various people including representatives from City Public Services, various county commissioners including Tommy Adkisson, commissioner candidate Chip Haass, Laurence Doxsey of HUD , Bill Sinkin of Solar San Antonio, and representatives from the Mayor Phil Hardberger’s office gathered to discuss energy efficiency with the Citizen’s Energy Coalition, SEED Coalition and the Alamo Group of the Sierra Club.

Arjun Makhijani, head of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, presented his preliminary findings on energy efficiency potential for San Antonio. I enjoyed the dialogue that came out of his speech. From most people I heard that Dr. Makhijani’s speech hit the right note of pushing CPS to do more while simultaneously congratulating them for their current energy efficiency and renewable goals.

The mayor’s office asked a hard hitting question on why Makhijani believed that San Antonio could reach 1000 MW of efficiency while KEMA only said we could reach 771 MW. Makhijani said the difference between the studies is that he accounted for strong city leadership and CPS support. He pointed to San Antonio’s success with reducing our water consumption in the past ten years. San Antonio has dealt with similar issues before and has risen to the challenge.

Russell Seal of the Sierra Club pointed out that despite the drought this summer we have aquifer levels that are sustainable. This discussion of energy efficiency fell naturally into a discussion of nuclear energy for Dr. Makhijani. He said that “The shift from nuclear to efficiency and solar could save the city as much as $3 billion.” He proclaimed that if we as a city can cut down our energy use that we would not need to spend $16 billion for a new nuclear power plant.

San Antonio has been considering buying into a proposed nuclear plant in Bay City. Russell Seal added, “Unless we are deciding to kill the plant it is totally insane for San Antonio to decide whether to build a nuclear plant until we know who is going to be elected president.” This comment was based in the fact that without large federal subsidies nuclear plants would not be built. With a regime change in Washington utility companies may no longer have this funding.

With a regime change in Washington, utility companies may no longer have this funding. A comment on Anton Caputo’s article in the Express-News said that “Every little bit helps, but major increases in power are needed to satisfy the increase in population, which is the root cause of global pollutions.” This comment missed the whole point of Makhijani’s speech which is with energy efficiency and renewables that San Antonio can meet its energy needs. Concerns like an expanding population, industry growth were taken into account in this study. For all who attended thank you for coming.

-Melissa K. Seal