Posts Tagged ‘CPS Energy’

Wednesday, CPS Energy of San Antonio announced that they are writing off the nearly $400 million already spent to develop two new proposed South Texas Project nuclear reactor units.

south-texas1.jpg“The NRC can license these reactors, but they won’t get built,” said Karen Hadden of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. “Renewable energy is cheaper these days and much safer. Nuclear power creates radioactive waste that remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years.”

“CPS’ decision shows that proposed nuclear reactors are worthless. There’s no market for their rate raising, high-cost, high-risk power,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen’s Texas office.  “The proposed reactor price tag rose from $5.9 billion to $18.2 billion, even before a license was ever issued.  Delays, construction problems and lawsuits are the norm for nuclear reactors. They cost so much that even with all the federal subsidies, no bank will loan money to build them. CPS did the smart thing and wrote off this worthless investment”

You can read about this fiscal decision on their blog by clicking here. You can read the excerpt regarding the financial write-off from the post below:

In FY 2015-16, we also made the decision to financially write-off our investment in the proposed South Texas Project Units 3 & 4. The decision to write-off the investment should be seen solely as an “accounting decision.” CPS Energy will retain a legal interest in the project, which aligns to our perspective that   nuclear is a significant part of our local and the broader national energy portfolio and will continue to be an important, carbon free and economic fuel type, as well as a good alternative to help counter volatile fuel prices.

We continue to argue that, for a variety of reasons – stated briefly above, nuclear energy should not be considered the future of the nation’s broader energy portfolio. CPS’s financial decision is one such indicator, in spite of the caveat in their statement.

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SAN ANTONIO – The newly formed Re-Energize San Antonio Coalition called on CPS Energy to meet a set of conditions before following through with an October rate hike.

Describing the hike as an increase that will “unfairly burden residential taxpayers,” coalition members called on CPS to take steps to reduce pollution, waste and costs for consumers.

The coalition presented its demands in a petition handed off to the utility during the Monday, Sept. 9 CPS Rate Case Input Session held at the TriPoint Grantham Center.

“We oppose the rate hike because it promotes unsustainable growth, driven by dirty energy, on the shoulders of the poor and working class folks who already pay the most for energy costs relative to income and quality of housing stock,” said Dr. Marisol Cortez, scholar-in-residence at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center.

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The newly formed Re-Energize San Antonio Coalition put its opposition to CPS’s proposed rate hike on the record during a Sept. 9 citizen’s input meeting. Coalition representatives presented the utility with a plan of action that they want addressed before an increase goes into effect. Here’s the petition.


Submitted to CPS Energy during the CPS Rate Case Input Session, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013.

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While Austin City Council continues to move forward with an ordinance to transfer governing authority of Austin Energy from our elected City Council to an unelected board, Austin democracy is being attacked at in the state legislature as well.  Senate bill 410, sponsored by Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Paul Workman, would allow the city to establish an unelected board without a charter election, as our city charter calls for.

The issue of who should govern Austin Energy is important, but it’s also local in nature.  There is no need for state to amend Austin’s charter.  That is a right reserved for the citizens of Austin.  If the changes proposed by City Council are truly in the best interest of our city, that case should be made to the voters and decided upon at the ballot box. 

To have a state representative who doesn’t even live in Austin carrying a bill to change our charter is unacceptable.

The Austin City Charter was adopted by the people of Austin and the people of Austin approved a governance structure for Austin Energy that is accountable to the people through elections.

An unelected board won’t be directly accountable to the ratepayers and wouldn’t necessarily represent our values.  As we debate this issue in Austin the unelected board at San Antonio’s CPS Energy is slashing the rate customers with solar installations will receive for their energy in half without first consulting the public or the solar industry.  Austin Energy customers could be facing similar changes if we don’t act now to protect our rights.

SB 410 has passed the Senate and will be heard by the House Committee on State Affairs tomorrow.

Please consider attending the hearing and speaking against SB 410.

What: Hearing on SB 410 to change Austin’s charter to move Austin Energy governance to an undemocratic board without a vote by the citizens of Austin, as our charter requires.

When: 1:00pm on Wednesday, May 1

Where: John H. Reagan (JHR) building, room 140 – 105 W. 15th St., Austin, TX, 78701

Why: Because Austin Energy’s governance structure will impact decisions going forward, including on renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and rates.  This is the decision that will determine how other decisions are made.

You can register against the bill at the kiosks outside of room 140.  Even if you don’t wish to speak, registering against the bill would be helpful.  We hope you’ll consider saying a few words about the value of local democracy though.  Speakers will be limited to 3 minutes each.

SB 410 is anti-democratic and is one more example of the state government trying to interfere with Austin’s internal policies and governance.

We need your help to stop this bill.

Public opposition to SB 410 at Wednesday’s hearing may be the only thing that can ensure that our Austin representatives don’t let this bad bill move forward.

Please email Kaiba White at kwhite (at) citizen.org if you can attend the hearing at 1:00pm on Wednesday.

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If you weren’t already convinced that Austin would be misguided to hand over governance and oversight of our municipal electric utility, Austin Energy, to an unelected board, CPS Energy’s unelected board just provided a great example of what we can expect under such a regime.

CPS Energy on Tuesday proposed cutting the amount it pays for solar power generated from residential customers roughly in half, angering clean-energy activists and system installers who say the cuts would cripple the local solar industry.

“There was zero consultation with the solar industry in the development of this proposal,” said Lanny Sinkin, executive director of the advocacy group Solar San Antonio, who was made aware of the plan Monday night. “They’re going to kill the solar industry.”

Read the rest of the story on MySanAntonio.com.

Two important things to note:

  1. This is a bad, anti-environmental, anti-consumer policy change.
  2. No public input was sought prior to announcing this very significant change to CPS policy.

In Austin, we have come to expect that the public will be consulted on changes to our community.  An unelected board doesn’t fear political blow-back and will therefore be beholden not to the ratepayers (that’s you and me), but to special interests.  I don’t know who was behind this proposal at CPS, but it wasn’t the people of San Antonio.

Please, stop by City Hall and register against item #11 on today’s City Council agenda.  If you have time to say a few words on behalf of democracy, arrive by 4pm if you can.  Council doesn’t always run on time though, so even if you can’t get there until 5:00 or after, you might still get a chance to speak.

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Don't blame the windCheck out Public Citizen’s Texas director’s, Tom “Smitty” Smith, response to CPS Energy CEO Doyle  Beneby‘s op-ed in the San Antonio Express last week that blamed Texas wind power plants for creating problems by producing such cheap power that it made it hard to build new gas plants or profitably operate those we have.

Click here to read “Don’t blame wind energy for lack of new power plants”

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Yesterday, Clean Energy Works for Texas – a coalition consisting of Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance, Progress Texas, Clean Water Action, Environment Texas, North Texas Renewable Energy Group, North Texas Renewable Energy Inc., SEED Coalition, Solar Austin, Solar San Antonio, Texas Campaign for the Environment and  Texas Pecan Alliance – filed a petition with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) asking for a rule-making to implement the non-wind renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

A law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2005 established that at least 500 megawatts (MW) of the electricity used in Texas would come from renewable energy sources other than wind by 2015.  The PUC, however, has failed to establish rules to ensure that this goal is reached.  Clean Energy Works for Texas calls on the PUC to fulfill its statutory duty and create rules to ensure that the goal is reached.  The petition also proposes and expansion of that goal to 3,000 MW by 2025.

The non-wind RPS would provide a level of certainty for investors considering Texas for clean energy projects.  While the wind industry has thrived in Texas, thanks, at least in part, to the RPS, other renewable energy industries have lagged behind.  Implementation of the non-wind RPS would send a signal to investors that Texas is open for business.   At at time when nearly a million Texans are looking for work, developing 21st century industries here in Texas should be a priority.

Texas has immense solar resources, as well as substantial geothermal resources that, if developed, could be providing the State with additional electricity that it needs.  Electricity market regulators and policy-makers have had numerous discussions about electricity generation shortages over the past year.  The petition filed by Clean Energy Works for Texas offers a solution – and it’s one that can be expanded upon in the coming years.

Please visit www.CleanEnergyWorksForTexas.org to learn more and send an email to to the PUC in support of the non-wind RPS.

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CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal utility, has announced plans to shut its two-unit, 871-megawatt JT Deely coal station down by 2018. The utility estimates this move could save as much as $3 billion in environmental upgrades needed for these aging coal-fired units to comply with pending federal regulations.

CPS Energy is the nation’s largest city-owned utility and supplies both natural gas and electricity to the nearly 1.4 million residents of 9th largest city in the US.  San Antonio is on a path to reduce its reliance on fossil-fueled generation and boost its use of renewable resources, such as wind and solar power, to 20 percent, or 1,500 megawatts, by 2020.

Stricter regulations being formulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce air and water pollution as well as to control coal waste are expected to force retirement of between 30,000 and 70,000 megawatts of coal generation in the next few years, according to industry studies and San Antonio’s efforts to get ahead of these regulations is pushing them to the forefront of a new energy future here in Texas.

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San Antonio’s electric utility, CPS, has halted their negotiations on a power purchase agreement between CPS and STP’s expansion units 3 and 4.  CPS’s CEO, Doyle Beneby, announced that CPS and NRG have mutually agreed to terminate their PPA negotiations at this point. 

It would appear that the issues facing NRG’s Japanese partners (including Tepco, the beleaguered owners of the doomed Fukushima nuclear plant) are giving everyone pause in their relentless pursuit of the STP expansion.

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So now San Antonio is sitting back watching with a knowing eye as NRG/Toshiba (formally know together as NINA) approaches the City of Austin with the hope that Austin hasn’t been paying attention to what they put San Antonio through just a year ago.

Greg Harman of the San Antonio Current provides an update to his readers:

Though the nuclear discussion in city circles has cooled dramatically since CPS Energy extracted itself from a 50-percent share in the proposed doubling of the South Texas Project nuclear complex down to a mere 7 percent, the project’s key boosters have continued scrambling to make the project as attractive as possible to the U.S. Department of Energy and — more recently — the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. To pretty-up the massively expensive project (in the course of the local debate, it shot from around $8 billion to $18 billion), NRG and Toshiba have rounded back on Austin, hoping to win a change of heart from a newer mayor and council. Years back, the city, a 16-percent partner in STP’s Units 1 and 2, voted not to partner on the expansion, citing concerns for both likely cost overruns (how prescient) and the troubling question of how to dispose of the high-level radioactive waste that is left behind.

Click here to read the whole blog post.

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Doyle Beneby, CPS CEO and President

Doyle Beneby, CPS CEO and President

Solar Austin is hosting a special event featuring the CEO of San Antonio’s municipal utility, Doyle Beneby of CPS.

Mr. Beneby will discuss CPS Energy’s plan to pursue affordable renewable energy. This special event will take place at Malverde (400 W. 2nd, next to City Hall) with a Reception starting at 4pm and talk from 5 to 6pm.

WHO:  CPS Energy CEO & President Doyle Beneby

WHAT:  CPS Energy: Leading San Antonio into the New Energy Economy

WHEN: Wednesday,   February 23   from 4:00 – 6:00  pm

WHERE: Malverde, 400 W. 2nd, Austin, TX (immediately NW of City Hall)

For more info: http://www.solaraustin.org/. To learn more about Doyle Beneby, click here.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Future's so brightCPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby announced that the utility will acquire an additional 50 megawatts of solar power and that the company chosen to build the new plants for it will be required to locate a portion of its business in San Antonio.  Currently the negotiations include a leading solar manufacturer to locate a small office in the area and invest in an educational center at one of the solar sites with a larger goal of having a solar company locate a manufacturing plant or perhaps an assembly plant in San Antonio.

San Antonio is trying to do locally, what the State should be doing – luring new renewable industries and jobs to Texas.  As CPS and San Antonio take the lead in fulfilling their potential as a clean energy hub, let’s hope the State takes notice and begins to follow suite.

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Seal of the United States Atomic Energy Commis...

Image via Wikipedia

 The Shaw Group is increasing its bet on nuclear power, announcing a role in the proposed 2,700-megawatt South Texas project making it the largest nuclear construction project in Shaw’s history.

Toshiba, the Japanese company, and NRG Energy Inc. jointly own Nuclear Innovation North America, which is developing the South Texas plant.

The Shaw Power Group will get the initial engineering, procurement and construction contract for the two-reactor expansion proposed at South Texas. But Shaw will be more than the contractor. It will be a partner with Toshiba in the project.

As part of its new agreement with Toshiba, Shaw has agreed to invest up to $250 million in nuclear projects. Of that, $100 million will initially be a loan guarantee for NINA for South Texas. If the project wins its combined operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that loan guarantee will be converted into an equity investment in the project.

The Shaw Power Group strategy is not without risks. There have been questions in recent months about whether the “nuclear renaissance” in the United States will actually occur. And there have been specific questions about the South Texas project, much of them through the SEED Coalition and Public Citizen interventions in the licensing process.

South Texas still on the hunt for partners

South Texas would be a merchant energy plant and they believe they are in line for federal loan guarantees. But another merchant plant, Calvert Cliffs in Maryland, ran into trouble when Constellation Energy pulled out. Constellation said the loan-guarantee conditions were too onerous and made the project financially untenable.

Every proposed nuclear expansion has come with the caveat that these projects are too expensive (and risky) to move forward without the federal loan guarantees.  Yet when the federal government tries to mitigate its own risk, the industry has protested.   

NINA has been looking for partners for the South Texas project since San Antonio’s municipal power company, CPS Energy, went from being a 50% partner to taking just a 7.6 percent ownership in the project.

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A couple of weeks ago an outage at South Texas (Nuclear) Project (STP) occurred when unit 2 automatically shutdown due to an “equipment failure”.  This outage triggered a reliability deployment of LaaRs (Load Acting as a Resource) event at ERCOT.  This shifting of load to cover an unexpected event can be quite expensive and the retail electric providers who purchase their electricity from STP will bear the brunt of that cost.

South Texas Nuclear Plant entrance from NRC.gov

One of these two reactors isn't working. And they call renewable energy unreliable!

South Texas Project has since announced it will extend its Unit 2 outage to repair a seal-housing gasket on a reactor coolant pump, which moves water through the steam generator.   The company has decided that, while the gasket’s condition is within operating criteria, STP will make the needed repairs, while they also continue to run unit 1.

A repair schedule is being finalized and restoration of the unit is projected to be completed sometime in November, but we here wonder if it won’t be even into December before it is repaired.

In the meantime, Austin Energy, which gets 27% of its energy from STP, and San Antonio’s CPS, which gets 38% of its energy from STP will be purchasing energy from other sources to make up for the loss from the STP outage.  Let’s hope we don’t have a major cold front come in before STP unit 2 is back online, or these energy companies could be looking at a lowered earnings projection for their final quarter.

This continues a banner few weeks for the nuke industry, who had to shut down Vermont Yankee because of a radioactive water leak and an unexplained transformer explosion at Indian Point 2, a reactor just 24 miles north of New York City, a known secondary target of terrorists on 9/11.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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CPS Energy in San Antonio continues to move forward with its renewable plans under Mayor Julian Castro. A major new solar announcement, just as its 14 MW solar system is getting finished, is good news indeed. San Antonio has been a leader in wind energy and now leads the state in solar, where is the leadership in the other cities and the state? They should take a long hard look in the mirror, and then go visit the new green leader, way to go San Antonio.

From the CPS web site.

CPS Energy Rising to Be National Leader in Green Power


CPS Energy’s renewable energy portfolio will increase by 30 megawatts (MW) with this week’s signing of a new 25-year purchase power agreement (PPA) with SunEdison, a global leader in delivering solar electricity. With the SunEdison agreement, CPS Energy now has 44 MW of solar generation under contract, solidifying its position as the leader in renewable energy resources among municipally owned utilities in the nation.  The contract moves CPS Energy closer to its vision of providing customers with 1,500 MW of renewable energy (wind and solar) by 2020.

“The market for solar energy continues to improve, and this agreement takes advantage of that,” said President and CEO Doyle Beneby. “In addition to more than 40 MW of solar generation, CPS Energy has rebates that incentivize the use of solar by homeowners and businesses, and a developing distributed-generation program. With 300 days of sunshine each year, it just makes sense that San Antonio becomes a hub for solar energy in the U.S.”

By fall of 2012, Maryland-based SunEdison is expected to complete installation of 120,000 single-axis tracking photovoltaic (PV) panels that will follow the sun throughout the day, generating a total of 30 MW at three locations across the CPS Energy service area. The three locations will be announced later this year, and construction is expected to begin in early 2012. The combined energy output of the three facilities is expected to be approximately 54,000 megawatt hours—enough to power about 3,700 homes.

“We are pleased to provide this long-term, renewable energy solution for our customers,” added CPS Energy Chief Sustainability Officer Cris Eugster.  “In addition to helping us meet our goal to provide 100 MW of solar generation by 2020, we’re also looking to SunEdison to be a key partner in transforming San Antonio into a national hub for solar energy.”

“SunEdison is committed to the growing Texas solar energy market, and we look forward to expanding our utility scale presence in the state in 2011,” said Carlos Domenech, President of SunEdison.  “Our development capabilities, financing power and execution track record enables municipal utilities, like CPS Energy, to benefit from economically viable solar solutions.”


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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