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CPS Against the Wind?

CPS makes a lot of hay about their wind energy consumption. The most renewable wind energy this side of the deregulated market, we hear.

But when it comes to cranking up the pace of solar and wind energy development in Texas, CPS has to draw the line somewhere, it appears.

Last night the Alamo chapter of the state Sierra Club hosted a panel of sustainable energy experts (including CPS's lonliest department, the single-employee sustainability program staffer/director/manager/slave) at the Witte Museum. It appeared the conservation group dedicated to "knocking on windows," as current A-SC jefe Jerry Morrisey said, was trying to build bridges.

Expect some buckling in that construction project: It appears the City-owned utility has not only joined the pro-nuke lobbying group Nuclear Energy for Texans, but is now working against proposals to increase solar and wind development in Texas.

Environment Texas sent out a media cherry bomb this morning, including a video of two CPS attorneys encouraging the Texas Public Utility Commissioners (*to the bewilderment of the commissioners themselves*) not to move too quickly laying down new high-capacity transmission lines to that wild and wonderful waste of open range known as West Texas.

ET writes:

A new video released today by an environmental advocacy group documents that San Antonio utility CPS Energy is aligned with Exxon, coal companies and other big polluters to actively fight efforts to build an extensive network of transmission lines to link wind farms to Texas homes.

 

"You'd expect Exxon and the coal industry to block wind power, but CPS's role in blocking an ambitious plan to expand wind power in the state is truly disappointing," said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger.

 

At issue is an upcoming decision by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas which will play a critical role in determining how much renewable energy is built in Texas in coming years. Environmental, economic development and public interest advocates, wind energy companies, more than 100 west Texas communities, and the San Antonio Express News have called for the most ambitious plan which would create transmission capacity for almost an additional 18,000 megawatts of wind and solar power. By displacing some coal-fired electricity generation, such a plan would reduce smog pollution from power plants by 13% and global warming pollution by 16%. It would also save consumers money, as expensive natural gas would be somewhat displaced by cheaper wind power, lowering the overall wholesale cost of electricity.

 

"CPS likes to brag about its investments in wind, but most of its money comes from burning dirty coal," said Metzger. "Rather than support a forward-looking plan to reduce pollution and reduce the cost of energy, CPS is teaming up with other big polluters to stall Texas' leadership in wind power."




I did my journalistic duty and emailed the vid to two of CPS's icily polite mouthpeices this morning. Still, no response.

[Update, 6/19] Received emailed response from CPS spokesperson Bob McCullough:

CPS Energy strongly supports wind power as part of our successful fuels diversification program that enables us to produce electricity using a variety of fuel sources.  In fact, we rank no. 1 by a substantial margin in the amount of wind energy capacity among the nation’s municipally owned utilities.  We do recognize the need for more transmission lines to bring wind energy from remote areas of the state to urban areas such as San Antonio.  We favor a phased approach in expanding transmission that will permit the Public Utility Commission of Texas to resolve any reliability concerns about the effects of adding more wind energy to the ERCOT interconnected electric grid.

Posted by Greg Harman on 6/18/2008
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