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Don't flip that switch!

By Greg Harman
gharman@sacurrent.com

This is the week my second major story on CPS hit the street. When I took them on a year ago the challenge was tied to climate security concerns: The promises of decentralization and pitfalls of nuke overlooks. My split with CPS Energy plans was based on economic argument and generation-scale health and safety issues.

Up In Smoke/Hot Wired, this week's follow-up, has nothing to do with coal-versus-nukes-versus-solar or anything to do with big plants with long wires as opposed to increasing opportunities for on-site power generation (though I still strongly advocate for the later). It simply chronicles the widespread failure of management to run a safe, humane workplace.

It has been hard to gauge the most troubling practices that leaked their way to my ears. Some of the information I received (including the utility-wide survey) has been available to the San Antonio City Council for months. The rest of it Councilmembers could have found by simply checking in with workers and asking some not necessarily consistently intelligible questions, as many would suggest I did.

That's one of my personal concerns. Since, it appears City leaders (apart from, perhaps,  Councilmember Philip Cortez who sought to make a media field day of his "investigation" into conditions at the utility) have chosen to do neither.It's unclear whether they were actively trying to protect their money-maker CPS or if they could have been responding to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who reported recently that negotiations on several of their differences may be getting addressed by CPS's lawyers and Veeps.

This will surely clear up in the coming weeks as long as San Antonio residents push for the  information.

One item I haven't been able to confirm from the road as I travel across the state is if CPS has agreed to hire on more contract meter readers. That would be nice. However, I would much rather know how they are going to address the incredibly sorry shape of our grid security. These gaping "blind spots" that have opened up due to poor transitional changes in the mapping department not only make linemen and crew members more vulnerable, but jeopardize the security of San Antonio's business and residential communities.

It'd be on my mind if I were, say, U.S. Homeland Security busily scouting the town out for proposed massive federal germ lab. And it'd be on my mind if I were a San Antonian worried about U.S. Homeland Security busily scouting the town out for a massive federal germ lab (as they are, btw).

On the subject of bioterror and Homeland, you may want to attend Thursday's hearing on the topic, as Queque suggests.

Those of you who read this blog already know how I feel about it.

Posted by gharman on 8/6/2008 3:38:52 PM
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