bowties savaging utility plans?


Find the solar bowtie. ID the 9 imposters and get a free prize.*

Lo and behold, the sun is truly breaking on San Antonio. Thanks in large part to the man we celebrated at his 95th bday this week, Mr. Bill Sinkin. You can find him above explaining plans for a new solar bowtie to SA Editor Bob Rivard. (And why not? We showed off Japanese designs last week for a solar-powered bra.)

After months of raucous tussling with the city and its utility, CPS Energy, into which the daily paper dared not creep until these last couple weeks as the tide has unavoidably turned to renewable solutions, obvious cracks continue to expose the errors in the utility’s nuclear logic.

You may want to sit down now. From the pen of X-News biz columnist David Hendricks:

As CPS Energy contemplates becoming a partner in adding two units to the South Texas Project nuclear plant, alternative energy advocates point out that nuclear construction costs are rising but solar energy costs are falling.

If that trend holds, what happens if CPS commits to expand nuclear capacity by 2016 or ’17, but too much of its customer base switches off for cheaper on-site renewable energy?

Who would finish paying the nuclear construction bonds? The utility’s owners could end up in financial straits. As a municipal utility, CPS’ owners are San Antonio’s taxpayers.

California’s SUNRGI — pronounced sun-ergy — has announced plans to begin selling solar units next year that can produce electricity at 5 cents per kilowatt-hour wholesale.

A nickel per kilowatt-hour is about the same as it costs to produce power from coal.

A nickel is what utilities would pay if they purchased electricity from an independent power source using large-scale solar panels from SUNRGI. With transmission costs and profit margins of 2 cents or so, the cost matches fossil-fuel electricity rates …

That puts pressure on utilities like CPS, which must plan eight to 10 years in advance. Those that commit their customers to paying billions of dollars through higher rates for nuclear construction could find those plants stranded financially if customers go solar.

* In the event of an actual winner, ties may be withheld due to height, societal distortion, or radial ocular complexities yet to be determined.

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