cps saves the day

CPS Energy had just enough cash on hand this year to pay off our city council and keep the city out of the red. The announcement came the day before the annual budgeting was to begin.

Now, I scolded the X-News for failing (along with rest of SA media) to follow up on any of the many unflattering revelations about CPS operations contained in my recent Hot Wired story. Posted my thoughts right on their site. To their credit, they haven’t pulled the comment yet.

Of course, I don’t have the whole story. That’s still assembling bit by painful bit.

I wrote:

gosh, how on earth did CPS, which had predicted huge losses without a requested 5-percent rate hike, turn around and earn these unanticipated millions? your readers may want to know. i wrote a story just last week about how the utility has not been reading — but estimating — tens of thousands of meters in SA every month. the cases i found were gross overestimates. that probably helped. then there have been enormous fuel surcharges added to all customer bills the last two month that have been as high as 1/3 of some total bills. to see a story like this, where you glorify the utility’s rape of their customers in service of the city, apparently is not playing well with the ratepayers, i mean people, of san antonio. you can read my take on cps at http://www.sacurrent.com/news/story.asp?id=69137

But jerked-off ratepayers certainly aren’t the whole story.

One fella (NOT pictured below) who I tried to meet with pre-Hot Wired has another (informed) opinion on where all this “unanticipated” revenue is coming from. Why, from selling electricity to those outside their zone of responsibilty, ie. San Antonio, of course.

MORTALITY BREAK: Landscaping at Harry's Tinaja in Alpine, Texas. Yep, that's where I got my beer and wi-fi last stopover.

He wrote a select group of X-News editors and writers, thusly:

It is not a surprise to everyone and it could not be a surprise to CPSE. It was about this time last year when CPSE announced the same ‘unanticipated profits.’ CPSE and the City have had over one year now to collect data determining the load and demand created by their completion of the 345Kv Cagnon to Kendall Transmission Power Line and CPSE’s purchase of AEP’S interest in the South Texas Nuclear Project.

Per ERCOT Transmission Services Systems Planning Staff’s report update to Exhibit A 7/22/03. pg 6, under Power Transfer Considerations, it is stated – ‘The 345Kv line (to Kendall) increases the ability of CPS to transfer power into the LCRA system by about 450MW and into the Houston area by about 700MW.’ CPSE’s combined export commitment to other utility companies increased by 1,150MW. (See note 1)

It must be noted that not one CPSE direct customer is served by the completed Cagnon to Kendall project and that the defined, critical project objectives have been met. It seems to have been all about energy transport impacted by LCRA’s energy needs and AEP’s sale of their interest in STP (nuclear) and junking/mothballing their 20+ remaining generating plants (See Note 2).

Due to CPSE having received state (ERCOT) and rumored Federal compensation for the Kendall project, San Antonio is likely locked into being a regional provider of energy to a broad expanse of LCRA and AEP’s serving area from Brownsville to West Texas. Seems a great business decision that should have been made with full City Council involvement. San Antonio and Bexar County citizens should have been informed that CPSE transport plans would necessitate the building of additional power plants with their resultant environmental consequences.

Many of us are resentful/angry due to our belief the City of San Antonio used ’eminent domain’ to confiscate heritage lands to build a power line for ‘unanticipated profits.’ We believe the line would not have been constructed if the San Antonio public had known the truth about the purpose of the line.

Note 1. Per ERCOT disclosure, the resultant power transfer from CPSE to LCRA and Houston appears to exceed the total capacity of San Antonio’s presently under construction Spruce 2 powerplant. More power now needed.

Note 2. AEP’s operations and impact in the South and West Texas ERCOT serving area are outlined in AEP’s 2004 and 2006 Annual Report.
In addition to the Express News, this memo will be sent to government representatives and other interested parties. I have met my responsibility.

Will the San Antonio City Council ever get serious about looking into the utility’s antics. Not as long as that money keeps showing up, common wisdom would hold. But then, that’s a cynic’s response.

[LATE ADDITION, 8/14: Seems, of all things, a power outage interrupted by friend’s transmission. I continue it here…]

Yesterday, after spending considerable time on the memo, our area had another of our usual and frequent power failures and I lost all I had composed. Due to other commitments, I was not able to completely reconstruct my thoughts. In my haste, I neglected to elaborate on the surcharges.

Some of us get quite perplexed when we experience continual electrical failures in northwest Bexar County yet that “Kendall line in our face” keeps right on humming.” During CPSE’s original justification for the transmission line, mainstream San Antonio media misled the public by portraying the “northwest of San Antonio necessity”to include parts of San Antonio and Bexar County. The 345,000 volt line serves LCRA, Bandera Electric and co-ops in at least five counties – not our area. They were correct about it being northwest of San Antonio even if it was way northwest of CPSE’s serving area.

Regarding the City’s windfall surcharges, it is important to determine if the other distribution entities for whom CPSE provides energy (including ERCOT’s wholesale market) also pay the corresponding surcharges. If not – our citizen base is subsidizing CPSE’s sale of energy to those entities. Seems CPSE’s rates to the outside entities should bear the cost for the related incidental need for the gas fired plants.

The truth on these matters will never see the light of day absent CPSE testimony before a government body and under oath!!!

PORTALITY BREAK: Strange meandering fungiform visitor drifted onto our apartment patio with Monday's cool damp. Excited gawking ensued.

Also: Attention Border Wall warriors. A last-hope march to raise awareness and stall a 50-mile segment of yuck planned for downriver of El Paso.

Notice below…

[IMAGE CREDIT: Transmission lines are up in humming in Pakistan, courtesy of Al’Wasay Construction Company (with some color adjust). Didn’t have any good Cagnon line pics to share.]

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