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Scaling back or ending CPS Energy’s Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan—created to meet deep economic and environmental needs—shouldn’t be up for debate.
Expanding the sort of energy efficiency programs captured in City-owned CPS Energy’s Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP) has been at the core of community organizing for energy justice in San Antonio for many years. These programs help insulate low-income residents from extreme weather while reducing the need for new power plants. The assortment of demand reduction technologies, free home weatherization, and solar rebates helped San Antonio close its dirtiest coal plant in 2018 and are critical to reducing energy use that will allow us to close our last coal plant—JK Spruce—early as well.
The conversation was: How can we improve these programs? How can we expand them? How to get them deeper into underserved parts of the city?
In spite of constant nattering by the (thankfully) former CPS Board Trustee Ed Kelly, CPS was generally open to talk of expanding the programs, because, if nothing else, they save the utility money (exhibit a; exhibit b). As we moved toward re-upping for another 10-year program, it felt like we were making progress. But in the waning months of former CEO Paula Gold-Williams and later poorly illuminated spaces of early COVID-19 onset, CPS Energy balked. And rather than advancing another 10-year extension, the program inched forward in one-year extensions. It looked like they may even go by the wayside as an assortment of fossil fuel interests entered CPS’s inner orbit via the new-ish Rate Advisory Committee started spreading unwarranted skepticism about the “true” cost of solar and energy efficiency programs (see exhibit a and b above).
As Sierra Club organizer Shane Johnson puts it:
“STEP is a very successful and important energy efficiency program that helps lower people’s monthly bills and lower energy use during high demand and helps ensure the grid is reliable in every future winter and summer. Expanding STEP is not only the next step in offsetting bill raises we will all experience from the winter storm, but also is essential to making sure the local and statewide grids are as stable as possible.”
On Monday, the CPS Board is expected to again debate the future of STEP—which could end entirely this summer if no action is taken. They need to hear from the community at large: What role should energy conservation play at our utility? What about rooftop solar and storage? Weatherization that protects low-income and historically marginalized families while reducing the likelihood of outages?
Here’s how to be heard:
Sign up between 7am and 1pm on Friday, April 22, 2022, by calling 210-353-4662 or by emailing “PublicCommentRegistration@CPSEnergy.com.” NOTE: Messages left outside of those hours will be discarded.
For both phone calls and emails, please include the following required* information:
- First & Last Name *
- Title & Group/Organization you are representing (if applicable)
- City & State you reside in *
- Contact phone number *
- Email address *
- Whether your will be speaking in person or virtually *
- Which Board Agenda Item will you be speaking about? List the item number *
- Will you have handouts? Please attach the handout to your email.
- Do you require translation services?
- Note: Emails and phone messages received without required* information will not be registered.
You can also sign on to support via the Sierra Club action page.
This is the most recent PowerPoint from acting CEO Rudy Garza: