Reporting San Antonio

VIDEO: ‘People-Powered Town Hall’ & Next Steps for JK Spruce Coal Plant

Click play to view Climate Justice SA’s recent ‘People Powered Town Hall’ held on November 15, 2022, about CPS Energy, climate change, and our energy future.

For folks interested in a clean(er) energy future for South Texas, there’s a clutch of critical meetings ahead in December.

Greg Harman

During the People-Powered Town Hall, one panelist decried a proposal to convert one JK Spruce coal unit to run on gas. An attendee alleged discovery of black gunk in a fish caught at Calaveras Lake, a cooling pond for the 1300MW two-unit coal plant open to the fishing public. CPS Energy CEO Rudy Garza maintained the plant’s clean record with regulators. And Public Citizen’s state director Adrian Shelley chided Garza for hiding demonstrable coal-ash pollution behind the veneer of a regulatory regime he cast as overly forgiving of chronic offenders.

Looming over the entire discussion is Spruce’s 8 million metric tons of climate pollution injected into an overheating atmosphere in 2021 alone. Though relatively young, the billion-dollar Spruce is, far and away, the largest climate offender in greater San Antonio. It emits nearly half of all local pollution and is the sixth worst climate polluter in the state, according to US EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

So what comes next for the coal plant and energy generation in San Antonio? The CPS Energy Board are anticipating a recommendation for closing the plant by 2030, a plan requested by the board members from the volunteers serving on the City-owned utility’s Rate Advisory Committee. Opportunities for public engagement are lining up thick in December leading up to that recommendation.

CPS Energy’s next Board of Trustees meeting is Tuesday, November 29, 2022. Then the utility is hosting its last Open House of the year on December 1, followed by an online Town Hall on December 8. The CPS Energy Rate Advisory Committee is expected to vote on its recommendation to CPS on the early retirement of the coal plant on December 15, 2022. (You can get caught up on their thinking by reviewing documentation from their November meeting.)

The Spruce recommendation—which appears good for clean air, not so great for employment, as outlined so far—is expected to then be delivered for possible action by CPS’s Board on December 19.

All meetings are open to the public and accepting of public comment—but educate yourself about the often limited windows in which to register to make them.

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