CPS Energy announced plans at its November 24 board meeting to address San Antonio’s energy needs via an aggressive conservation plan and by building a new solar power plant. But beneath the glossy green veneer of its self-proclaimed environmentalism, the company continued to lay the groundwork for increased use of nuclear power in South Texas with expansion of the South Texas Project in Bay City. [See “CPS must die,” October 24, 2007.]

CPS didn’t come right out and open the meeting by pushing for STP expansion, of course. The nuclear option was cushioned with lots of happy talk about “aggressive” action to reduce consumer energy use and costs. But in the end, it was all building toward a nuclear-power pitch that failed to acknowledge nuclear power’s radioactive waste as a “risk factor” and that wouldn’t save residential consumers a dime for at least 32 years. CPS announced that it will wait until next fall, however, to make a decision about STP.

“This was the meeting where they were supposed to say they were going full blast ahead [with nuclear],” says Karen Hadden of the Austin-based Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition. She found some hope that “they gave themselves two major outs,” noting that CPS is waffling over the uncertainty of investor confidence and loan guarantees.

On the plus side, CPS is moving forward with a $685-million energy-efficiency plan that aims to curb San Antonio’s power usage enough over the next 12 years to avoid building a new power plant. But it appeared CPS is trying to greenwash the nuclear option by juxtaposing it with plans to get a solar power plant going by 2010 or 2011.

The beating around the nuclear bush began with an extensive report on the company’s energy-efficiency study by Nexant, a San Francisco-based energy-consulting company that was spun off from a technology consultant group of multinational corporate titan Bechtel in January 2000. Readers of John Perkins’ best-selling Confessions of an Economic Hit Man may recall Bechtel being described as one of the world’s most powerful engineering and construction companies, “a prime example of the cozy relationship between private companies and the U.S. government,” with an executive staff populated by Reagan-Bush cronies.

After a cheery report by Terry Fry, Nexant’s Senior Vice President of Energy and Carbon Management on the “Demand Side Management Potential Study” (the City-owned utility could cut 569 megawatts by 2020 with “energy-efficiency technology” such as insulating older homes and changing out windows), CPS’s Paul Barham – senior director for electric generation research & planning – stepped in to lower the nuclear boom.

Barham touted the company’s goal of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions as part of its environmental commitment and said the STP expansion would help CPS cut 127 million tons of C02 emissions by 2033, as opposed to only 32 million through renewables or 49 million through the Save for Tomorrow energy-efficiency plan.

Full Story: http://www.sacurrent.com/news/story.asp?id=69631