New nuke plants have become quite the controversial undertaking in San Anto. Not in the upper levels of CPS, where they elevate at abuelita's secret mole status, a charge to kill and die for. If not to "lie" for, then at least to withhold every shred of relevant information, a process that had become -- in the words of one council member last night as I left the hall with Toxie -- a "shell game."
Problem isn't with CPS. It's with the voters, and the proposal is getting uncomfortably close to City Council. That bunch actually has to answer to the public -- without the benefit a multi-million public relations budgets to cloud their tracks.
In what nuke-fighters are counting as a preliminary victory, CPS agreed to pull the <1% of the proposed rate hike for nuclear explorations from the equation, replacing it with an expanded efficiency program. Efficiency is that free energy flowing out your shoddy insulation that a large slice of SA can't afford to restuff; it is the process of trapping wasted energy that doesn't serve a utility's bottom line (other than saving them those millions/billions needed for new megaplants).
When the City-owned utility's press release on this unexpected reversal reached the Current, it just so happened our pal the Toxic Avenger was milling about the fax machine waiting for an update from the janitorial union. Seeing the nuclear reference, he snatched it with his PCB-soaked toadskin and no one here dared to pull it away.
He offers us this analysis (PR is in black):
CPS Energy has amended the composition of a proposed increase in electric and natural gas rates that will amount to approximately 5 percent on customers' monthly bills. I know your lesionous Milton Lee is dead on for nuclear. We hear that all the way up in Hoboken. We're sensative, y'know, cuza that Oyster Creek nightmare. Thankfully, fear and intellectual increptiude has soiled the minds and britches of some of your City Bosses. Rather than see their reputations besmirched as my once ivory skin they have pushed back hard on the utility for some (soot-free) breathing room.
The less than 1 percent of the rate increase earmarked for nuclear development has been shifted to CPS Energy's expanded energy-efficiency program that includes customer rebates and incentives for the installation of energy-saving lighting and equipment as well as solar systems.
"Our new energy-efficiency incentives for customers have proven to be quite popular," said Aurora Geis, CPS Energy Board of Trustees chairman, "so much so it's conceivable our budget will run out before year's end. Reconfiguring the rate request will provide approximately $10 million a year more for energy efficiency. Based on our increasing investment in this area, we will hire a nationally recognized third-party expert this summer to update projections on the effectiveness of our accelerated energy-efficiency efforts."
My toxic-fighting comrades tell me there is a mayoral swap being negotiated and a statewide Nuclear Phil campaign would be bad timing... both for for your seated Treehugger and for those clinging desperately to his knees for anointing.
The unexpected tho "conceivable" run on current renewable dollars is a sadistic statement. Of course, power eaters have long been rattling for their liberation from power titans. Could it be efficiency and renewable programs were as underfunded as my own beauty budget?
Ah, but a Third Party assessment of efficiency potential... didn't that happen a few years back already?
The change in the rate request also will give CPS Energy, its Board and the company's regulatory authority – the San Antonio City Council – more time to review a soon-to-be-completed cost estimate before having to make a decision this fall on possibly adding two new generating units at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear power plant near Bay City. Black eyes in CPS know they can't hide behind Jersey's NRG energy figures. $7 billion is jes laughable, punk. You know the big money houses have set the mark at nearly $20 billion. You sure the mob isn't roosting on this deal?
Still CPS didn't have to alert any of this supposed "regulatory authority," your elected Council, that they have already been spending the $216 million their board approved for supposed mischaracterized "site reviews" and design schemes. In the toxic slums, we know such ante monies are typically spent on lawyers and lobbyists jetting into Washington and Nuclear Regulatory Commission antchambers for preferential treatments.
Any of your folks bothered to ask how this money is being spent or why? Who runs which, right?
The City Council is expected to consider the rate increase Thursday, May 15. Revenue from the 5 percent increase will help pay for capital improvements to meet the long-term energy needs of a growing Greater San Antonio.
Not defining Greater San Antonio? Huh. How much power is passing into other counties to fatten the coffers? They won't tell you, you say? Sensitive competitive information they plead to the Texas Attorney General, I know. Begging he let 'em keep their secrets. Now, silly question, but how can it be competitive if city power doesn't flow into deregulated ERCOT lands?
Mayor Phil Hardberger, a member of the CPS Energy Board of Trustees, said, "The CPS Energy proposal takes the nuclear component out of the rate increase. I think this is a good move, and I am very happy about it. Of course, nuclear will remain as one of the options for the future energy needs for this community."
Slick man. I like'm. Damage control from the man who voted up nukes, saying he wasn't "100 percent" on his decision and to ask him again "in 2025." But the toxified remember, Phil. It was the same doublespeak that landed me in those mutant cocktail barrels.
We remember this stuff. We watch closely.
Nuclear-generated electricity from STP satisfies approximately one-third of Greater San Antonio's needs at a cost significantly lower than other fuel sources.
To accommodate the shift in the makeup of the rate increase, CPS Energy will rely on currently available capital improvement funds to pay its nuclear development obligations. These include the filing of a combined construction and operation license application for STP Units 3 and 4 with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, refining a construction plan/cost estimate and reserving manufacturing slots for large equipment/components that have long lead times.
(Laughing, coughing, loud gluttenous hack.) Council? We don't need no stinkin' Council.
Revenue from the electric rate increase will help pay for the following major initiatives to serve CPS Energy customers:
- the construction of a large coal-fired generating unit at Calaveras Lake and the installation of natural gas-fired peaking units at Braunig Lake to produce affordable electricity;
- environmental commitments to the community and region including $500 million in emissions-control upgrades to existing power plants;
- a boost in customer rebates and incentives from $96 million over a four-year-period to approximately $136 million over four years as part of CPS Energy's more-aggressive energy-efficiency program; and
- needed electrical infrastructure such as substations and power lines.
Then the Avenger skips down the increasingly slimy sheet. There is Master Milton Lee humanized through the deft endenturing of the starched shirts and skirts of CPS public relations...
"We haven't had to request many rate increases during the past two decades because of growth throughout our community and sound financial management," said Milton Lee, CPS Energy general manager and CEO. "We truly wish we didn't have to request an increase in rates now because of tougher economic conditions, however we have made large financial commitments as part of our Strategic Energy Plan to satisfy our growing community's energy needs for the long run. We continue to add approximately 1,000 customers every month, and we're experiencing significant price increases in steel, concrete and other commodities necessary to complete capital construction projects." 500 out of work? Now that's efficiency. Wait til my union buddies get a load of this guy.
Lee noted that the recommended increases are not about operations and maintenance expenses, although CPS Energy has made a concerted effort to control costs. For example, through attrition and productivity improvements, the company has reduced its work force from 4,300 to 3,800 over the past five years.
"CPS Energy wants to do its part to stay abreast of the community's need for reliable, affordable energy," Lee said. "Small gas and electric rate increases will help make that possible. It also will enable us to continue offering the lowest energy bills of any major city in Texas or the U. S."
Breaks your heart to raise rates? Or is it the intrusion of these elected regulators and forceful anti-nukers? Where ya takin' us, Milty? Y'know. I sat in the shadows last night. I heard the public fears about these new plants you desire as much as they distrust your math skills an' trustfullness.
Jes' wait till I get the crew together on this one. The Toxic Crusaders have been aching for a good free-for-all.
(Back to Current staffer.) You got a smoke, Mac? I'm really groovin' on those American Spirits.
Toxie's history, bio, and evil-polluter-fightin' exploits.