Castro's nuke lobbying limited to date

Greg Harman

[email protected]

After the reconciliation of squabbling nuke-power partners NRG Energy and City-owned CPS Energy in mid-February, the utilities agreed to part ways ― to a degree.

By cutting its share from 40 percent to 7 percent, San Antonio was able to stop the million-per-day payments into the planned construction of two new reactors in Matagorda County. The spoonful of sugar NRG swallowed accepting the deal included an offer by Mayor Julián Castro to use his position to actively lobby on the project's behalf.

For his part, Castro has kept his word, but hasn't broken his back laboring under any promotional placards.

An open records request made by the Current shows that Castro included an hour-long meeting with Jonathan Silver, executive director of the loan guarantee program at the U.S. Department of Energy, in his February trip to Washington, D.C, during which he met President Obama and the Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. The Silver sit down was secured by CPS Energy staff days after the NRG-CPS settlement announced on February 17.

In discussion points for the meeting (lifted from an email from a CPS employee to the mayor's chief of staff on February 19), we read:

Though CPS Energy (San Antonio's municipally owned utility entity) will be a minority owner in STP Units 3& 4, the project continues to be one of the top nuclear development projects in the nation. We support NINA's development of STP Units 3 & 4. We support NINA's efforts to obtain Department of Energy loan guarantees on this project.

The next day, nuclear loan guarantees were also on the agenda when the mayor and his chief of staff Robbie Greenblum met with Carol Browner, Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change.

The only other meetings that could meet the definition of the records request ― that is, lobbying ― included a series of lunches with Council members (Chan, Taylor, and Rodriquez) and a September coffee meeting with Washington, D.C.,-based attorneys Clint Vince and William Booth to “discuss possible employment on nuclear issues.” Vince was the attorney who was later hired to add some legal muscle to the CPS side of the $32-billion lawsuit against NRG and Toshiba (aka NINA).

`"I believe the deal as outlined in the legal settlement is a good one for San Antonio, so I will continue to express my support for the federal loan guarantees," Castro told the Current this afternoon. Added at 4:26pm `

NRG Energy officials have declined to comment on earlier reports that the next beneficiary of the federal nuke-loan program is most likely to be either STP or Maryland's Calvert Cliffs.

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