CPS attempts to vault board, threaten public with higher rates

Greg Harman

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Monday afternoon, CPS Energy's top brass released their $13 billion figure to the board of directors, including new mayor Julián Castro.

Toward the end of the meeting, board members expressed the meekest of hesitations.

Board Chair Aurora Geis stressed that with technologies developing as rapidly as they are, the utility is shooting at a moving target. That anything can still happen. It was an invitation for boosters of renewable power sources to believe yet that nukes are not, in fact, a done deal.

Then, there was hesitancy to embrace the current plan to sell off a chunk of the proposed nuke expansion into the open market as acceptable policy. Such sales occur as new capacity comes online and demand steadily grows, but the nuke expansion would be the first time merchant operations were adopted as policy. Meeting attendees were assured the board was still “discussing” this potential shift.

CPS's GM Milton Lee and Acting GM (Formerly Acting GM?) Steve Bartley appear to have taken the board on directly in a story scheduled for tomorrow's* Express-News, in which they warn that should the board fail to allow the utility to grow into a merchant power operation San Antonio customers would have to eat even higher bills than the nuke plant would otherwise require.

Vicki Vaughan reports:

Without a plan to sell power at wholesale to others, city-owned CPS would have to request a 7 percent to 8 percent rate increase every other year, CPS Energy interim General Manager Steve Bartley told the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board on Tuesday.

“We have considered how we could stay a 40 percent owner of the addition to the plant while minimizing the impact to the community,” Bartley said.

The answer, he said, is to sell half of CPS Energy's share of electricity in the wholesale market, as the expanded plant would produce more power than San Antonio can use.

CPS's leadership has unleashed its Nuke 2.0 public relations campaign on San Anto. Salvo One, AKA the pocketbook play, scores a direct hit.

Crazy idea, I know, but maybe we should only build what we actually need.

* Despite the dateline on this post, it was originally put up the night of June 30. So "tomorrow" is now today.

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