CPS: The case of the missing â??green' paper and other active conspiracies

Put in my hand by a lone messenger. Please don't shoot him.

Greg Harman

[email protected]

At the Current, we haven't always been the easiest on Councilmember Mary Alice Cisneros (below, right, in sepia).

For instance, we said in the lead-up to her recent reelection that the Grand Dame of politic dynastism (we mean that in a good way) had been “forced to prove” that she has been “engaged,” when we all know she is the long-suffering faithful wife of local luminary Henry Cisneros. And what does her marital status have to do with the price-per-kilowatt of plasma-generated energy anyway?

But, you know, all this rough treatment is so “old” Current. And it goes out the proverbial window along with former staffer Gilbert Garcia, who has joined the world of trans-continental trucking with a contract angling him into the Tierra del Fuego. So, out with all that baggage, right?

Welcome to the *All New Pro Mary Alice Recorder* where we spin golden all the latest news from the Council veteran (with asterisks!).

Scale with us over the tonnage of manure on display at last night's public airing of CPS Energy's nuke-expansion pitch. At the top you will see the first crack of applause. There is Mary Alice, asking simply if a $5.2 billion investment in nuclear would cut into (in her phrasing, “conflict” with) the city's ability to become a clean-energy Mecca as first outlined in the former mayor's sustainability plan of Mission Verde.

Boom. Thunder. Roar of injustice-consuming lions.

But it was just a question after all, and the city-owned sustainability man's response (the ever popular: â??We need it all,' meaning nuclear) pacified her a little too quickly.

Still, it was almost enough for the crowd to hear someone on the dais utter “conflict.”

While Mayor Castro has forced of the conversation into more flexible territory, there has also been sustained behind-the-scenes needling by Councilmember John Clamp.

Clamp, one of the most Republican of our council members who earned the local Sierra Club's endorsement for his on-going fight for transparency at the utility, has been hunting for answers to one of the community's long-simmering questions: What happened to the $50 $40 million in energy efficiency and clean-energy programs supposed to be included in the 2008 3.5% rate increase. (We've been giving it a go, too.)

Clamp's chief adviser on policy and zoning, Mario Hune, told the Current he has been working for “five or six weeks” to get an answer to the stickler and others like it and, thanks for asking, “No. We have not received that data yet.”


Consider also that Clamp's question last night about the energy options available to help ease the burden on local ratepayers (projected, left) would have elicited a far different response had a study performed by international sustainability guru (and advisor to several heads of the European Union) Jeremy Rifkin been released.

As it stands, the study commissioned months back has been gathering dust at CPS, we were told by city staff this week, though it should have been shipped back for a final edit from Rifkin up to two weeks ago.

The contract with Rifkin was for a recommendation on how to transition the city into a more decentralized (that is, fewer power plants, lots more renewables on-site) city.

So, what are our alternatives?

CPS doesn't know.

Russell Seal of the Alamo Chapter of the Sierra Club nearly erupted in his chair when one CPS'er suggested energy storage for solar and wind power was not technologically feasible.

In his hand, a flyer from PB Energy Storage Services, whom he said CPS managers have simply refused to contact, crinkled in his fist.

On Seals' angry march back to his chair from the microphone, CPS Co-GM Steve Bartley took the form, promising to make the call â?? this time.

(According to the group's web site, they have constructed compressed air storage systems in Alabama and Germany for peak-load energy storage.)

Although the 50-some speakers obviously wore on some council members, every one of them stayed awake, in their chairs, and facially responsive.

When talk leaned toward the dull side after nearly three hours, mention of a five-legged foal at Three-Mile Island jolted Mayor Julian Castro back to the present. (And while a cursory â??net search didn't bag us a spider-foal, other animal horrors â?? human and otherwise â?? are reminders that the risks with nuclear are in another league from natural gas, solar, and the like.)

Though some are grousing on the set-up of the meeting, it has advanced the dialogue significantly. One more stroke in the progress column: Mayor Castro has committed to “at least” one more public meeting hosted by the council. Maybe more.

In the meantime, we're looking forward to crazy anti-antics before the Council B Session tomorrow to be followed by the tranquil flow of liberating political wisdom.


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