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Aggressive efficiency program could power San Antonio's future

By Anton Caputo
San Antonio Express-News

An aggressive combination of efficiency and renewable energy could help power San Antonio’s future without multi-billion-dollar nuclear plants, according to an energy expert who unveiled preliminary findings today.

Arjun Makhijani, president of the Maryland-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, believes CPS Energy could save 1,000 megawatts of power by 2020 through an aggressive efficiency program. Makhijani has been hired by two environmental groups – the Austin-based SEED Coalition and San Antonio’s Alamo Group of the Sierra Club – to determine how much energy the city could save through efficiency and produce through environmentally friendly renewable energy sources.

Both groups are opposed to CPS Energy’s plans to partner with NRG Energy to build two new nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project in Bay City. The groups argue that the reactors are too costly, produce dangerous waste that cannot be safely stored and are simply not needed.

Makhijani, who is meeting with a group of local business leaders today to discuss the issue, agrees.

"CPS Energy has plenty of baseline capacity," he said at a press conference at City Hall this morning, adding that the utility could save as much as $3 billion by scrapping its nuclear plans and concentrating on efficiency and renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

Makhijani did give the utility credit for its recent announcement that it would try to save 771 megawatts of energy through efficiency, although the company has to finish an analysis of the plan before it makes the commitment firm. He also credited the utility for its focus on wind power. CPS Energy is tops in the nation for the use of wind power among public-owned utilities.

Makhijani’s final report on San Antonio’s energy efficiency potential should be complete in about two months.

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