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Nation’s Largest Municipally Owned Energy Utility, San Antonio’s CPS Energy, Will Ditch Coal

But the vote sacrifices the city’s climate goals by extending fracked gas usage

SAN ANTONIO – In a victory for advocates of a transition to clean energy, the CPS Energy Board of Trustees voted today to approve a generation plan that will see the nation’s largest municipally-owned gas and electric utility stop burning coal by the decade’s end.

“Today is only the second-best day for protecting the air and climate from the scourge of burning coal at the J.K. Spruce power plant. The best day will be when someone throws the switch that officially ends CPS Energy’s decades of reliance on fossil fuels to power this city,” said DeDee Belmares, climate justice organizer for Public Citizen in San Antonio.

Two units at CPS Energy’s Spruce plant currently burn coal. The plan approved today, Portfolio 2 (P2), calls for the complete closure of one unit in 2028 while the other unit will convert to fracked natural gas in 2027. While the end of coal burning in San Antonio is welcome, advocates warn that continuing to burn fossil fuels is not the best path forward and sacrifices the city’s climate goals.

“Gas releases harmful methane pollution from when it is fracked out of the ground and until it is burned,” added Belmares. “Just because a fuel source emits less carbon dioxide when burned, it doesn’t make it a good option for our city when clean and renewable alternatives are available and increasingly affordable.”

The San Antonio City Council adopted its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) in October 2019. The CAAP set a goal for the city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050.

CPS Energy has acknowledged that the city will fail to meet its CAAP goals under P2.

P2 is one of several proposed scenarios analyzed by CPS Energy staff. Portfolio 9 (P9) would emphasize renewable energy sources. While it also called for a gas conversion at Spruce, P9 would have seen the converted gas plant shuttered by 2035, three decades earlier than under P2. The Portfolio 6 and Portfolio 7 scenarios would establish a plan for transitioning CPS Energy’s entire generation portfolio to carbon-free energy by 2035 or 2040, aligning with what many utilities around the country are doing.