June 30, 2003
San Antonio Board to File for New Coal Plant Permit
Citizen Groups Hoped for Delay but Pleased Board Took Positive Steps
SAN ANTONIO – Citizens groups are disappointed that City Public Service Board members today agreed to build a new coal plant in San Antonio. However, the groups are somewhat relieved that some necessary steps will be taken to improve the cities energy programs.
“We are pleased and feel a small sense of victory,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of the Texas office of the consumer group Public Citizen. “The board took four positive steps forward in terms of developing energy resources for the future.”
Board officials agreed to:
- Study the health consequences of a new coal plant in the area.
- Conduct an energy efficiency potential study to determine how to expand current programs.
- Set a 10 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2015, meaning that the city will generate 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
- Clean up current power plants in San Antonio.
These steps will aid in the city’s efforts to provide needed energy to the city, Smith said. Energy efficiency programs and renewable energy sources have helped cities like Austin keep utility rates low and air cleaner. Citizens are concerned, however, about the rush to file the permit, considering the cost and the fact that the studies of health consequences and energy efficiency potential have just been approved and are not yet completed.
“We believe that they should not have filed for the permit until the studies are completed,” Smith said. “It will cost $50,000 to file for a permit and $2 million for engineering costs.”
The groups, which include Neighborhoods First Alliance, the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition and Public Citizen, are reviewing the options to determine if they should fight this permit at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The groups had asked the board to delay the decision for 180 days, until studies could be done on alternate forms of energy and efficiency programs and until a health impact study could be done.