At an event this afternoon at UT-San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro announced a suite of green energy projects that he said would position San Antonio as the nation’s “recognized leader in clean energy technology” and help fulfill his aggressive environmental goals.
Most notably, Castro and leaders from CPS Energy, the city-owned utility, pledged to shut down one of its coal-fired power plants 15 years ahead of schedule. By 2018, the city would mothball the 871-megawatt J.T. Deely Power Plant — a bold move in a growing state that’s seemingly addicted to coal.
So what are they going to use for energy?
San Antonio plans to make up for the loss of power from Deely through a mix of energy efficiency and new renewable energy projects, including two solar power plants announced today: a 30-megawatt facility to be built by SunEdison and a 50-plus-MW plant, with the provider yet to be selected. Together with a 14-MW facility that opened recently in South San Antonio, the solar plants would push the city close to its goal of 100-MW of solar power by 2020.That’s right: solar.
And it’s not just energy they’re generating by coming out strong for clean energy, it’s jobs:
Mayor Castro also bragged on the clean-energy business growth in San Antonio, including the relocation of four companies — two of them, however, from nearby Boerne — to San Antonio, including SunEdison opening a regional headquarters there.And they’re aiming high:
The announcements, Castro said, would “truly define the nexus between sustainability and job creation.” San Antonio, he said, could become to clean energy what Boston is to biotech or the Bay Area is to high-tech.
It’s not even just about energy or jobs, it’s about health:
“San Antonio’s decision to phase out the Deely coal plant signals the beginning of the end of the coal-burning era and its associated air pollution and illness in Texas,” said Eva Hernandez, with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.So come on Valdosta and Lowndes County, let’s start hearing the excuses: “we’re nowhere near as big as that”, “we don’t own an electric company”, “we can never be….”
Or maybe we can start hearing some real transparency and vision! Valdosta and Lowndes County (and Hahira and Lake Park and Remerton and Dasher) can be leaders in bringing solar jobs through solar energy to south Georgia. Maybe we don’t use enough electricity to shut down Plant Scherer, but we could use enough solar to stop buying from Plant Scherer.
Don’t believe it’s possible? Even after we’ve made a good start on it with the Wiregrass Solar plant? Even in conjunction with wind off the coast? OK, let’s do the renewable energy study for south Georgia and find out!
“I think the take-home message is that San Antonio is about to leave Austin in the dust,” said Ryan Rittenhouse, of Public Citizen. “The entire rest of the country should be following their lead.”And we could lead south Georgia and maybe Georgia and the southeast. We know people who do have vision and who already helped build the Wiregrass Solar plant. We can start with following up on the initiative by Mayor Fretti and Commissioner Powell to expand the Wiregrass Solar plant to a megaWatt.