Clean power: Back to basics | The Economist

Posted on Oct 24, 2011

“Some cities have come up with specific targets for efficiency. In San Antonio, the municipally owned power provider, CPS Energy, has plans to cut its consumption by 771 megawatts through energy efficiency by 2020, using various incentives and nudges. Customers who buy highly efficient cooling systems rather than the minimum-standard kind can, for example, get a rebate to make up the difference in price. As the more efficient systems yield lower bills, this is quite an attractive proposition. The 771MW figure represents about 10% of the utility’s current generation capacity, or about as much as a typical coal-fired power plant can produce. This summer, in fact, CPS announced that it will shut down a 900MW coal-fired plant by 2018, a Texas first.Environmentalists hailed the announcement: coal is the most villainous fossil fuel. As with the customers, though, the city’s motivation was mostly pragmatic. San Antonio has its share of greenish priorities—downtown redevelopment, an electric fleet—but in deciding to close the coal-fired plant, the spur was simply cost. Installing a scrubber that would have brought the coal plant in question up to the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards would have cost half a billion dollars. The utility was keen to put off that expense, if not avoid it altogether, by making up the demand with natural gas or solar. Julián Castro, San Antonio’s mayor, argues that the energy efficiency is a complement to the latter, rather than a competitor. “One of the ways to bridge the time that those renewables need is by reducing the need for new energy,” he says.”


via Clean power: Back to basics | The Economist.