Austin Leaders ask San Antonio to Push Pause

Austin Leaders ask San Antonio to Push the Pause Button on New Nuclear Plants

For Immediate Release
October 26, 2007

Karen Hadden, SEED Coalition 512-797-8481
Neil Carman, Lone Star Sierra Club 512-288-5772

Download this press release in a PDF file for printing.

AUSTIN, Texas – When NRG, of New Jersey, and CPS (City Public Service) a utility owned by the city of San Antonio, filed with regulators on September 24, 2006 for licenses to expand their Bay City plant it was the first nuclear power application since the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania. The accident halted plans for new reactors in the U.S. Austin city leaders are asking San Antonio and CPS Energy to slow down and do a full analysis of energy options before entering into any contract with NRG.

“Austin should be exploring all of our options with renewable energy sources, such as our recent vote to support Heliovolt to develop solar energy.” said Austin City Councilmember Jennifer Kim.

“It is far too big an investment with far too much financial risk to rush into without careful consideration,” said Karen Hadden, Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. “The cost estimates on the two new reactors are significantly less than what financial analysts are predicting the real costs will be. We don’t want to end up making a mistake that will cost us more than six times more than we bargained for and take twice as long as expected to come on line, like the two existing reactors at Bay City did. The cost overruns and delays wreaked havoc on our city’s budget and bond rating for years.”

Aggressive energy efficiency initiatives allowed Austin to avoid building a 700 megawatt coal plant during a time of explosive growth in the city’s population. And that has resulted in some of the lowest electric bills and rates in the state. San Antonio could do the same. In a recent study commissioned by CPS, it was shown that energy efficiency programs, like stronger building codes and retrofit programs, could reduce San Antonio’s energy demand by 1,220 megawatts.

“I do believe we should work together with San Antonio and the LCRA, in a regional approach. For example, consider what we could accomplish with solar power if the region were coordinated. We could reduce central Texas’ global warming emissions, while bringing jobs to the region,” said Councilmember Jennifer Kim.

“There are many options that could reduce Texas’ global warming emissions, bring jobs and new industries to the region, and keep electricity rates affordable, while avoiding the construction of new nuclear plants,” said Karen Hadden, “Stronger building codes, greenbuilding programs and retrofit programs of new and existing buildings could reduce the region’s energy demand while creating a market for new local industries and allow us to avoid building a new nuclear plant.”

“Nuclear power is way too costly – for taxpayers’ pocketbooks and for human health and the environment,” stated Dr. Neil Carman, Clean Air Program Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We need to stay the course to meet our energy needs by vastly increasing energy efficiency across all sectors and by developing more renewable energy – more wind and more solar power. We join in the request to the CPS board to push the pause button on the new nuclear plant application.”