Suburban Cities Threaten to Scuttle Nuclear Expansion

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Say its not fair that only SA can make critical decision

By Jim Forsyth
WOAI 1200 News Radio

San Antonio City Council is facing a new hurdle as it considers the proposed expansion of the South Texas Nuclear Project, as representatives of suburban cities which rely on CPS Energy for power are threatening to attempt to block the measure, 1200 WOAI news reports.

"The city of San Antonio and other ratepayers who have city council members, at least can speak to the city council," said attorney Karen Seal, who lives in La Coste. "We cannot."

Representatives of several suburbs say it is fundamentally unfair for San Antonio only to be able to make a decision which will affect the utility rates of hundreds of thousands of people who live outside the city limits.

"In Hondo, we have already shown that we are willing to take extraordinary measures to oppose nuclear power," Councilman Mike Sanchez said.

Sanchez said Hondo has gone on record supporting renewable power, and it's not fair for San Antonio to impose its vision of a nuclear future on his community.

Margaret Day, who lives in Alamo Heights, says she is prepared to circulate petitions to appeal the San Antonio vote to the Public Utility Commission of Texas if council goes ahead with a vote rubber stamping CPS Energy's plan to invest in up to 25% of two new reactors at the South Texas Project in Matagorda County.

"An appeal would take approximately a minimum of 180 days and more likely two years," she said, adding that an appeal would cause serious disruption to the city's plans to repay $400,000,000 in bonds it plans to sell to begin the process of building the new reactors.

"If San Antonio goes ahead with this project and approves a 9.5% rate increase this spring, they can expect a fight from people like me who live in incorporated areas,"

Representatives of Leon Valley and other communities have also expressed their concerns about the expansion.

"State law states that in situations like these, municipalities may file a petition with the PUC to oppose the rate increase," Seal said. "With a petition of 10,000 concerned citizens or five percent of the total ratepayers, incorporated cities could delay San Antonio's bond repaying by years. The San Antonio experience has shown that the nuclear issue is a powder keg of a public relations issue."

She added that she does not anticipate a problem getting 10,000 signatures. "How difficult do you really think it will be to get people to sign something that says 'my electricity bills are too high'?" she asked.

As a municipally owned utility, CPS Energy is exempt from the regulatory oversight of the Public Utility Commission when it comes to rate schedules.

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