A coal-fired power plant that has supplied electricity in San Antonio since the 1970s will be the first in Texas to shut down, the city and its electric company said Monday, an announcement that could put pressure on other energy suppliers to take similar steps.
The move by San Antonio's community-owned gas and electric company, CPS Energy, comes as many coal-fired plants nationwide face the prospect of stringent federal regulations on mercury and other emissions.
Texas, meanwhile, is struggling to meet the energy needs of a rapidly booming population. It has 19 coal-fired plants, more than any other state, and plans to build nine more. The announcement to shut down the Deely plant in 2018 could pressure the state's energy companies to focus their efforts on alternative power sources.
The Deely facility was supposed to be retired in 2030, but to meet the new highly anticipated environmental regulation, CPS Energy would have to install a $550 million "scrubber" -- equipment that helps decrease emissions. The company decided the scrubber would not be a wise financial investment, opting instead to close the facility and put its money in newer forms of energy, including natural gas, "clean coal" and solar, CPS spokeswoman Lisa Lewis said.
"It was a decision really driven by expectations that we're going to face more challenging environmental regulations," Lewis said, noting CPS and other power companies have to prepare for a "low and no carbon" future.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said the idea is to link "green" job creation to the hunt for new energy sources. Already, four new companies will move to the San Antonio area as part of the city's alternative energy future, creating between 800 and 1,000 jobs by 2015.
"San Antonio understands the nexis between sustainability and job creation," Castro told The Associated Press. "We're confident that we can achieve an economic and environmental gain. They're not mutually exclusive."