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Despite activists' demands, CEO of San Antonio's CPS Energy says she can't afford to shut coal plant

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CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold Williams speaks during an energy symposium. - CPS ENERGY
  • CPS Energy
  • CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold Williams speaks during an energy symposium.
Despite a petition calling for CPS Energy to shut down its Spruce 2 coal-fired power plant, the city-owned utility's top official told the Express-News she's not willing to take that step.

In a virtual meeting with the daily's editorial board, CEO Paula Gold-Williams said CPS still owes $1 billion on the plant, which went into commission 10 years ago. That means the utility can't afford to close it down within the next decade — something groups including the Sierra Club have demanded.

“Spruce 2 is only 10 years old,” Gold-Williams said. “All the debt that goes along with the bonds doesn’t go away.”

Roughly two dozen environmental and social justice groups have circulated a petition demanding that CPS retire Spruce 2 no later than 2030 and expand the utility's investment in renewable energy sources.

Environmentalists say Spruce 2 and a companion plant that's scheduled to close by 2030 play a major role in the greenhouse emissions that pushed the San Antonio area into noncompliance with federal clean-air standards.

A Sierra Club-commissioned report from last year also estimates that the utility could save $1 billion from 2026 through 2040 by shuttering both coal plants and switching to renewables. 

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