CPS Energy closes coal-fired Deely plant in operation since '70s to focus on cleaner energy sources

Costly upgrades, environmental concerns led to closure

On the last day of 2018, CPS Energy officially closed its coal-fired Deely plant that has been open since the late 1970s. 

The Deely station was part of the Calaveras Power Station on the Southeast Side near Highway 181 and Loop 1604.

The decision was made in 2011 due to the plant needing many environmental upgrades and a big push from the local environmental community. CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold-Williams said the much-needed environmental upgrades are what ultimately shut its doors.

“From an environmental standpoint, it was the right decision,” Gold-Williams said.

The antiquated coal fired plant was releasing large amounts of pollutants since the 1970s. According to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency Greenhouse Report, over the past 10 years, Deely released an average of 4.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into San Antonio's air.

Gold-Williams said that while CPS Energy is steering away from coal, there is another option being considered.

“I think a lot of it will be focused on gas and then new technologies coming down the pipe,” Gold-Williams said.

San Antonio will still have enough energy, despite Deely's closure. CPS Energy purchased the Rio Nogales gas plant in Seguin in 2012 to make sure enough energy could be produced for the city.

CPS Energy officials said they are not sure what they are going to do with the shell of the Deely plant, but they say it will not become a coal-fired plant again.

“We are having to do quite a bit of analysis, because once you use that footprint for coal, it's pretty challenging to convert it to a gas unit. But we are looking at it to see if the economics of it do work to do something else with that unit,” Gold-Williams said.

Gold-Williams said Deely employees were moved into different areas and are learning to work with new energy solutions.

She said nothing should change for customer's energy bills, since CPS Energy is moving more toward a natural gas solution.

“Coal is not the cheapest. Gas is ... arguably." And it's "consistent, great for reliability and very cost effective,” Gold-Williams said.

Local environmentalists celebrated the closing of what they call "Dirty Deely."

With other coal plants such as the Spruce plant still active, groups such as Climate Action San Antonio said there's still a lot of work to be done.

“Once it goes out the shoot, all of us are exposed and all of us are at risk,” said Greg Harman with Climate Action San Antonio. “I think that's what global warming and climate change means. Once it’s out there, we can't bring it back, so this is really a life-or-death issue.”

Friday on the KSAT 12 News Nightbeat, you'll hear from the local environmental group on what else they believe CPS Energy should be doing and what the closure means for one person who lives near the plant.

About the Author:

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.