Local environmental group not satisfied with closing of Deely Plant

Climate Action San Antonio also wants Spruce Power Plant shut down

SAN ANTONIO – The CPS Energy Deely coal-fired plant officially closed its doors on New Year's Eve, and not a moment too soon for Greg Harman, of Climate Action San Antonio.

"Dirty Deely. It's the oldest and the dirtiest coal plant in (the) CPS Energy fleet," Harman said.

Courtesy: Greg Harman, Climate Action San Antonio

Despite the plant finally shutting down and CPS Energy looking into other energy resources, groups like Climate Action San Antonio say their fight for cleaner air quality isn't over just yet. 
"It's a small win," said Melissa Enick, who lives 4 miles south of the Calaveras Power Plant.

Environmentalists say that win came slowly after the Deely Plant operated for more than 40 years. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency's greenhouse gas report, Deely released 4.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2017. 

It's not the only coal-fired plant at the Calaveras Power Station on the Southeast Side, either. Harman is now focused on closing the Spruce Power Plant that resides on the same property.

"Altogether, this complex is responsible for hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic heavy metals," Harman said.

According to the EPA Toxic Release Inventory from the Calaveras power plant as a whole in 2017, here are some of the metals released: 

  • Barium: 594,910 pounds
  • Lead 4,313 pounds
  • Mercury 419 pounds

CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold-Williams said the utility is aware of the emissions and is doing its best to protect the community while providing sufficient power. She said that's why CPS Energy closed the Deely Plant. 

"We get that it's important to be protected from the environment," Gold-Williams said.

The Spruce coal plant remains open because it meets current environmental standards that Deely did not.

"We hear the community and have been on a path for many years to reduce our emissions, and we have done so, and we will continue to do that for the community (as) best we can," said Gold-Williams, who added that is why the company is moving toward natural gas options. 

Harman said CPS Energy should be putting its focus on cleaner options, such as wind and solar energy. 

"When they talk about natural gas, it's putting off the real decision, which is, 'How fast can you do something that is going to be carbon neutral?" Harman said.

Enick said time is running out.

Before moving to the area, Enick said she suffered from mercury poisoning, and she believes the toxins that are released from the plant have prevented her from completely healing. 

Enick wants to make sure the children who live and play in the area are protected.

"It's a selfish world we live in," Enick said. "Full of greed, and nobody is looking after what the future is for the little ones. What are going to leave them?" 

CPS Energy said the company is considering wind and solar energies, but because the company is weather-dependent, they need other technologies to produce enough energy efficiently.

The utility has also invested in its STEP Conservation program, which gives incentives to customers to reduce energy use, which CPS Energy said has decreased since 2009. 

CPS released the following statement to KSAT 12 News in regards to the metal emissions released from the Calaveras Power Plant, according to the EPA Toxic Release Inventory report:

CPS Energy continues to be on the path of controlling and reducing emissions of all types. We have a team of dedicated professionals who measure plant outputs to make sure environmental impacts are minimized and/or eliminated, where possible.  This is also exemplified through one recent action we took to deactivate an older coal plant on December 31, 2018. The deactivation coupled with our significant investments in renewables, conservation and energy efficiency have led to significant and beneficial environmental reductions for our community. Looking forward as part of our Flexible Path, CPS Energy will continue to explore more clean, reliable and economic opportunities to generate and supply power.

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.