CPS Energy sustainability report shows ‘significant’ emissions reductions

CPS Energy in San Antonio, Texas, has made “significant reductions” in emissions, according to the public power utility’s recently released sustainability report.

CPS Energy’s 2019 Environmental Sustainability & Stewardship Report documents reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), mercury, and particulate matter, as well as reduced water use and waste production. The report includes data through calendar year 2019.

“Our Flexible Path strategy, that includes a commitment to reduce our net carbon emissions by 80% by 2040, demonstrates the balance we need to introduce more renewables and new technologies, as we reliably serve our customers, now and into the future,” Paula Gold-Williams, CPS Energy’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

The utility is working toward full carbon dioxide neutrality by 2050 as part of the City of San Antonio’s Climate Action & Adaptation Plan, which CPS’ board of trustees endorsed on Aug. 26, 2019.

As part of its Flexible Path strategy, CPS Energy plans to issue a request for proposals later this year for FlexPOWER Bundle, its plan to add up to 900 megawatts (MW) of solar power, 50 MW of battery storage, and 500 MW of other capacity for times when solar panels are not producing power. CPS is also seeking solutions for the next iteration of its energy efficiency and conservation programs. The sustainability report also noted that CPS was able to reach 845 MW of demand reduction between 2009 and 2020, beating its goal of 771 MW of energy savings, without incurring any incremental debt or capital spending.

In terms of emissions reductions, CPS’ CO2 intensity has been on a downward trend, falling from about 2,000 pounds per megawatt hour (lb/MWh) of generation in 1980 to 827 lb/MWh in 2019. The utility’s total generation quadrupled during that period.

In addition to using a diverse combination of resources, including gas, coal, wind, solar, and nuclear energy, as well as energy efficiency and conservation measures, CPS has installed emission controls to limit NOx emissions and closed its two oldest coal-fired units, achieving a 78% reduction in NOx emissions since 1997. The closing of the older coal units also helped the public power utility to reduce its SO2 emissions by 97% since 1997.

CPS also put in place more effective fabric filter controls on its J.T. Deeley and Spruce coal plants that can remove 99% of particulate matter emissions.

The sustainability report also noted that by using treated wastewater from the San Antonio River, the utility has been able to save around 11 billion gallons of drinking water every year. The utility also said it recycles most of its waste material, diverting 16,000 of waste into landfills in 2018 and 2019.