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Ensuring adequate future supplies of electricity and water are two of the most pressing issues facing Texas, as strong economic performance and growth propel our state into the future.
The City of San Antonio, through its municipally-owned utilities, CPS Energy and San Antonio Water System (SAWS), has a long track record of managing energy and water resources well. We were the first in the nation to build a large-scale cooling lake to reuse the water required to cool the steam turbines in our power plants. It was so successful, we built a second.
Rather than using precious Edwards Aquifer water, CPS Energy’s two lakes use reclaimed waste water captured from San Antonio Water System’s Dos Rios plant to run power generators, before pumping it back into the lakes for reuse in the power plant cooling process, saving more than 300 billion gallons of water. This partnership between CPS Energy and SAWS has helped to ensure conservation is at the forefront of our community’s plans to meet the growing demands for both resources.
As Texas faces new concerns about resources, CPS Energy, SAWS and others have been challenged by Senator Troy Fraser and Representative Lyle Larson to collaborate with our regional water planning group—established by the Texas Water Development Board— to propose creative solutions that can increase electricity capacity in Texas, and develop new, alternative water sources.
One idea worth exploring is the co-location of a new combined-cycle natural gas peaking unit with SAWS’ brackish water desalination plant that could make a new, long-term water supply available while providing power to the state’s electrical grid—especially during critical summer months when demand for both is at its highest.
An approach such as this creates opportunities for our two utilities to share costs, plan together, take advantage of an unused water source, provide electricity and water to a growing community, all while ensuring the economic vitality of the region.
Texans have always found ways, through innovation and “can-do” leadership, to solve big problems, remain open for business, and provide a great place to live, work and play. Well-managed partnerships, such as the one between CPS Energy and SAWS, demonstrate how strong leadership and collaboration, and the resulting benefits, are significant for our community, our customers and for the great state of Texas.
Full disclosure: The Arsenal Group LLC, which publishes the Rivard Report, conducted an independent four-month review of CPS Energy communications for the utility starting in June 2012. Monika Maeckle, a former member of the The Arsenal Group and wife of Robert Rivard, now works at CPS as its Director of Integrated Communications.