New Coal Plant Underway near San Antonio, Texas

Mar. 22--CPS Energy officials Tuesday celebrated the start of construction on their new $1 billion coal-fired plant at Calaveras Lake, the first new coal plant to be built in Texas in 15 years.

When finished, Unit 2 of the J.K. Spruce Power Plant will be capable of generating 750 megawatts. CPS provides electricity to some 630,000 customers, and is adding more than 1,000 per month.

CPS will spend more than $200 million on environmental controls for the facility, and another $400 million to upgrade emissions controls on its other coal-fired power plants.

"All in all, CPS Energy is investing more than a half a billion dollars to have the best suite of qualified power plants in the U.S., or most likely anywhere else for that matter," said Milton Lee, general manager and CEO of the utility.

The last hurdle to build the plant was crossed when the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved its permit earlier this year. Environmental groups fighting the plant dropped their opposition after CPS agreed to step up its conservation and renewable energy goals.

CPS Energy has agreed to raise its target for energy efficiency and conservation to 65 megawatts by 2016 and for renewable energy to 15 percent of capacity by 2020. The old targets were 30 megawatts by 2011 and 10 percent of capacity by 2015.

"Spruce 2 is going to have the best available emissions control technology in the United States," said Mayor Phil Hardberger, who also serves on the CPS Board of Trustees. "And they did that in part because they listened to the community and the community's desires to have an environmentally friendly plant."

Spruce 2, slated for completion by 2010, will be built by Calaveras Power Partners, a consortium led by Zachry Construction Corp., of San Antonio. The construction is expected to employ some 900 workers.