The skyline around Perrin Beitel Rd. may look a little different before the end of this year. The change is because our Tuttle Power Plant, which provided energy to the citizens of Greater San Antonio for nearly 50 years, is being demolished. In its prime, the four unit site provided 425 MW of generation, enough to power approximately 200,000 homes.
Power plants typically have operating lives of up to 50 years. During their operating life technology improvements and market changes will make these plants less competitive. Plant replacement will ultimately provide the best value for our customers.
I compare it to the 1960’s classic car that’s parked and covered in the garage and the newer car that’s parked in the driveway. The classic is well built, and they don’t make them like they used to, but there are added costs to owning and maintaining a classic. It’s hard to find parts nowadays, fuel mileage wasn’t a big concern back then so the miles per gallon is terrible compared to the newer car. So given a choice of which car I drive to work every day, the smart, economic choice is the newer vehicle.
Year after year, the costs to operate and maintain the older assets at Tuttle continued to increase and our newer, more efficient plants were dispatched more frequently, therefore the economic decision was made to retire the assets. Tuttle Unit 2 was retired in 2008, and Units 1, 3 & 4 were retired in 2011.
When we retire equipment, we still have an obligation to maintain it in a safe, environmentally compliant condition. Over time, the costs of maintaining that equipment has escalated. We monitored the scrap material market and moved forward with demolition when scrap material costs were up. This allowed us to avoid (or minimize) direct out-of-pocket expenses for demolition.
In 2014, we began the initial planning phase for the demolition project. The plan is to safely and in an environmentally friendly manner remove the facilities no longer required to serve customers. Extensive environmental surveys were conducted to properly categorize equipment for disposal or recycling in accordance to applicable OSHA and EPA regulatory guidelines.
The final phase of demolition is expected to wrap up in January 2017.
For more information on the project, please visit cpsenergy.com and search Tuttle.