Study continues on desalination and power plants for SAWS, CPS Energy

By on February 20, 2014

While talks of co-located CPS Energy power and the San Antonio Water System desalination plants in southern Bexar County have made headlines recently, the realization of that joint project requires further study.

One feasibility study has already been conducted by SAWS; another is underway by CPS Energy and should be completed within a few months. If the results of those studies are favorable, an additional vetting process will begin, which will include input from CPS Energy’s Board of Trustees, the San Antonio City Council and the community.

The two city-owned utilities are continually in talks about ways to increase synergies between the two in the service of ensuring adequate future energy and water supplies, and have been discussing the possible co-location for months.

“We are still in conceptual stages at this point, said David Jungman, interim vice president of corporate development and planning. “There are many questions that need answering.”

News of this innovative co-location effort broke last month when the Austin American Statesman covered the partnership as a potential solution to looming resource adequacy issues in Texas. Around that same time, CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby and SAWS CEO Robert Puente co-authored an op-ed suggesting the co-location could help secure future water and energy needs.

“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 that the region continues to lead the way in economic viability,” the two wrote.

CPS Energy has contracted with HDR, a global consulting firm with expertise in water and energy, to do the initial feasibility study on whether there would be enough synergies to move forward.

If the study finds that the co-location effort is viable, a more in-depth study with SAWS would be launched. The city-owned utilities are expected to provide an update on this initiative during a March 17 joint board meeting. This would be the second time the utilities have combined their boards for a common meeting, as they take on combined water and energy issues.

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