AACOG weatherization program granted extension

The Alamo Area Council of Governments’ weatherization program last week was granted a funding extension through Dec. 31 — allowing AACOG to keep and expend federal stimulus funds that just a month ago were thought to be in jeopardy.

David Hendricks: Mexico, S.A. on same energy page

Castro, accompanied by his chief of staff, Robbie Greenblum, Deputy City Manager A.J. Rodriguez and others, visited Monday with the ministry’s undersecretary for energy planning and technological development, Sergio Alcocer. Castro briefed Alcocer on CPS Energy’s new thrust to combine alternative energy investments with job creation. Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission, known as CFE, is experimenting with solar but, as with nearly everywhere else, the challenge of wide deployment of residential rooftop solar panels persists because of upfront costs. For energy efficiency, Mexico already has advanced consumer programs in place, including replacing lighting, or bulbs, in houses and small businesses and the replacement of electricity-gobbling refrigerators. Mexico’s desert state of Sonora, with its large solar potential, is setting up a national research laboratory jointly with the University of Arizona.

Rolling blackouts possible this week

Rolling blackouts are “a possibility” throughout the week, as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas could cut off power for 15 to 45 minutes at a time in different areas to avoid full-on blackouts, said CPS Energy spokesman Victor Robledo.

ERCOT in level 1 emergency again

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees the high voltage distribution system for about 85 percent of the state, has started to pull in power from neighboring grids and is asking for conservation until 7 p.m. Friday. Thursday about 5,000 megawatts of power plant capacity were offline, more than 7 percent of the state’s total capacity, pushing the state to the verge of rolling blackouts.More mechanical breakdowns occur during prolonged periods of hot weather, according to power plant operators, as units tend to run for longer hours.

Grid operator avoids rolling blackouts

At one point during the afternoon, grid operator ERCOT — the Electric Reliability Council of Texas — warned there was a “high probability” of rolling blackouts.

Yet if the scorching weather should prompt ERCOT to call for wider rolling blackouts in the coming days, CPS and other utilities connected to the grid would be required to comply — and within 15 minutes, CPS spokeswoman Christine Patmon said.

CPS would not cut power to critical customers, such as hospitals and emergency services handled by the fire and police departments, she said, but residential customers would be affected.

Every degree a person lowers the thermostat below 78 adds an additional 7 to 10 percent to their electric bill as well as additional stress to the power grid.

State faces electricity shortage today

Texas is in danger of running short of electricity today and is asking residents and businesses to cut their power use from 3 to 7 p.m., the peak hours for demand. “We are expecting the statewide power supplies to be very tight over peak today, primarily due to the forecast for continued temperature extremes which causes higher than normal electricity use, and because of unexpected unit outages,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of grid operations and system planning for ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Shut off all unnecessary lights, appliances and electronic equipment, such as cable boxes and computers,

Castro aims to learn much from Israel

Mayor Julián Castro is expected to arrive in Israel this morning, leading a delegation of San Antonio business, utility and Jewish community leaders on his first trip to the Holy Land.

Science Friday ponders San Antonio’s energy future

Turning San Antonio into a renewable energy and sustainable development hub has been on Mayor Julián Castro’s agenda since 2001, and Friday, he and local industry leaders gave the nation a glimpse of how the city is adopting sustainable energy while witnessing a boom in conventional fuel exploration in the nearby Eagle Ford shale.

EPA’s tough new rules irritate officials in Texas

New federal regulations will force coal-fired power plants in Texas to clamp down on pollution that fouls the air of neighboring states. The Obama administration finalized the rule Thursday in an effort to reduce the amount of unhealthy smog and soot in areas around and downwind of the dirtiest power plants.

CPS Energy ratchets up investment in solar

The utility last week notified all of the bidders for that project that they have until July 16 to resubmit their proposals — but this time for up to 400 megawatts, in large part because the price of solar continues to drop.

Consumers urged to cut electrical use

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas canceled its earlier energy emergency alert at 4:55 p.m. but a “watch” remains in effect until reserves reach a comfortable threshold.