Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
What to Know Before You Go On A Cleanse

What to Know Before You Go On A Cleanse

Food & Drink: It’s been a year since I’ve taken up this gig of eating and drinking across San Antonio. Since then, no fewer than seven juice shops have opened in the area... By Jessica Elizarraras 8/20/2014
Big Hops Gastropub Brings Beer-centric Eats to the Northside

Big Hops Gastropub Brings Beer-centric Eats to the Northside

Food & Drink: On a recent Sunday, my wife and I drove up 281 and into the heart of San Antonio’s ever-expanding Northside suburbs to try out... By Lance Higdon 8/20/2014
SA’s Gritty PuroSlam is Feared, Respected in National Slam Poetry Scene

SA’s Gritty PuroSlam is Feared, Respected in National Slam Poetry Scene

Arts & Culture: See, there is this place where people participate in a ritual derived from the verbal tradition of telling and retelling stories to a room of bodies... By Melanie Robinson 8/20/2014
Brendan Gleeson Carries Pitch-black ‘Calvary,’ Weighed Down by the Rest

Brendan Gleeson Carries Pitch-black ‘Calvary,’ Weighed Down by the Rest

Screens: Father James (Brendan Gleeson) sits in a confessional, waiting. An unseen man enters the box and says, “The first time I tasted semen, I was seven... By David Riedel 8/20/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

News

How Sologen’s plan to turn abandoned oil and gas wells into geothermal power producers could replace coal power in Texas.

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Students and staff of Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Lab log temperatures at a well site outside Corpus Christi.


The utility’s push to double the South Texas Project nuclear complex was roughly buffeted by issues of high cost and lack of transparency among partners — but it was only iced when Japan’s multi-meltdown Fukushima disaster set the entire nuclear industry reeling.

Today CPS expects to meet future growth through the construction of new natural gas units and continued investment in renewables like solar. But until big strides are made in energy storage, the renewables won’t be able to do the city’s heavy lifting of raising our baseload power, the stuff that runs 24 hours a day no matter if the wind blows or the sun shines.

While Cris Eugster, CPS Energy’s chief sustainability officer, is hopeful that future research and development projects could make solar and wind (especially when paired with better energy management overall) more like reliable baseload energy, he recognizes it’s not there yet. And while geothermal has that coveted consistency on its side, it hasn’t been proven in the field. “It’s consistent from the get-go,” Eugster said, “but it’s not as far along as solar or wind. You can go to a wind farm right now, see it and feel it; you can’t do that with geothermal.”

For that reason, the handful of companies that have come calling in the hopes of securing commitments from CPS to buy their power (the way CPS committed to purchase 200 megawatts a year from the experimental “clean” coal plant to be built outside Odessa) have been turned away.

Smith, however, they’ll be watching with what could be called an interested detachment. Geothermal today is “almost like the venture capital world, and we’re not a venture capital firm,” said Eugster. “It’s very exciting technology, but really it’s something someone has to prove out there first.”

 Smith is not your typical green-energy booster. He’s a businessman. An entrepreneur. He said he was inspired by former mayor Phil Hardberger’s unveiling of Mission Verde at 2009’s State of the City address, not for the chance to clean up the air, or do a good deed, but by the dollars involved. Considering the city’s newly launched sustainability program was calling for massive investment in energy efficiency and solar power, efforts now gaining muscle mass under the leadership of Mayor Julián Castro, Smith remembers thinking: “That’s $2 billion in work and you want to do that in how many years?”

Previously, Smith says he had moved between healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and computers. The “greenest” project he’d tackled before he calculated the potential profits involved in Hardberger’s vision was a propane-powered weed whacker. (Puffing on a cigar inside the Quarry Market’s Club Humidor, he pauses, an eyebrow cocked, as if asking “Perhaps you’ve heard of it?”)

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus