Rising Star, Pro-Clean Energy Julian Castro Shines in Keynote Speech at DNC

Last night at the Democratic National Convention, we saw one of the rising stars of the party, Julián Castro, give the keynote speech. 

The 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, Texas, spoke long about his immigrant background and how – in just one generation – he and his brother Joaquín have been able to move up the ladder to where they are today. They both went to Stanford and then Harvard Law School. While Julián is mayor of the seventh-largest US city, his brother Joaquín is favored to win a seat in Congress this year.

As Grist points out, both brothers are outspoken advocates for clean energy in a deeply red state.

Julián, Mayor of San Antonia Since 2009

Julián Castro was re-elected last year with 83% of the vote.

Among his impressive accomplishments, he’s been working with San Antonio’s local utility, CPS Energy – the largest municipal utility in the US.

Grist says:

The mayor has led an impressive turnaround at the city’s utility, CPS Energy, which used to be known "for its bullheaded reliance on a fleet of enormous nuclear and coal-fired power plants built decades ago," as Forrest Wilder reports in the Texas Observer. Castro extricated CPS from an expensive and troubled nuclear-expansion deal. Last year, CPS announced that it will shut down a 900-megawatt coal-fired power plant by 2018.

Now, thanks in large part to Castro, the utility is following a "New Energy Economy" plan, and has renewable-friendly leadership that meets regularly with environmental groups. In 2010, the utility pledged to get 20 percent of its power from renewables by 2020, and it’s on track to far surpass that goal. The mayor and CPS officials have struck a number of deals to add solar capacity, bring cleantech companies to the city, and train workers for green jobs.

The mayor’s big idea has been to tie clean-power purchase agreements to economic investments in the city. Last year, when CPS put out a call for bids from solar companies, bidders had to explain not only how they would deliver solar power but what facilities they would build in San Antonio and how many jobs they would create.

Last month, that approach paid off big time. CPS signed a landmark deal with OCI Solar Power that will lead to the construction of five solar plants in the state providing 400 megawatts of power. It’s the largest solar project by a municipal utility in the U.S., CPS said, and will make Texas one of the top five solar-producing states. The deal will also have Nexolon America build a $100 million solar-component plant in San Antonio, creating an estimated 800 good-paying jobs. And both OCI Solar Power and Nexolon America are moving headquarters to San Antonio.

This doesn’t mean that Castro and CPS have given up on fossil fuels. The mayor has talked up the economic boost the region is getting from fracking for oil at the Eagle Ford shale deposit in South Texas.

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Even the deal CPS signed with a "clean coal" plant is innovative. First, it’s the first power purchase agreement signed with a commercial clean coal plant in the US. And the Texas Clean Energy project is the first in the country to combine Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle with carbon capture and storage.

It will capture 90% of the carbon it produces and most of that will be used for enhanced oil recovery and to make urea, which has many industrial applications.

Castro is also calling for high-speed or commuter rail, has launched bike-sharing and car-sharing programs. He’s also implemented a city-wide water recycling system.

Joaquín Castro, who has served for nine years in the Texas House, is expected to easily win a Democratic seat in Congress this year. He’s pro-clean energy and earns top scores from  the Texas League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.

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Comments on “Rising Star, Pro-Clean Energy Julian Castro Shines in Keynote Speech at DNC”

  1. Joe

    I just thought of something. The US has so much invested in dirty energy and dirty energy infrastructure, no wonder we support war for oil or destroy our environment for the status quo. Maybe that “cliff” is really an opportunity for the other 6.99 billion.

    Reply
  2. SHOCKED

    Solar Energy? For whom? Must be for the super rich, because of people like CASTRO who opt to sen business to South Korea, rather than employ our own people here in the USA. Knowing his stand on the ALAMO, this must be PAYBACK for AMERICAN Patriots…Oops! BAD WORD HERE! Castro will be known for OUTSOURCING AMERICAN JOBS!

    Reply

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