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Rackspace, CPS Energy Push For Clean Energy, Better Air Quality

Rackspace’s commitment to meeting its Global Energy Policy starts at home. And today, political, business and civic leaders will gather for “Keeping It Clean: Our Air, Our Health” at Rackspace’s Castle headquarters for a frank and necessary discussion about air quality in the San Antonio region.

“Keeping It Clean: Our Air, Our Health” is a forum hosted by the San Antonio Clean Technology Forum to confront the ozone challenge the greater San Antonio region faces. The forum is intended to catalyze community education, informed discussions and aggressive action to counteract the ever-growing ozone problem.

The stakes are high.

This region violated federal air quality standards for ozone last summer, and again this summer. Action is necessary to avoid the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from designating the region as a non-attainment area, which means its air quality is below national standards and federal financial assistance could be lost without a plan to meet or exceed the standard.

Exposure to high levels of ozone also poses a health hazard.

For the more than 3,500 Rackers who provide Fanatical Support from Rackspace’s San Antonio headquarters, access to reliable, affordable clean energy is mission critical.

That’s one reason Melissa Gray, Rackspace’s director of sustainability and strategic partnerships, and Brian Carney, Rackspace’s director of global real estate, came to CPS Energy last year. Turns out, CPS Energy knows a thing or two about affordable clean energy; and a collaboration was born.

Already, the relationship between CPS Energy and Rackspace has increased Rackspace’s energy reliability, saved power (and money) and sponsored an electric vehicle infrastructure for the community. Meanwhile, Rackspace is sharing its unique culture with a group of CPS Energy’s emerging leaders.

Both Rackspace and CPS Energy hope their partnership can serve as a model for action for the region.

Peter Bella, natural resources director with the Alamo Area Council of Governments, says there’s still time for San Antonio to head off more onerous federal demands and reduce the heath risks associated with ozone. Today’s gathering features Bella, Judge Nelson Wolff and CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby, with Robert Rivard moderating.

Part of Rackspace’s interest in local air quality is driven by its commitment to SA2020, the ambitious, community-driven initiative to improve San Antonio by 2020. Rackspace Chairman and Co-founder Graham Weston serves as one of the tri-chairs of the broad strategic plan for San Antonio.

CPS Energy and Rackspace are both leaders when it comes to reducing emissions.  Rackspace purchased 30 percent renewable energy in 2012 and hopes to increase it to 35 percent in 2013.

CPS Energy, while producing more power to support a growing San Antonio, has decreased the production of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides and carbon dioxide that it emits; is a leader in wind and solar power purchases; has built one of the nation’s cleanest coal plants; is retiring its most polluting coal plant by 2018; and purchased a natural gas plant that emits virtually no particulate matter, mercury or sulfur dioxide.

The steps taken by Rackspace to reduce its costs and increase reliability are available to any CPS Energy business customer.

“If you’re a large company, and it’s been a while since you’ve checked in with your account manager, you definitely should,” said Al Alexander, a commercial energy manager at CPS Energy.

If not, he said, a company could miss out on significant savings — and the region could miss out on significant emissions reductions.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Tracy Idell Hamilton.

Tracy Idell Hamilton writes, edits and manages the Energized blog for CPS Energy, the nation's largest publicly-owned electric and gas utility. A former reporter, Hamilton covered energy, government and politics for the San Antonio Express-News for nine years. She attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Mills College. Follow her @tracyihamilton and @cpsenergy.


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