SAN ANTONIO - With about a dozen environmentally conscious friends, Councilwoman Ana Sandoval was part of an impromptu champagne party Monday afternoon at Calaveras Lake, with the J.T. Deely coal plant serving as a fitting backdrop.
"Today's a special day," Sandoval said. " i came out here because it would be the last day Deely's in operation."
As of midnight tonight, Dirty Deely as its detractors call it, will be out of service, courtesy of CPS.
"We're starting off 2019 with a cleaner environment for everyone to breathe healthier," Sandoval said.
For over four decades, Deely has been one of the biggest carbon dioxide producers in Bexar County.
"There's a lot of heavy metals that come out of this plant. It's the largest key point source of lead and mercury that damages children's brains," said Greg Harman of the state Sierra Club and Climate Action SA,
Terry Burns, chairman of Alamo Sierra Club, also attended Monday's goodbye party.
"This plant puts out over 4 million tons of C0 2 every year. Shutting it down will stop that," he said.
Deely opened in 1977. With it closing down, environmentalists now want the neighboring Spruce coal plant to meet its demise too, sooner rather than later.
"We are hoping we can get Spruce shut down by 2025." Harman said.
Most of the several dozen workers at Deely will be assigned to other energy-related jobs.
"We want a just transition to a new energy economy. In the eight years or so since CPS committed to shutting down Deely early, they've been able to find new jobs, been able to transition their workers to good jobs. and a lot of those are going to be in solar and battery technologies," Harman said.
After years of negotiations, this is a day advocates of clean air and water say they can truly celebrate.
"We hope that eventually San Antonio and even the whole country will be coal free. this is the first step toward getting there," Sandoval said. "For me as an environmental health scientist, this is a really important moment for San Antonio."