CPS Energy seeks partners for rooftop solar expansion

By on February 9, 2015
solar rooftop

CPS Energy issued a request for proposals Friday for a pilot program that would expand local access to rooftop solar.

The proposal seeks developers who, representing CPS Energy, will install and maintain solar systems on residential and commercial rooftops at no cost to the customer. CPS Energy will buy the output, and customer would be paid for the use of the roof.

“We’re excited about the prospect of increasing the amount of rooftop solar in our service territory by making it available to more customers.” said Cris Eugster, executive vice president and chief generation and strategy officer.

Eugster announced the development of the rooftop pilot and a community solar program last October. CPS Energy released a request for proposals for our first community solar project late last year, and we expect to announce a partner by March.

If the rooftop pilot is successful, the plan is to expand it to 25 or even 50 MW over several years. For comparison, since 2007 San Antonio homes and businesses have installed slightly more than 20 MW of photovoltaic rooftop solar.

The rooftop proposal came directly out of meetings last year with the local solar community, and if successful and expanded, could achieve some of our common goals:

  • Expanded access to middle and low income customers: because there is no out of pocket cost to the customer, households and non-profit organizations otherwise unable to afford rooftop solar could reap the benefits.
  • Local preference: the RFP awards additional points for local companies.
  • A stable, predictable market for the local solar industry
  • CPS Energy would be able to continue its support for rooftop solar in a sustainable and more equitable way.

“This program has the potential to bring solar power to the rooftops of people who couldn’t afford it before,” said Anita Ledbetter, interim executive director of Solar San Antonio and executive director of Build San Antonio Green.

Ledbetter previously served as executive director of Solar San Antonio, from 2004 to 2006, before taking the helm at Build San Antonio Green.

CPS Energy Doyle Beneby, left, with Mayor Julian Castro and SAWS Chairman Berto Guerra congratulate Bill Sinkin.

CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby, left, with former Mayor Julian Castro and SAWS Chairman Berto Guerra, congratulating Bill Sinkin in 2012 on the opening of the Bill Sinkin Centennial Solar Farm.

Both were founded by Bill Sinkin, whose vision, said Ledbetter, “was to bring clean power to the people of San Antonio. This program can radically accelerate that.”

“CPS Energy is our utility,” she continued. “It’s owned by us, the people of San Antonio. And the idea of our utility putting solar on our people’s rooftops, instead of building another centralized power plant – it’s a very exciting thing, and Solar San Antonio is very supportive.”

The RFP for rooftop solar is open until Feb.13, and proposals are due March 6. We hope to announce our partner for our first community solar project at around the same time. Community solar differs from the rooftop program in a couple major ways:

  • A solar farm, usually about one megawatt, is built on several acres somewhere in our service territory.
  • Customers purchase units (usually panels) of the farm, and are then credited based on the amount of power their share produces.

Community solar is perfect for customers whose roofs may not be ideal for solar, or for renters, who can move and still receive credit on their bill for the power their share of the community solar farm produces.

In order to smooth the transition from the rebate program to these new initiatives, agreed to extend our rebate program through 2015.

RELATED STORIES:

CPS Energy collaborates on innovative, sustainable rooftop solar program

CPS Energy looking to grow rooftop and community solar

Bill Sinkin’s persuasive power led CPS Energy to support Solar San Antonio

This Post Has 33 Comments
  1. Joeairforce@gmail.com on said:

    Lots of questions as a home owner…
    1) How can we find out if and when we qualify for the rooftop solar program? Is it based on a survey of our house or is the plan only available in certain neighborhoods at first, with more general availability later?
    2) What if our house is already pre-wired for solar, will we receive additional rebates or incentives?
    3) Is the amount of reimbursement a flat rate (e.g. Just renting space on my roof, or are we getting a bill credit for the a portion of the captured energy?)

  2. Tracy Idell Hamilton on said:

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your interest. The answer is, we don’t know yet.

    This program is the first of its kind, and it is a pilot – a test to see if a larger program would be successful.

    Customer eligibility for the program will ultimately be determined by our chosen partner, based on a contract we approve. Once we have negotiated a contract, we will work together to make sure those who are eligible have a chance to be considered.

    Developers have until March 6 to submit a proposal. After that, we will analyze the proposals and interview finalists. Once we identify the company and proposal we feel will have the best chance of success, we will negotiate a final contract. This could take several weeks.

    At the appropriate time, we will work with our partner to publicize the details of the program and identify eligible customers.

    A positive side effect of this early interest is that it may help us determine whether to expand the program. High interest is an indication that we could successfully expand the program and put solar on the rooftops of more customers.

    We thank you for your patience and interest as we work through this process.

  3. Lorelei Lambert on said:

    I am very interested in your solar project. I am on a limited income and my gas and electric bill last month was $378. I can not afford to pay that high bill and can not afford to pay for solar power. For that reason I am very interested in this project. Please keep me in mind for this project. Lorelei Lambert.

    • Christine Patmon on said:

      Hi Lorelei, we are still working on the final details of this plan, so please standby. We’ll be sure to announce it here in the CPS Energy Newsroom when we launch. In the meantime, have you thought about any of our other Ways to Save? Check out our website at cpsenergy.com and search ways to save for customer assistance programs, thermostat options, rebates, and more. We’re here to help.
      Christine

    • Christine Patmon on said:

      Hi Judy, thanks for your interest in our upcoming program. We are still working on the final details, so please keep an eye out. We’ll be sure to announce it here in the CPS Energy Newsroom when we launch. Thanks!
      Christine

  4. Lorelei Lambert on said:

    Is this for real or is it a joke, I myself am not joking, I live on a limited income and I would like to have solar panel placed on my roof but can not afford them, Please send any form I may file in order to receive this benefit your letter does not say yes or No.

    Thank you
    Lorelei Lambert.

    • Christine Patmon on said:

      Hi Khoi, as soon we the details, we’ll share them. We’ll be sure to announce it here in the CPS Energy Newsroom when we launch. So, subscribe to the Newsroom so you can get the news as soon as we release it.
      Christine

    • Christine Patmon on said:

      Hi… thanks for your interest in our solar options. As soon as we’re ready for customers to start signing up, we will let you know here first. So, please subscribe to the Newsroom and keep an eye out in the next couple of months.
      Christine

  5. Jacqueline on said:

    Im following up on inquiring about the solar program including Mobil/manufactured homes, that are owned, and sitting on ‘rented’ land. Will such homes qualify?

  6. Doug McGee on said:

    I’ve been considering installing Solar panels on my home as its situated perfectly for them. This program sounds amazing and I can’t wait to sign up. Can we call into CPS to follow up as to its current availability?
    Thanks

  7. Margaret Scott on said:

    I am definitely interested in solar power and I am looking forward to more details. Hopefully, I will qualify as a low income customer. Thank you.

  8. Irene Mireles on said:

    I have been hearing so much about Solar panels and I am very interested in signing up and representing this great program. We had Casa Verde come to moms house and weatherize the house after my brother passed away a year ago. Mom’s house is warmer in the winter & cooler in the summer. Solar power would be the added touch in the home to assist with our high electric bills!!!
    Mom & I are definitely interested in qualifying or signing up for this amazing program. Hope to hear from program soon. Thank you!!!

  9. Julie A Woods on said:

    Hello am Mrs woods am disabled and live aline its very hard to keep up with bills on a disability income.. I would like to join you project for cos customers solar panels my home is ideal for the panels no trees in the roofs way from sunrise to sun set please consider my home for solar panels thank you Julie woods you can reach me at juliewoods50@gnail.com…again thank you…

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