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CPS Energy collaborates on innovative, sustainable rooftop solar program
By Cris Eugster, Executive Vice President and Chief Generation and Strategy Officer on October 9, 2014
We are pleased to announce that with the support of the local solar industry, CPS Energy is moving forward on a pair of next generation solar programs that could dramatically increase the amount of rooftop solar powering San Antonio, broaden customer participation and keep rates affordable for all customers.
We have spent the last two years searching for a way to create such a model, discussing ideas and getting feedback from solar stakeholders. That effort culminated in the creation of an innovative and economical approach to expanding rooftop solar.
We believe CPS Energy is among the first utilities in the nation to collaborate with its local solar community in creating a sustainable distributed solar model.
The program will create power purchase agreements with developers who will contract with residential, commercial, and industrial customers to install distributed solar at no cost to the customer. Customers would then get a monthly credit on their bills for allowing their rooftops to be used for the solar system.
We will begin with a relatively small pilot of the program, with an eye toward expansion if it is successful.
In addition to that pilot, we are also releasing, later this month, our first request for proposals for a one megawatt community solar project, which would allow customers who cannot install solar on their own roofs to buy a share of a larger system and reap the benefits.
We have also agreed to extend our rebate program through 2015.
These new initiatives add to our already robust utility scale and rooftop rebate programs, which have propelled San Antonio to 6th in the nation for installed solar capacity.
Three years ago, CPS Energy envisioned utility-scale solar projects that would be tied to the development of solar manufacturing here in San Antonio as a means to establish a domestic hub for solar activity and promote clean generation resources.
Today, that vision is a reality, with highly efficient solar panels and other components now being manufactured here in San Antonio. They’re being used for the utility-scale solar farms being built to supply CPS Energy with 400 megawatts of clean, renewable solar power, and eventually will be available for residential and commercial use.
Already we have more than 130 MW of utility scale solar online, producing clean, carbon-free power for our community.
Now we’re bringing that same focus to our rooftop solar program. Since 2008, we have awarded roughly $40 million in rebates to customers to reduce the costs of their rooftop solar systems. The result? San Antonio now boasts almost 20 MW of rooftop solar – more than any other city in Texas.
We believe our new programs will expand solar access even further, and we appreciate the participation of our local solar industry in helping us devise these sustainable, next generation models.
Laurence Doxsey, chairman of the Solar San Antonio board of directors told us they “look forward to working together to bring solar to many more people in San Antonio.”
We do too.
This upcoming year will be a busy one as we scale up distributed solar, both rooftop and community solar projects, in San Antonio. We are excited to be developing innovative models that bring certainty and long-term sustainability to distributed generation in our service area.