CPS Energy offers City Council updates on smart grid, solar

By on June 12, 2014

CPS Energy presented to the San Antonio City Council Wednesday updates on two key projects: CPS Energy’s Smart Grid Initiative and a proposal for revising and expanding the program for distributed solar energy.

Executive Vice President, Chief Generation & Strategy Officer Cris Eugster first gave an overview of the plan to install 740,000 electric meters and 320,000 new gas meters across Greater San Antonio from August 2014 through 2018, as well as the installation of a wireless communications network and other utility infrastructure.

On completion of the project, customers will enjoy greater reliability and privacy, and more information about their energy use, which will help them control their bills. Council members were interested in future services enabled by the smart grid and advocated for robust education for customers. Several suggested that CPS Energy should not offer customers the ability to opt-out, and Eugster pointed to the alignment of the program with industry best practice and Public Utility Commission of Texas guidelines.

Council members also heard a presentation from Eugster on a proposal to expand the plan for solar in San Antonio, including $20 million more in rebates for solar. That’s on top of the $40 million that’s been committed to rooftop solar from 2009 through 2014. The money will come from CPS Energy’s Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP), which is reducing energy use at San Antonio homes and businesses through rebates, energy efficiency, and other measures.

To make solar available to even more customers, CPS Energy is working on a community solar program. Growing in popularity around the country, these programs allow for joint ownership of solar for people who can’t afford their own systems, who rent, or whose own rooftops are not suitable for a system.

Additionally, Eugster presented a recommendation for the separation of solar incentives (rebates and the purchase of excess power produced, known as net metering) from the need to recover the cost of service for solar customers through a one-time connection fee and a monthly charge of 50 cents per kilowatt of capacity (about $2.50 per month, or $30 per year, for the average residential solar installation).

After discussion with Council, we have elected to postpone a vote on these proposed changes and plan to follow up with council members over the next few weeks to answer questions about funding for program expansion, the basis for cost recovery and feedback on efficiency from a range of customers and stakeholders.

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Rhondar on said:

    Texans Against Smart Meters says computer hackers can hack into our computers through our smart appliances…..they also say it’s dangerous radiation and a health hazard. Will these meters give you the ability to turn our appliances off and on?

    Our city council needs to think seriously about the hazards. If people start getting sick there will be lawsuits.

    • Tracy Idell Hamilton on said:

      hi Rhonda,

      There are a lot of myths out there about smart meters. They can’t be used to hack into your computer — they’re not connected to smart appliances. And so NO, they don’t give CPS Energy the ability to turn on or off any of your appliances. The meter records and sends energy use info to us. Re health, they emit far less RF than your cordless phone, microwave, or even baby monitor, which are all inside your home, while meters are outside. You can read about the study we commissioned that looked at the meters we’ll be installing specifically, here: https://newsroom.cpsenergy.com/blog/smart-meters-lower-rf-microwave/

      Already in the US there are more than 47 million smart meters installed, 7 million right here in Texas. They’re part of a growing smart grid, which is essentially an Internet-enabled grid that allows for remote communications. It’s a technological advancement much like the cell phone you almost certainly own. From operators and party lines to land lines to cordless phones to cell phones to smart phones — which by the way also emit RF — we now have the power of computing and constant connection, right in our pockets and purses.

      The smart grid will allow CPS Energy to better manage the flow of power, increase reliability, offer customers more ways to manage the power they buy and make the entire system more efficient. We stand ready to offer you all the information — the facts — you need to help you understand the smart grid. Please let us know if there are any other questions we can answer for you. You can also visit the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative at http://www.whatissmartgrid.org/

      • Will on said:

        I see that my previous comment on here back in 2014 was treated like Secretary Clinton handling the Benghazi affair so I am hereby reposting it. Smart Meters have caused house fires, health problems such as neuropathy, seizures, and cancers. It is a shame that you think smart meters are so great. If you love them so much, go hug them, keep hugging them, and post a youtube video of yourself doing that. WE DON’T WANT THEM. WHAT PART OF THAT DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?

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