New solar project makes San Antonio energy goal shine

solar project in San AntonioAn almost 20-megawatt solar installation at the Dos Rios Water Recycling Center has catapulted San Antonio, Texas to the no.1 spot in the state for solar. The city is ahead of the rest of Texas with a total of 34.2 megawatts of installed solar, said CPS Energy spokesman John Moreno.

But the utility isn’t stopping there. Moreno said CPS has a goal of reaching 1,500 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. That’s a bold goal, but one CPS is looking to meet early. Moreno said CPS will probably announce the completion for another 10-megawatt solar installation within the next week or two. That’s in addition to 1,059 megawatts of wind generation.

The utility is also in negotiations with OCI Solar to install another 400 megawatts of solar. That will land CPS at its goal. Moreno said the 400 megawatts on the drawing board will not all go in one space, but will be spread out across multiple locations.

The reasons for the strong push toward renewable energy sources are many. “We want to maintain a diversified portfolio,” Moreno said. “It’s a cliché, but we just don’t want to put all of our eggs in one basket. This is a hedge against changing EPA regulations and fines.”

CPS has shifted its focus from wind energy generation to solar photovoltaics because they are becoming more reasonable and because they add to the diversity of the utility’s portfolio.

The price of solar has been dropping dramatically in recent years, Moreno said. “We’re able to lock in contracts for solar.  We’re getting costs down to levels that are really reasonable for us.”

The project CPS opened this week is a 19.8-megawatts solar installation at a water treatment facility. It will produce enough electricity to power 2,550 average Texas homes annually. The installation was named for Bill Sinkin, a solar advocate known for wearing bowties. In his honor, the ribbon CPS staff and San Antonio leadership cut was bowtie shaped.

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