CPS Energy wants to charge solar fees

Dive Brief:

  • San Antonio municipal utility CPS Energy has proposed $20 million in new rebates to residential solar system buyers but also wants the City Council’s permission to charge a one-time $450 interconnection fee and to add a monthly $1 per kilowatt bill surcharge for solar owners.
  • The monthly fee, which would amount to about $5 per month for owners of average-sized San Antonio systems, would rise to a maximum of $17.50 per month over time while the rebates would phase out.
  • CPS VP/Chief Generation and Strategy Officer Cris Eugster called the proposal "very reasonable" while Solar San Antonio Executive Director Lanny Sinkin said it would “heavily suppress solar sales" and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro said the fees are “in no way a done deal” and asked for more information.

Dive Insight:

This is the latest maneuver by CPS in its ongoing struggle with San Antonio solar advocates over rooftop system incentives.

Last spring, CPS Energy suggested terminating the city’s net energy metering program in favor of a SunCredit “credit per kilowatt-hour” proposal that looked like a value of solar tariff but would have, solar advocates said, undervalued solar and slowed San Antonio’s solar growth.

Sinkin said the new interconnection and “poles and wires” fees will push the payback for solar beyond what would-be buyers are willing to incur and will seriously impede the city’s still “relatively fragile” solar development.

CPS spokeswoman Lisa Lewis said the utility dropped its SunCredit proposal when it understood the proposed cut in credit provided to system owners for electricity sent to the grid was "a big deal breaker" but added CPS still needs a way to make solar growth “fair to all ratepayers.”

CPS estimates it will have 2,234 solar customers by the end of 2014, up from 151 in 2010.

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Top Image Credit: Justin Cozart