San Antonio is one of the leading cities for solar energy in the United States, with photovoltaic systems on nearly 2,500 roofs and a solar farm in the works that will power the equivalent of 70,000 homes.
Leading the effort is Doyle Beneby, the CEO of the city-owned utility, CPS Energy, which not only instituted a rooftop solar program that provides rebates for homeowners installing PV systems, but also negotiated deals with companies such as OCI Solar Power, the developer of the 400 megawatt solar farm.
That arrangement with OCI Solar Power is the largest economic development agreement between a municipal utility and a private company in the U.S., one that promises to create 800 permanent jobs once it's completed in 2016.
Taken together, the solar energy advances in San Antonio are part of CPS Energy's Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan, which aims to reduce growth in the community's electricity needs by 770 megawatts by 2020, or the equivalent of a large power plant.
Now, CPS Energy is experimenting with a new pilot program that it says will make rooftop solar available to more San Antonio residents, including low-income households where PV panels are noticeably absent.