The sun is ripe for harvesting in San Antonio. The numbers bear it out: San Antonio ranks as one of the nation's top 10 cities for solar production and solar energy potential.
But solar in SA will soon change. Funds for the industry-leading rebate from CPS Energy, which engendered so much growth, may evaporate. And almost simultaneously, CPS plans to launch a pilot program that would allow customers to lease out their rooftops to the utility in exchange for a discount on their bill.
The moves have created a deep rift in San Antonio's solar energy community. A group of solar installers argue that CPS' actions will put them out of business, stifle innovation, limit consumer choice and create a solar monopoly. CPS officials counter that the idea is to take solar to as many people as possible.
"All the installations now require the consumer to come up with a lot of up-front cash to participate and that really limits it to … a small number of folks," Raiford Smith, vice president of corporate development and planning for CPS, told the San Antonio Current. "How do we broaden that appeal?"
The debate has ramifications for the entire solar industry. As the nation's largest publicly-owned utility, CPS' actions could set a new precedent for the booming technology. Members of the solar community across the country are watching San Antonio to see what happens, according to Kim Sanders, a spokesperson for the Alliance for Solar Choice, a national solar industry group.
"There's a concerted attempt by utilities across the country to undermine effectively what is the first competition they've seen in quite some time," Sanders said. "Utilities are probably egging one another on trying to see these programs through."
Source: Solar Monopoly Or Democracy? CPS To Shift SA Solar Landscape | News Etc. | San Antonio Current