Wednesday, September 23, 2015

San Antonio's Energy Utility Offers Unique Solar Program

Image from SolarHostSA
"What does it mean to be a solar host? Much like private ownership of solar systems, a homeowner or business would “host” a solar system on their roof. The difference with SolarHosting is that the homeowner or business owner, YOU, would not pay anything at all to have the system installed and maintained.

"This means that you don’t have to afford solar in order to see the benefits of the solar generation. It also means that as a CPS Energy customer, you would be doing your part to help the community meet our Renewable Energy Goals. That means that CPS Energy won’t have to build another traditional power plant. Instead, your rooftop along with all of the other hosts’ will be the power plant. Pretty cool right!?"

Pretty cool indeed. It's a program in San Antonio called SolarHostSA. SolarHostSA is a pilot project launched by PowerFin Partners and CPS Energy, the nation's largest municipally owned energy utility. It "will allow participants to host PV systems on their rooftops in exchange for credits on their energy bill." Read more from PV Magazine HERE.

Obviously San Antonio's utility gets it. They won't have to build more traditional power plants because rooftop solar will be the power plants. To be sure home and business owners will not own the panels - they will, as the program says, host the panels. I sure would have liked to have been the sales person at PowerFin who worked out this deal.

I don't want to praise CPS too much. It was only yesterday that they admitted to a large crowd of angry people that they had overcharged them with smart meters. Nevertheless they are finding innovative ways to produce and save energy at low customer rates. One of their more innovative products (and this should be a no-brainer even for Shockley and Kipp) are electric vehicle charging stations. 

El Paso is probably stuck with EPEC for the foreseeable future. After all, the City can't just take over the utility à la People's or Banana Republic style. You can also imagine what would happen if, in some improbable fashion, the City managed to purchase EPEC. Imagine how much your property taxes would skyrocket then. Larry Romero could pave all sorts of streets for his cronies. It just would be good to see EPEC adopt a business plan that incentivized solar and found more products to sell and make their shareholders happy - and their customers too.

To be sure, CPS Energy is also trying to maintain control of solar energy by using homes and businesses as production stations. Besides SolarHostSA there is another program for those without photovoltaic panels to buy "shares" in a solar farm and receive credit on their bills. The more shares owned, the more credit. CPS's solar programs will mean lower rates for customers.

I may be wrong, but I'm sure that SolarHostSA users will not be able to save the electricity they produce with batteries. CPS is not wanting people to get off their grid. Still it must be conceded that, in time, all utilities to one degree or another will either be obsolete or redundant. Bettter home energy storage technology is on its way. And one day the pricing will be quite affordable. 

Next let's look at Houston where the electrical customer can choose among different power companies and see how those companies promote alternative energy especially photovoltaics.

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