CPS Energy's President and CEO Doyle Beneby today outlined the utility's plans to aggressively seek local solar economic development opportunities while simultaneously fulfilling one of the company's Vision 2020 goals. During a San Antonio Clean Tech Forum at the Witte Museum, Beneby outlined a strategy that includes a request for proposals (RFP) aimed at building up to 50 megawatts (MW) of solar energy. The announcement followed opening remarks by Mayor Julián Castro to a sold out crowd of more than 250 Central and South Texas government, business and community leaders and professionals.
"We plan to use this RFP to attract solar manufacturing or assembly to San Antonio. Collaborating with strong partners such as the City of San Antonio, chambers of commerce, the Economic Development Foundation, Port San Antonio, the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the armed services will provide additional leverage,” said Beneby. “We're aiming for the complete package – a contract that is also ripe with partnerships for research and development, and support for education.”
Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Cris Eugster further detailed the RFP opportunity and other utility key initiatives for 2011. Dr. Les Shephard, director of the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at UTSA, highlighted the importance of research and development for the community's future energy outlook before moderating a question and answer session at the forum.
"I'm very excited about this initiative," said developer Marty Wender. "It shows that CPS Energy is a leader in renewables, but always focused on balancing the economics—keeping our costs low."
Added Austin-based director of Public Citizen Tom "Smitty" Smith: “This is a tremendous opportunity to use the enormous purchasing power of municipal utilities like CPS Energy to create economic growth. Municipal utilities were created to ensure that there was energy to power industry, add jobs and create wealth for the next generation."
“As a municipal utility, we have an obligation to engage in the betterment of our community. If we can deliver service affordably and reliably, and bring economic development to San Antonio, that's an extra win for our community,” Beneby concluded.
In the Vision 2020 plan, CPS Energy's Board of Trustees set a goal of achieving 20 percent of renewable energy capacity in the company's generation mix. The plan requires at least 100 MW be a renewable resource other than wind, such as solar. The utility already is receiving 14 MW from the Blue Wing Solar Farm and has another 30 MW contracted with SunEdison. An additional 50 MW would nearly fulfill the Vision 2020 goal.
CPS Energy currently has a generation mix that is approximately 90 percent traditional fuels and 10 percent renewable resources. Cost-efficient coal and nuclear energy have enabled the company to add renewable resources, while continuing to have some of the lowest bills in the country.
CPS Energy is the nation's largest municipally owned natural gas and electric utility providing service to approximately 707,000 electric customers and 322,000 natural gas customers in and around the City of San Antonio. The utility ranks among the nation's lowest-cost energy providers while ranking number 1 in wind-energy capacity among municipally owned utilities, and number 1 in Texas in the amount of solar-generated electricity under contract.
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