Another utility has announced that it will voluntarily launch a limited solar PV feed-in tariff. The municipal utility serving San Antonio, Texas, CPS Energy, will introduce the program in January of the new year.
CPS Energy claims that it is the nation’s largest municipally owned energy company providing both natural gas and electric service. The utility serves 690,000 electric customers.
Like other utilities that have voluntarily proposed feed-in tariffs, the CPS Energy program is extremely limited. Effectively a pilot, the total program is limited to only 10 MW of solar PV.
The annual cap for Gainesville (Florida) Regional Utilities, a much smaller municipal utility, in their solar PV feed-in tariff program is 4 MW.
And while San Antonio’s solar tariff of $0.27 USD/kWh is superior to those among Midwestern utilities in Wisconsin and those proposed in Indiana, it is less than that in Gainesville ($0.32 USD/kWh).
The CPS program also will use 20-year contracts instead of the 10-year contracts found in the Midwest. Industry analysts suggest that 20-year contracts are probably the minimum necessary in North America.
CPS Energy Program Summary
- Contract term: 20 years
- Solar PV tariff: $0.27 USD/kWh
- Pilot program length: 2 years
- Launch: January, 2010
- Project size cap: 250 kW
- Project size threshold: 25 kW
- Program cap: 10 MW
- Targeted rate of return: 3–5%
Like Indianapolis Power & Light’s proposed program, the San Antonio muni specifically excludes homewoners and small businesses through a high threshold of 25 kW.
In contrast, the San Antonio muni’s release said the company is developing 41 MW of solar PV in large, central-station plants outside the city.