Currently working on contracting with a third party to install solar panels, free of charge to its customers, CPS Energy is gearing up for its new “Rent the Roof” solar program in San Antonio, Texas. The pilot program, set to launch in mid-2015, is still in the request-for-proposals (RFP) phase, evaluating contractor proposals for installing the solar rooftop panels.

CPS Energy Also Offers Enough Rent “To Get People Interested”

Raiford Smith, vice president of corporate development and planning at CPS Energy, speaking to KSAT12 Reporter Jenna Hiller, explained, “We have this purchase power agreement where essentially we will contract with a third party to install solar panels, essentially at no charge to the customer.”

Around 300-400 homes are expected to be signed up for the one megawatt solar energy generation pilot program. San Antonio resident Oscar Samano told Hiller that he would sign up for the CPS Energy program, “if he could avoid the roughly $30,000 cost of installing panels on his own.” Samano related, “I have a large awning and a large roof. It’s a three-bedroom house.” He continued, “We don’t have room for the wind turbines, so solar panels would be the best project.”

In exchange for a contract with CPS Energy to buy the output for the 15-year expected lifetime of solar panels, homeowners will receive free installation, and a monthly rent payment in the form of a credit on their CPS Energy bill. Although it has not yet been determined how much “rent payment” customers will receive, the utility company has said “it would be enough to get people interested.”

Planned Growth to 50MW Community Rooftop Solar

Since 2007, reports CPS Energy, just over 20MW solar generation has already been installed on San Antonio home and business rooftops. “We’re excited about the prospect of increasing the amount of rooftop solar in our service territory by making it available to more customers.” said Cris Eugster, executive vice president and chief generation and strategy officer. If successful, the 1MW community rooftop pilot program will be expanded to 25 or even 50 MW over the next few years.

Anita Ledbetter, interim executive director of Solar San Antonio and executive director of Build San Antonio Green said, “This program has the potential to bring solar power to the rooftops of people who couldn’t afford it before.” Ledbetter continued, “CPS Energy is our utility. It’s owned by us, the people of San Antonio. And the idea of our utility putting solar on our people’s rooftops, instead of building another centralized power plant – it’s a very exciting thing, and Solar San Antonio is very supportive.”