San Antonio-based utility CPS Energy says it is ‘refining the formula’ it uses to provide rebates for solar installations in its service area. The revisions are designed to take into account CPS' costs to maintain and upgrade its electric transmission and distribution systems in a way that is equitable for all customers.
To date, generous rebates and a net metering program from CPS Energy have led to almost 1,000 rooftop solar installations in the utility's Greater San Antonio service territory. But the current net metering program places a higher cost burden for infrastructure on customers without solar systems, according to CPS. To address the continued growth, CPS Energy is planning to launch SunCredit, a price-per-kWh plan that will reflect the annual average forecast market price of solar.
The change will not impact CPS Energy rebates for solar systems, but it will adjust the amount those customers are paid per kilowatt-hour for the energy their systems produce. Currently, CPS Energy pays an average $0.09/kWh, but that does not take into account the costs to maintain and expand other infrastructure. For 2013, the SunCredit is proposed at $0.056/kWh.
‘Costs to install photovoltaic systems continue to fall, making them increasingly available for more customers,’ says Cris Eugster, executive vice president and chief strategy and technology officer at CPS Energy. ‘And with that growth, the costs of the utility infrastructure are borne by fewer customers – those who don't have solar systems.’
The SunCredit is proposed to begin November 1 and will be evaluated and adjusted annually to account for changing market prices for generation. Current solar customers and those who apply for interconnection prior to April 26 will be grandfathered to continue on the net metering program through 2023.
CPS Energy will host a public feedback session May 3 and accept customer feedback on the proposed SunCredit program structure.