CPS may deconstruct proposed 100MW solar farm before it's built

Community green centers could take its place

CPS Energy's acting GM Bartlett: Let's get small.

Greg Harman

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At this second day of a two-day workshop geared toward finding the green energy solutions to help San Antonio transition from a carbon-intensive power provider to a leaner, more decentralized utility shifts in thinking within City-owned CPS Energy are already starting to show.

Steve Bartlett, acting general manager for CPS Energy, said the utility will likely withdraw a request for proposals for a 100-megawatt solar power farm and replace it with a variety of solar projects to be located inside San Antonio.

The shift is needed to create the local jobs and community buy-in needed, he said. However, by moving the farm to city rooftops, it closes the door on concentrated solar power to the more traditional photovoltaic arrays, which are a bit pricier.

For that reason, experimentation will be the order of the day, Bartlett said.

That may make a concept floated by San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger's aide Larry Zinn on Monday more attractive to the city.

Zinn said one answer may be turning an inner-city hub like a school into a solar and efficiency center, funneling clean energy and energy conservation education to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Rifkin spoke in support of the concept, saying putting solar at such as location would make it the “community's sun.” The old “centralized solar” concept is “not down here where the people are,” Rifkin added. “`CPS Board President` Aurora `Geis` said to me earlier, â??The schools could be the perfect place.”

Such a center could even provide training for students to perform the energy audits of surrounding homes, Rifkin suggested when the possibility was raised again this morning. “Students could go out in their communities to do energy audits, install advanced meters â?¦ You start from the bottom up,” Rifkin said. “What I'd like is connecting several of them in several parts of the city.”

“I agree with you entirely but we got to start with one,” Zinn replied.

Expect the proposal to be explored by the San Antonio City Council in the near future.


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