CPS Energy plans to launch its Solartricity Producer Program, a market-based initiative that could attract hundreds of small-to-large-scale solar energy-generating projects in the Greater San Antonio area, in January 2010.

“CPS Energy has embraced solar as part of a long-term transition to distributed generation,” said Cris Eugster, CPS Energy’s executive vice president and chief sustainability officer. “Distributed generation refers to the production of electricity by those with solar, wind and other renewable-energy systems scattered throughout the CPS Energy grid. With the addition of the Solartricity Producer program, we can offer solar- energy options for our small, medium and large customers.”

Eugster said CPS Energy plans to begin accepting Solartricity Producer applications in January 2010. Applicants with solar-energy systems that produce 25 to 500 kW will be eligible for the program. CPS Energy will accept applications over a two-year period and will seek to add up to 5 MW of solar production in each of those two years.

“We plan to attract 20 to 400 Solartricity producers that will collectively produce 10 MW of electricity that CPS Energy will purchase,” Eugster said. “This distributed-generation model will be consistent with CPS Energy’s Vision 2020 and the City of San Antonio’s Mission Verde.”

Solartricity producers will be responsible for the cost involved in purchasing, installing and maintaining their own solar-energy systems, Eugster explained. Preliminary plans call for Solartricity producers to sign 20-year agreements to sell solar energy at a rate of 27 cents per kWh to CPS Energy. The company’s net investment of 10 MW is estimated at an annual cost of $2.3 million. To help fund the project, CPS Energy plans to establish a Solartricity program similar to Windtricity that will allow the utility to sell solar energy at a retail price to residential and commercial customers.

“Just like a business buys raw material from a wholesaler to make a product, CPS Energy plans to purchase energy from wholesale Solartricity producers and sell it to customers as Solartricity,” said Lynda Rodriguez, manager of Solutions Marketing.

“Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are part of our overall strategy to meet Greater San Antonio’s energy needs with diversified sources,” Eugster said. “With 41 MW, CPS Energy has the most solar-generated electricity under contract in the state of Texas. We are already number 1 nationally in wind-energy capacity among municipally owned utilities.”