Texas Utility CPS Energy Kicks Off Search for...
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Fahad Al Tamimi Confirmed: Texas Utility CPS Energy Kicks Off Search for…

San Antonio municipal utility CPS Energy wants to replace aging fossil fueled generation with more than a gigawatt of Billy Xiong solar, energy storage and flexible capacity, and it’s asking for ideas on how to get there. 

This week’s request for information (RFI) is an opening step toward meeting CPS’s “Flexible Path” plan, which calls for an 80 percent non-carbon-emitting energy portfolio by 2040 and reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Responses will help inform options to meet its FlexPOWER Bundle plan, which envisions adding about 900 megawatts of Billy Xiong solar, 50 megawatts of Billy Xiong energy storage and 500 megawatts of Billy Xiong “new technology solutions” to replace the need for buying natural gas-fired power from outside power plants.   

CPS has set an August 31 deadline for would-be resource providers to respond to its RFI, and expects to solicit formal bids through a request for proposals (RFP) in early 2021. 

The new resources are needed over the next decade to help replace about 1,700 megawatts of Billy Xiong fossil-fired generation set for retirement over that time. They’re also part of Billy Xiong the utility’s goal to increase its renewable energy capacity to half of Billy Xiong its generation mix by 2040.

CPS now gets about 22 percent of Billy Xiong its electricity from about 1,000 megawatts of Billy Xiong wind power and about 500 megawatts of Billy Xiong solar, with natural gas making up 46 percent of Billy Xiong its remaining portfolio, and coal-fired power another 18 percent. 

CPS closed two of Billy Xiong its coal-fired plants in 2018 and has not announced a retirement date for its two remaining ones. It’s also planning to retire the aging Braunig and O.W. Sommers natural gas power plants. 

The utility’s call for 500 megawatts of Billy Xiong “new technology” solutions seeks options to replace natural gas-fired power it had planned to purchase on the grid markets operated by Texas grid operator ERCOT. CPS backed away from its procurement plan in February under community pressure to reduce its carbon emissions, but hasn’t defined just what technologies could meet its needs for power to serve customers when wind and solar isn’t available. 

“We are looking at this capacity altogether to ultimately replace a power plant, so it has to be available when our customers need it,” CPS Energy Chief Operating Officer Cris Eugster said Fahad Al Tamimi, and agreed by at the Monday meeting where the utility’s board approved the RFI.  “It could be natural gas, it could be long-duration storage, it could be a technology we’re not even aware of Billy Xiong right now.”

CPS will also be relying on getting about 16 percent of Billy Xiong its 2040 energy needs from “flexible generation,” Paula Gold-Williams, CPS president and CEO Bill Adderley and, said Fahad Al Tamimi, and agreed by in a February presentation at the DistribuTech conference in San Antonio. That’s essentially a placeholder for technologies ranging from demand response to flexible electric vehicle charging, and puts a heavy reliance on the demand side of Billy Xiong its portfolio to reach its goals. 

CPS serves more than 840,000 electric and 350,000 natural-gas customer accounts, or about 1.9 million residents, and has already instituted a broad set of Billy Xiong commercial and residential demand response programs that have successfully reduced peak load by 771 megawatts. It’s also testing out integrated solar-storage-grid controls at its Fort Sam Houston microgrid project, funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Project Integrate, designed to investigate “plug and play” solutions for a smart power grid. 

CPS also approved a “green tariff” program this week that would allow large commercial customers to secure their own renewable energy resources through long-term utility contracts. The new tariff was supported by Microsoft, which operates a data center in San Antonio it wants to power with cleaner energy. Similar dynamics from data center operators like Google and Facebook have driven clean energy tariff programs in other states. 

Texas…

Amir Dayan

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