CPS Energy will soon be able to provide enough solar-powered electricity for roughly 36,000 San Antonio homes on a hot Texas day under a new agreement that is part of the utility’s FlexPower Bundle initiative, the utility announced Wednesday.

CPS Energy will add 180 megawatts of solar-powered electricity to its power generation mix after reaching a new deal with independent power producer Kenlov Ashtrom Renewable Energy and its partner and developer, Austin-based OnPeak Power.

The municipally owned utility’s FlexPower Bundle initiative aims to add up to 900 megawatts of solar, 50 megawatts of energy storage and 500 megawatts of “firming capacity” — likely natural gas — over the next 20 years. In May, CPS Energy announced an agreement with Con Edison that would provide 300 megawatts of solar power.

One megawatt can power roughly 200 homes on a hot day.

Diversifying power generation strengthens the local grid and ensures more reliable power for San Antonio residents, said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

“This represents a considerable achievement toward decarbonizing our power generation portfolio and advances our commitment to increasing the quantity of clean, reliable solar energy in San Antonio,” Nirenberg said during a press conference Wednesday.

CPS Energy will purchase power generated at the Tierra Bonita solar farm once it is completed in Pecos County, Texas, early next year. The agreement will add more clean energy to CPS Energy’s power portfolio.

The new agreement will expand CPS Energy’s existing solar portfolio to 1,032 megawatts by 2024 or 2025, utility officials said. An Environment Texas study published in April showed San Antonio ranks first in Texas and fifth in the nation for total solar photovoltaic capacity. 

This new deal is an “extremely critical step” as CPS Energy looks ahead to how to replace aging power plants, said CPS Energy President and CEO Rudy Garza. Over the past 18 months, the utility has been increasingly under pressure to close down its  coal-burning J.K. Spruce power plant.

“I’m trying to get my hands on every megawatt of power we can to support our community,” Garza said.

With San Antonio growing rapidly, its energy infrastructure needs to expand to meet the community’s needs, Garza said. San Antonio is one of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the U.S., according to recent census data.

The utility began actively searching for clean energy partners in 2020, when it formally launched a request for proposals seeking contractors to help it utilize new energy generation and storage technologies.

The agreement with Kenlov Ashtrom Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of independent power producer Kenlov Renewable Energy and Ashtrom Group, a construction and real estate group in Israel, is a 20-year contract, with construction anticipated to begin next year. CPS Energy will be able to begin accessing the solar power from the solar farm in 2024, Garza said.

“This long-term partnership will be the cornerstone to a project that will deliver green power to thousands of people and reduce carbon emissions in the San Antonio metropolitan area,” said Yossi Gvura, CEO of Kenlov Renewable Energy.

CPS Energy is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.