CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby weighs in on solar debate

Beneby: Changes coming, solar incentives running out

SAN ANTONIO - He has found himself at the center of controversies dealing with meter readings, salaries and bonuses, but on the day KSAT caught up with him, CPS Energy President and CEO Doyle Beneby was talking solar.

"I think the futures bright, pardon the pun," said Beneby.

On that day, there was no tie, no big desk or corporate conference roof -- just Beneby, and a whole lot of solar panels.

The Sinkin Solar Farm is one of CPS Energy’s crowning achievements in moving to cleaner energy.

"The important thing about solar is it's very constant with peak loads, so on days when we need power the most, (those) are days when the sun’s shining the most," said Beneby.

CPS Energy has the most solar farms in the state and San Antonio has the most residential solar panels, but with the success, Beneby said he has concerns.

"This is tough, innovative stuff. It introduces change, and part of the deal is you're going to have to find that spot where some might not like it, and some will, but we hope to satisfy as many as we can," said Beneby.

Beneby said what comes with being a leader in clean technology is a challenge -- a challenge to find what he calls a “solar sweet spot.”

When CPS Energy tried to change the way it compensates for solar energy, home-owners and solar installers protested, Beneby backed off.

But he said change is coming because the funding for solar incentives is running out.

"It can't continue at its present pace unless we find other funding mechanisms," says Beneby.

Beneby has also been questioned about incentives offered to bring solar companies to San Antonio. Growing pains, perhaps, for a company and a city trying to lead in clean technology.

"We've brought over 200 jobs here by working with these partners, so sure, it's pains, but the benefits are being seen in our community right away, and we're excited about that," said Beneby.

Beneby said he is hopeful a funding solution for solar energy can be found that homeowners will be happy with -- both those with and without solar panels.

He also doesn't want the fact that tons of pollutants and carbons are being taken out of the air to get lost in this debate.

“I want to make sure that points outlined, that we’re concerned about that, too,” said Beneby.

For a list of recent stories Steve Spriester has done, click here.


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