City council members received an earful Wednesday from local solar company owners concerned about CPS Energy’s new SunCredit program.
CPS Energy currently purchases the extra energy customers produce at 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
That rate will go down to 5.6 cents per kilowatt hour after May 31, when the SunCredit program goes into effect.
Business owners asked the council to push the date back to the beginning of next year to allow for more discussion. CPS Energy says the rate change is about fairness.
Under the current net-metering system, solar customers don’t pay infrastructure costs leaving non-solar customers have to foot the bill.
“It’s about equity,” said Christine Patmon of CPS Energy. “The poles, wire, substations, and everything else that we put out in the community for homeowners to have energy, that debt still has to be paid regardless of whether or not you're no longer using as much as you used to.”
Lanny Sinkin, executive director of Solar San Antonio, said the rate change is really a rate increase.
“They're actually going to charge people retail for solar energy that they generate on the machine that they own and then credit them back a little bit for the value of the solar delivered to the system,” Sinkin said. “They’re getting double billed.”
Advance Solar and Electric CEO Don Dickey said the move will put many solar companies like his out of business because customers will have to wait even longer for a return on their investment in solar panels for their home or business.
“The likelihood of being able to have a viable market to be able to sell solar energy in San Antonio after this program goes into effect is very unlikely,” Dickey said. “It’ll take 20 years to pay for itself. You can’t sell that, not with a clear conscience anyway.”
CPS Energy will hold a SunCredit open house on Friday, May 3, at the La Villita Assembly Building from 4 – 6:30 p.m.