55ºF

Homeowners can rent their roofs for solar energy

CPS Energy pilot program gives credit on monthly bills

SAN ANTONIO – Myra Garcia is about to cash in on the sunshine.

"I think it's really about time for San Antonio to go solar," she said.

She's going solar by renting her roof. Crews were busy Thursday installing a couple dozen large solar panels on the roof of  her South Side house, the first for SolarHost, CPS Energy's pilot program with PowerFin Partners.

"The upfront cost of solar has been a financial barrier," said Jason Pittman, vice president of PowerFin Partners.

Upfront costs can be upwards of $10,000 after rebates for homeowners who purchase solar panels.

In this program, they pay nothing.

"We come in, we provide all the capital, we buy the equipment, we install it on their rooftop, we operate it and we maintain it long term," Pittman said.

That can be 20 years.

The property owner is paid three cents for each kilowatt hour generated, and it is credited to their monthly CPS Energy bill.

The amount will depend on the size of the roof. It comes out to approximately $20 a month, according to SolarHost.

The energy generated by the panels does not directly power the house they are on. Rather the energy feeds into the CPS Energy grid.

"It's important to have not only traditional sources, natural gas and coal, but it's important to explore renewables and what that means," said Paul Flaningan with CPS Energy.

The program caught the interest of homeowners when it was announced in September and so far has received 4,000 applications. Still, Pittman said they need more.

Homes have to qualify for the program, including having sufficient southern to western sun exposure and very little shade. The roof should also be less than 10 years old.

For more information about the program visit SolarHostSA.com.

"Now it's accessible to areas of San Antonio that couldn't adopt solar before," Pittman said. "Driving through this neighborhood, it's essentially a solar desert."

There are about 28,000 homes in the CPS Energy service area that have solar equipment, and most of those are on the North Side.

"I always  wanted it," Garcia said. "I think we need it in our city, but the cost is something I could never afford."

Now she is glad to be going green and saving some, too.

SolarHost plans to install panels on 850 homes in the next year as well as 50 to 75 commercial properties.


About the Author: