CPS announces plans to bring nearly 1 GW of solar to Texas

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Nearly 1 GW of solar could be coming to San Antonio in the next few years, as CPS Energy has released a Request for Information (RFI) that will help in the development of a future Request for Proposal (RFP), one which the utility claims will bring a “historic” amount of renewable energy to its generation portfolio.

This early-stage documents and corresponding procurement figures are all coming as part of CPS’ Flexible Path vision, one which includes a goal of achieving 50% renewable generation by 2040. This RFI is just one of the initiatives brought forth by Flexible Path and, to keep consistent with the brand, has been dubbed the FlexPOWER Bundle.

According to CPS, the upcoming RFP will seek to add up to 900 MW of solar, 50 MW of battery storage, and 500 MW of “new technology solutions.” These resources are being brought on-line not only in pursuit of the 50% by 2040 goal, but also to supplement 1,700 MW of aging generation capacity.

The standout figure here is the 900 MW of new solar generation, which is a considerable level of procurement for a single utility over just one RFP. Equally as interesting, however, is the disparity between solar capacity additions and planned storage additions. CPS is looking to supplement 900 MW of new solar with just 50 MW of storage, a strange 18/1 ratio.

The plan also includes 500 MW of “new technology solutions,” which initially gave off the impression that this capacity might be reserved for long-duration storage technologies, ones that are not yet commercially viable, but may be by the intended time of development. Later in the RFP, CPS clarifies that these 500 MW will be reserved for firming capacity, which could mean anything from additional battery storage projects, to new peaking gas plants, to pumped hydro storage, though, considering CPS’ location in Texas, that last option is exceedingly unlikely.

Regardless of the final storage capacity, this RFI marks another massive solar expansion in Texas, a state that is undergoing a rapid boom in renewable development. The state is currently home to roughly 4,600 MW of installed capacity, good for 5th in the nation. That number is expected to rise drastically over the next five years, with SEIA predicting that the state will add 14,466 MW over that time, good for second in the nation. With singular RFP’s being released that represent 20% of all installed capacity in one of the stronger solar markets in the country, that 14 GW benchmark becomes more realistic than ambitious.