CPS Energy begins next phase in generation pathway

CPS Energy, the public power utility serving San Antonio, Texas, has launched the next phase of its pathway for building out its generation portfolio over the next 20 years.

In a July 10 announcement, Paula Gold-Williams, president and CEO of CPS Energy, announced “Power BundleFlex,” calling it a “blended energy approach” through which the utility will consider adding more incremental capacity.

“The Power BundleFlex is a diversified solution set that recognizes today’s renewables alone cannot support all of the community’s customers consistently and reliably, 24/7/365,” Gold-Williams said in a statement.

CPS Energy put forward a “general framework” of the components of its Power BundleFlex program for consideration by its community members and stakeholders.

The framework includes the potential addition of 300 MW to 900 MW of solar power, both through power purchase agreements and through solar farms that would be owned and operated by CPS Energy.

The framework also calls for CPS Energy to own 10 MW to 50 MW of energy storage facilities.

And, in order to improve the reliability and consistency of solar power while offsetting the “probable higher costs of energy storage,” the plan calls for CPS Energy to buy between 300 MW and 500 MW of gas fired generation on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas market.

The Power BundleFlex proposal was designed “to ensure the community can move forward, while maximizing the existing community-owned generation assets, which are powered by gas, coal, solar, wind and nuclear sources,” Gold-Williams said.

“This is the beginning of a process where we are engaging the community again to get their feedback on what they want their generation portfolio to be over the next few years,” CPS Energy spokeswoman Melissa Sorola said.

In March 2018, CPS Energy rolled out its Flexible Path program that maps out the company’s energy portfolio out to 2040. The program calls for a greater reliance on renewable energy resources, the repowering of two older coal plants, the accelerated closure of a coal plant, extending the life a some combined-cycle gas-fired plants, and the addition of 4,100 MW of renewables and 550 MW of battery storage.

Shortly after CPS Energy launched the Flexible Path program, it began a series of community engagement and public comment sessions. That process is still under way.

In similar fashion, CPS Energy is now seeking public comment on its Power BundleFlex program. “We had great success with the Flexible Path last year,” Sorola said. “We are going to start that again.”

One of the first steps CPS Energy is taking is the launch of a survey on its proposed Power BundleFlex program in order to receive preliminary feedback. “This is the start of this process with our community,” Sorola said. The process does not have a set deadline. “It is fluid and flexible,” she said.