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CPS Energy President and CEO Rudy Garza Raises Supply Chain Concerns Tied to DERs

The growth in the development of technologies such as solar farms or battery storage will face some limitations due to supply chain constraints, Rudy Garza, President and CEO of San Antonio, Texas-based public power utility CPS Energy said on March 31.

He made his comments during a recent U.S. Energy Association briefing related to challenges facing distributed energy resources and virtual power plants.

“Whether it’s solar farms or battery storage or whatever the case might be, I think the growth in the development of these technologies will absolutely face some limitations from a supply chain standpoint because I don’t think our supply chain issues will go away for the next probably two to three years,” he said.

Garza noted that CPS Energy has been “talking about virtual power plants through our Save for Tomorrow energy plan, which is our energy efficiency and conservation program, for ten years.”

He noted that while VPP has become “a trendy topic across the country,” it is something “we’ve been involved in for quite some time now.”

Virtual power plants, generally considered a connected aggregation of distributed energy resource technologies, offer deeper integration of renewables and demand flexibility, the Department of Energy notes on its website.

“We know that we’ve got three hundred megawatts – give or take – of distributed energy resources in San Antonio right now. We know individually that they’re placed in locations where they’re not going to cause issues on our distribution grid,” Garza said. “But if that became three thousand megawatts, obviously we’d be in a much different situation.”

He noted that “we’re actually working with some technology partners to figure out how to model the distribution planning work that we have to do to really create that future energy bank that will exist as market signals are being sent, as rates are developed that monetize distributed resources in a way that looks like a central station.”  

Garza added that “our operations centers will look much different because we’ll need screens that will show us where the solar is, where the batteries are, where the demand response is.”

In January, the Board of Trustees for CPS Energy voted to approve a generation planning portfolio that includes a blend of gas, solar, wind and energy storage.