Powering Strong Communities

CPS Energy signs deal to provide renewable natural gas for San Antonio’s buses

CPS Energy in San Antonio, Texas, has signed a deal to provide renewable natural gas (RNG) to the city’s mass transit provider.

Under the deal, the public power utility would provide the gas, which will be produced from landfill biogas, to VIA Metropolitan Transit beginning in 2021.

The transit agency will use the gas in its fleet of 502 buses, which are now powered primarily by compressed natural gas (CNG) along with some diesel-electric hybrid, electric, diesel, and propane-fueled vehicles.

As the waste in a landfill decomposes, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, that, unless captured, is released into the air. Renewable natural gas can be created from captured methane and blended with natural gas. CPS Energy said it would distribute the enhanced natural gas through its existing natural gas distribution pipelines.

The gas will be captured from a landfill site in Converse, Texas, at a facility that is being designed, built and will be owned and operated by EDL of Australia, which will inject into CPS’ gas pipeline. The utilities will have to build spur lines to connect its pipeline network to the landfill facility.

CPS Energy has agreed to buy the gas EDL produces. On the other end, VIA Metropolitan Transit has agreed to take the beneficial environmental attributes of the non-fossil fuel gas, known as Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) that are like Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) for fuel. “This is a unique opportunity for CPS,” utility spokesman John Moreno said.

VIA began converting its bus fleet to CNG in 2017 in an effort to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 97% from the diesel buses they replaced. As a vehicle fuel, renewable natural gas also reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 85% compared with diesel fuel vehicles.

The renewable natural gas program is “one more component of our creative Flexible Path strategy, which has been designed to leverage emerging environmental stewardship opportunities, while we keep our customers’ bills affordable and our services reliable,” Paula Gold-Williams, president and CEO of CPS Energy, said in a statement.

In 2019, as part of its Flexible Path strategy, CPS Energy made a commitment to reduce its net emissions profile by 80% by 2040. The utility is also working toward full carbon dioxide neutrality by 2050 in support of the City of San Antonio’s Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP) plan that was endorsed by the utility’s board of trustees in August 2019.

CPS’ Flexible Path also includes initiatives such as its FlexSTEP energy efficiency program In July, as part of its FlexPOWER Bundle initiative, CPS Energy released a request for information to evaluate potential partners that can help the utility in the process of adding up to 900 MW of solar power, 50 MW of battery storage, and 500 MW of new technology solutions.