Nexolon America Wednesday announced the next phase of its solar manufacturing project in San Antonio. The company that broke ground last year expects to 400 employees are expected to be hired beginning in Sept.
Nexolon America is working with the Alamo Colleges to develop a training program for new employees to build 200 megawatts of solar modules per year. Executive Vice-President Scot Arey said the company is expecting to start advertising in about a month for its first wave of hiring.
National forecasters are predicting another hotter-than-normal summer. That could mean more of the rolling blackouts likes those San Antonio experienced in 2011.
Climatologists predict temperatures will be above normal this year and the power grid may not be able to keep up. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation projects the Texas grid will have the lowest percentage of power reserves this summer of any region in the country.
The problem is rapidly-growing demand combined with a lack of new power plants being built.
The announcement that CPS Energy is considering changing the amount of money it would reimburse its solar generating customers - cutting it by nearly 40 percent - caused more than a stir in the solar community.
CPS Energy is replacing its solar credit system that pays solar energy users with another program that pays slightly less, leaving some solar energy organizations and customers outraged.
CPS Energy customers currently pay 9.9 cents per kilowatt used, but people with solar energy on their home or business receive the same 9.9 cents back as a credit on their bill for every kilowatt they generate in a process called net-metering.
Today CPS Energy and city officials joined OCI Solar Power executives in a toast to the first phase of construction on a mega solar power agreement that promises 800 jobs for the city over several solar farm locations.
Officials made a ceremonial first dig with shovels at the site of Alamo I, the first solar farm location, to symbolize the massive construction project that has already begun.
South of Loop 410 and IH-37, Alamo I will soon be buzzing with hundreds of solar panels that will generate 41 megawatts.
Since 2011, CPS Energy has been able to send out mass alerts to customers when widespread power outages occurred, coordinated by zip code.
But now their system is more sophisticated, and will notify individual customers when power outages more than 15 minutes occur at their specific address.
CPS spokeswoman Yvonne Casanova said the system will continue to be tested through the end of February. Over the next week or so, during regular business hours, customers who have signed up for alerts on the CPS website should receive a test message.
According to one nonprofit company, San Antonio and Austin generate the vast majority of solar energy produced in the state. As the expansion of solar moves across Texas, both cities are emerging as solar front runners.
San Antonio and Austin combined for 85 percent of the state’s solar energy installations. That’s according to a report from Environment Texas.
Although it may be a mild winter -- even by San Antonio standards -- customers of CPS Energy, the city’s electric company, are experiencing huge spikes in their bills, specifically January.
CPS Energy confirmed staffing of meter readers has dropped, which contributed to increased estimated meter reads. The utility's Christine Patmon said staff members who are retiring are not being replaced, and the it recently finished negotiating contracts for meter readers.