A Lone Star leader in solar
Doyle Beneby is a leader among U.S. utility executives when it comes to promoting solar energy, and he has the bruises to show for it.
As the chief executive of CPS Energy in San Antonio since 2010, Beneby has made solar a priority for generating electricity and new jobs in Texas’ second largest city.
In fact, San Antonio boasts the most solar generating capacity of any city in the Lone Star State and ranks seventh among major U.S. cities, with 134 megawatts from utility-scale solar farms and 24 megawatts from solar panels on its customers’ roofs.
As for new jobs, CPS says more than 700 have resulted, including those associated with a new plant that manufactures solar panels.
That said, his tactics have come under attack from some solar-panel installers, especially his efforts to manage the expansion of rooftop systems across the city.
Now, as he prepares to leave CPS for a new job, Beneby has advice for both his peers in the electric-utility sector who see rooftop solar as a threat to their business as well as solar installers who say the industry isn’t moving fast enough to adopt the green choice.
“To be quite honest, you can’t please all of your solar constituents at once. But at the end of the day, utilities have to listen to their customers,” Beneby said in an interview. “Our customers want more solar, so it’s just a matter of how you devise a strategy that allows them to participate.”
As for companies that install solar systems on residential and commercial properties, Beneby cautions that U.S. utilities like his have operated for decades under government mandates that require them to provide universal access to electricity across their service areas, and enable them to profit from building power plants to meet that obligation.