San Antonio officials said a planned $30 million public solar energy project affecting dozens of city buildings will generate energy savings for the local government in the long run.

What happened

City Council on Nov. 9 approved what local officials called Texas’ largest municipal on-site solar project, which will involve the installation of rooftop, parking and park canopy solar photovoltaic systems at 42 city facilities.

According to a news release, the city’s newly approved services agreement with local developer Big Sun Solar will also make progress toward San Antonio’s 2040 goal of zero net energy for all municipal buildings.

The takeaway

City officials said the project will yield energy and cost savings, shade and weather protection, and local jobs in the long term:

  • The projected electricity generated annually from the 42 sites is expected to offset an estimated 11% of the city’s current electricity consumption from its buildings.
  • 23 of the installations will be parking canopies that will power on-site municipal operations and provide shade and hail protection to people and vehicles.
  • Big Sun Solar estimates the project will create more than 15 full-time jobs. The company’s collaboration with the St. Phillip’s College Solar Apprenticeship Program will train students in solar energy.
  • Solar installations will begin in spring 2024, with an anticipated completion in the fall of 2026, the release states. The project will be funded with new Inflation Reduction Act incentives, the State Energy Conservation Office LoanStar low-interest loan and local tax dollars.

What they’re saying

Douglas Melnick, the city’s chief sustainability office, said this project will be unique and demonstrate San Antonio’s commitment to advancing clean, renewable energy.

“The launch of this project not only supports the city of San Antonio’s carbon-neutral goal laid out in the SA Climate Ready Climate Action Adaptation Plan, but will be one of the first local government solar deals to combine local and state funding with new federal incentives for clean energy,” Douglas Melnick said in a statement.

City Manager Erik Walsh said this will be the largest local government on-site solar project in Texas and the second-largest in the nation.

“The city of San Antonio is setting a new standard in Texas of what is possible to reduce carbon emissions, adapt to climate change, and ensure San Antonio remains a healthy, vibrant city for generations to come,” Walsh said in a statement.

Jason Pittman, CEO of Big Sun Solar, said his company is honored to be chosen for a project designed to help the city reach its goal of achieving carbon neutrality.

“In addition to rooftop installations, we’ll be creating solar shade canopies at parks and community centers on areas such as basketball and pickleball courts and skate parks,” Pittman said in a statement.