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Solar Power Rocks

Clear info on home solar power rebates, tax credits, and other benefits

Overall Ranking

B

Average Savings

$42

Yes, Texas Allows for Solar Leasing!

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Welcome to the Texas solar power information page

Note: The numbers above are just estimates for a 5kW solar system, and your home is unique. The best way to know exactly how much money solar power can save you is to connect with one of our partners nearby. A friendly solar expert we trust will give you a buzz and help you craft a personal plan to get the absolute most out of a solar power system for your home. It's 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you aren't obligated to buy anything.

The Lone Star State certainly is a loner when it comes to renewable energy policy. Bucking the nationwide trend toward more statewide regulation to support solar power, Texas has done almost nothing on the legislative front. Only a minimal Renewables Portfolio Standard, no tax credits, no statewide rebates, not even net metering!

Utility rebates are saving the day to some extent, but we’ve already seen some of those rebate programs close their doors because they’re generating all the renewable energy they need to meet those minimal state goals. Texas is going to have to get back on it, and fast. If more rebate programs fill up, there will be virtually no solar power incentives here whatsoever.

Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $4,000/kW! This is paired with the Texas solar incentives you see below.

Electric Bill Before Solar

$160

Electric Bill After Solar

$70

Est. Solar Payment

$48

Average savings

$42

First, take a look at a typical electric bill before considering solar power. That's a nasty outlay of cash. Imagine what you could do with all that immediate savings above every month.

As a result of what state legistlatures in leasing states have accomplished, you could instead save a bunch of cash. Imagine getting this bill in the mail instead. Whew!

Now, while you have a drastically cut back power bill, you also have a solar lease payment. Essentially, you're renting out your rooftop to a company who then pimps it out with solar panels. Then, you pay a lease payment to them for the power it produces. In each case, this payment added to your existing power bill will be lower than your previous bill, netting you instant savings with nothing down out of pocket! How awesome is that?!

Leasing vs. Buying If you decide not to go with the leasing option, we've calculated the amount of time it would take for your home solar panel system to pay for itself if you put up the cost of the install out of pocket or financed it yourself. This calculation (see the bottom of the page under "5kw Solar System Purchase Payback Time") takes into account all the rest of the incentives below, and assumes you meet all the criteria to take advantage of them (e.g. - having a tax appetite, south facing roof with limited shade, etc.)

RPS

3% by 2015 (exceeded)

Grade: B

A Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires utilities in the state to eventually source at least a certain percentage of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like solar panels.

Normally an RPS is constructed around percentages of total energy generation, but in Texas the RPS targets specific amounts of electricity produced, measured in megawatts (MW). The Texas RPS was first passed in 1999 with a target of 2,000 MW of energy from renewable resources. In 2005, the legislature increased the requirement to 5,880 MW by 2015 and set a voluntary goal of growing this capacity to 10,000 MW by 2025. Texas had already surpassed their 2025 goal by 2009 though, and has yet to up their standards. As of 2009, Texas boasts a renewable energy capacity of 13,359 MW.

While that figure may seem like a lot, those 13,359 MW will represent a measly 3.25% of Texas’ total energy use in 2012. In fact, Texas leads the country in total energy consumption, which may seem unsurprising given its size. Yet, the Lone Star State still ranks in the top five for energy consumption when distributed per capita. For any state, but especially one that is as power hungry as Texas, 3.25% is far too low of a goal. We’ve seen other high-population, high-energy demand states like New York (30% by 2015) and California (33% by 2022) set much loftier goals.

Texas’s RPS is critical to strong renewable energy policy. Utility companies aren't really all that gung-ho about you producing your own power. After all, it costs them money when you use less of their electricity. They also don’t naturally want to give you big payments for energy you're feeding back into the grid. The main reason the utilities are aiding your transition to lower electric bills and offering you incentives to put solar on your roof is because the state forces them to. If the utilities don't hit their RPS numbers, they have to pay large fees back to the state.

What's an RPS? Your state legislature paves the way for strong solar energy incentives to flourish by setting standards for renewable energy generation within their territories. Those standards are called the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). If utility companies do not meet these standards, they must pay alternative compliance fees directly to the state. Many utilities then determine the best ways to source their energy from renewable sources that are less expensive than this fee.

An RPS is a mandate that says "Hey utilities! Y'all now have to make a certain percentage of your electricity from renewable sources. If not, you'll have to pay us huge fines." The consequences are good, because utilities usually try to meet these RPS standards by creating solar power incentives for you, the homeowner.

RPS solar carve out

None

Grade: None

Though Texas requires at least 500 MW of their 2015 goal come from renewable resources other than wind (since about 96% of their renewable energy was sourced from wind in 2013), they do not specify that it must come from solar and this target remains largely voluntary. If the RPS contained specific carve-outs for clean and efficient technologies like solar panels, or mandates for the environmentally necessary increases in distributed generation, you’d see even stronger incentives for residential solar power.

What's a solar set aside? A solar set aside guarantees a specific portion of the overall renewable energy mix generated comes from the sun. For those states with progressive standards, high alternative compliance payments, and clear solar carve outs, the faster those areas become ripe for solar.

Some states have higher alternative compliance fees than others, and some states have more progressive alternative energy standards and deadlines than others do.

For instance, New Jersey has an overall RPS of 22.5% by the year 2021. That requires local utilities to source 22.5% of their energy mix from renewable sources by the year 2021. Pretty good. However, New Jersey also has a specific solar set aside of 4.1% by 2028. That’s the type of firm commitment which really gets the industry rolling forward. No wonder why New Jersey is one of the hottest solar markets right now!

Texas Electricity Prices

$0.12/kwh

Grade: C

Electricity runs about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) here. That’s right under the national average of 13 cents/kwh, but by our standards that national average is far too cheap. Energy is cheap because it’s generated from dirty-burning fossil fuels, at giant power plants that emit greenhouse gases by the billions of tons.

We’re already seeing energy prices start to rise as we become more and more aware of the effects of all those fossil fuels. As the price of energy continues to climb, the savings on your solar power system are going to rise along with it. Just remember to thank us for the tip when you’re spending all that cash on vacations instead of electricity.

Why are electricity prices so important? Because that is what solar power is directly competing against. The cost to produce power with solar is relatively constant (of course how much sun hits your area has an effect), so if you are paying $0.40 per watt for power, then you make FOUR TIMES AS MUCH as the guy or girl paying $0.10 per watt electricity.

The caveat here is that if the $0.10 per watt person has a HUGE rebate, they may be better off than the $0.40 per watt person. Because of that, states without any renewable standards tend to be heavily reliant on cheap coal for electricity, and also have very low electricity prices. When electricity prices are artificially low, that hinders the ability of solar energy to achieve meaningful payback in the state.

Texas Solar Power Rebates

Varies

Grade: A

As we mentioned earlier, Texas lacks any statewide rebate program. Luckily, this time the utilities have filled in the gaps -- at least to some extent. Many of Texas’ utilities offer their own rebates on the installation of a residential solar power system. In addition, there are a couple local options available to residents of San Marcos and Sunset Valley. Here’s a quick summary with links to more information:

Key: Utility/Locality – Rebate – Cap

Since our last update, many rebates have come and gone, but there is still a lot of opportunity for solar savings in Texas thanks to these utility-based incentives. You can check your utility’s website for the most recent information on program status and application procedures. Or you can relax and let the installers we partner with on the ground make sure you get the largest rebates and savings possible.

How do solar rebates work? Similar to getting a rebate card from your local big box store for a dishwasher purchase, state legislatures also provide rebates for solar panel purchases to spur on investment and create new jobs. If you purchase the solar panel system yourself, you qualify for this free cash, which many times is a lump payment back to you. Some solar installers like to take this amount directly off the total installed price, and they'll handle the paperwork for you to make things a lot less complex.

The availability of state and utility rebates were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The better the rebates, the higher the grade.

Texas Solar Power Tax Credits

No State Income Tax

Grade: None

Since Texas doesn’t have any income tax, there aren’t any solar tax credits to redeem! Luckily, you will still benefit from the 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit. Sample calculations follow below -- keep scrolling!

About state solar tax credits: State tax credits are not technically free money. However, they are 'credits' and not 'deductions' which means that if you have the tax appetite to take advantage of them, then they can be a 1-to-1 dollar amount off your taxes instead of a fraction of the cost of the system. So that means they can be an important factor to consider. In certain circumstances, state tax credits can provide a very powerful incentive for people to go solar.

(Keep in mind, we are not tax professionals and give no tax advice so please consult a professional before acting on anything we say related to taxes)

The availability of personal tax credits for solar energy were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the tax credit amount, the higher the grade.

Property Tax Exemption

100%

Grade: A

Finally! Score one for the Texas lawmakers -- coming through with a solid property tax exemption. When you install that shiny new solar power system, the resulting increase in home value (details on how much later) is exempt from 100% of the resulting property tax increase.

About solar property tax exemptions: Property tax exemption status is a pretty big factor when putting together your investment considerations. Many argue that solar power adds approximately 20 times your annual electricity bill savings (if you are owning the system and not leasing. Leasing still has a positive impact on the ability to sell your home though, in our opinion).

For many average-sized solar power systems on a house, that can mean $20,000 to your home value. (Edit April, 2014: Some companies, like Solar Mosaic, are starting to offer traditional style equity-based home loans for such a thing). An additional $20,000 in property tax basis in many states amounts to a big chunk of change owed back to the state. However, many states have complete exemptions from added taxes when you install solar on your home!

The availability of a property tax exemption for solar energy was also sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The stronger the tax exemption, the higher the grade.

Sales Tax Exemption

None

Grade: None

Now if only we could get a matching sales tax exemption. Sales tax ranges from 6.25% to 8.25% here, depending on the local tax rate. You may not notice it in small purchases, but that sales tax adds up for big-ticket items. A sales tax exemption is a simple and efficient way to save you a couple thousand bucks on those solar panels. No checks, no mess. Just discounts for you right off the top. Let’s get on that, lawmakers!

What's the deal with solar power sales tax exemptions? When states give you a sales tax break on solar, we notice. You should too. State sales tax exemption status for the purchase of solar energy systems were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. Sales tax exemptions, if present, were all 100%. A handful of states are completely exempt from sales tax regardless, and therefore received ‘A’ grades by default (OR, DE, MT, AK, and NH).

Solar Power Performance Payments

Varies; calculated using Value of Solar Algorithm

Grade: None

Texas lacks any performance payments for residential solar power systems. Not even individual utilities are offering them, as we’ve seen in some other states that lack a uniform system. See what we were saying about that weak RPS? If the 3.25% target were higher, you can bet some of those utilities, maybe even the state, would start offering cash payments for renewable energy production.

Explanation of performance payments: Performance payments represent a big chunk of the financial rationale for going solar, and in many instances they make your decision a wise one. For certain states, if you’ve got solar panels on your roof, not only will you be cutting your electric bill down to size, but you'll be getting paid additional cash from your utility company. Pretty awesome, huh? Not only are you generating electricity for yourself, freezing your own popsicles with sun, and feeling like you’re doing something smart for your children or any of the other 4 reasons people go solar, but you are getting PAID!

Utility companies are paying people with solar panels on their roofs because their states say they have to, otherwise they will pay a fee. Therefore, the payment amount to homeowners is typically a little bit less than the amount they would be billed for by the state. For states with these alternative compliance fees, Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) exchanges have popped up. In the above chart, we outlined an estimate of yearly payments a homeowner might expect from the utility company for the SREC credits from their solar energy system.

Expected SREC payments were calculated by using the latest trade values in the SRECtrade database. The availability of feed-in tariffs were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the expected monthly payments, the higher the grade.

If you don’t know what an SREC is, or how they work, check out this great SREC video

Time it Takes for 5kW of Solar Power to Pay for Itself

12 Years

Grade: B

Texas is so large that sunlight and energy prices can vary pretty widely. For this example we took a middle road and used sunlight measures for the east-central population areas, the state’s average electricity price, and the average rebate available in Texas’ mostly deregulated energy marketplace.

How do all the numbers typically add up? Glad you asked! Let’s see:

  • Installing a typical 5kW solar system should start at about $25,000. Don’t worry – that’s gonna drop fast!
  • First we knock off the utility rebate. The average Texas rebate is about $1,400/kW and since we’re installing 5 kW, that means we subtract $7,000, for a new price of $18,000.
  • We calculate the 30% federal rebate from the price after the utility rebate. That means another $5,400 off your bill, for a new cost of $12,600
  • Finally we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be about $796. That brings your final cost after the first year to $11,804. We told you that price tag was gonna drop!
  • With a conservative estimate of the future electricity prices, you can expect your new solar power system to pay for itself in about 12 years.
  • Don’t forget, your home goes up in value too because of those electricity savings. In fact, it goes up in value by nearly 16 grand – all of it property tax free!
  • On top from all that green in your wallet, you’re making a bunch of green for the planet -- tree green, that is. The fossil-fuel produced electricity you’re not using is just like planting 120 trees every year!

Keep in mind, these numbers are estimates, and your home is unique. Your cost (and your savings) will depend on a lot of factors, including your utility company, roof type, energy usage, and lots of other things. In fact, check out these 9 ways it could be more expensive.

The best way to know exactly how much money solar power can save you is to connect with one of our partners nearby. After you fill out that form, a friendly solar expert we trust will give you a buzz and help you craft a personal plan to get the absolute most out of a solar power system for your home. It's 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you aren't obligated to buy anything.

Texas Net Metering

None

Grade: None

Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume, and make sure you get credit for the surplus.

Net metering in Texas is … wait what?! There is no net metering here?! Yikes! We’ve seen some states that don’t do much to incentivize solar power at the legislative level, but even most of those states still have a statewide net metering law! Sadly not Texas.

A smattering of localities do offer their own net metering laws -- and more are popping up. In the cities of Austin, Brenham, El Paso (El Paso Electric), and San Antonio (CPS Energy), net metering is available to residential solar power systems and any surplus is credited to future bills at the avoided-cost rate. In addition, customers of Green Mountain Energy are eligible for net metering, with surplus energy production credited to future bills at Green Mountain’s retail rate.

What is net metering? Net metering is the billing arrangement where you can sell excess electricity back to your utility for equal the amount you are charged to consume it. The more customer friendly net metering policies, the higher the grade.

The grade here specifically reflects individual solar system capacity, caps on program capacity limits, restrictions on “rollover” of kWh from one month to the next (yep just like cell phone minutes), metering issues (like charges for new meters), Renewable Energy Credit (REC) ownership, eligible customers and technology (the more renewables the better), being able to aggregate meters across the property for net metering, and safe harbor provisions to protect customers from solar tariff changes.

Texas Interconnection Rules

C

While most of Texas does not ensure that you can have your energy consumption and production monitored for potential surplus, the state does have regulations designed to help ensure that you can get connected to the grid. Texas provides for standard interconnection procedures for all systems up to 10 MW. The regulations prohibit the utilities from requiring pre-interconnection studies, set 4-6 week time limits on how long the utilities can take to consider your application for interconnection, and offers fast-track pre-certification procedures to speed up the interconnection process.

That’s not too shabby. We’d like to see a prohibition on the requirement of redundant external disconnect switches and separate liability insurance, but compared to the rest of the state’s legislation, interconnection is a big step in the right direction.

Interconnection rules are a little technical, but they basically allow you to “plug in” to the electric grid with solar panels on your roof. The more complex, out of date, or nonsensical the state rules are for plugging into the grid, the lower the grade.

Specifically, the grade reflects what technologies are eligible, individual system capacity, removing interconnection process complexity for smaller systems, interconnection timelines and charges, engineering charges, prohibiting the requirement of unnecessary external disconnects, certification, spot interconnection vs. wide area interconnection, technical screens, friendliness of legalese, insurance requirements, dispute resolution, and rule coverage.

Home Solar Power: Leasing Vs. Purchasing

To lease, or not to lease? Willsolar Shakespanels would be proud we're discussing this. Here's the basic deal. If you choose to lease your panels, you benefit from no out of pocket costs and an immediately reduced total electricity payment. Because of this, many regard this option as a no-brainer, since there isn't any downside to think of. The only hiccup you'll start to experience is when you consider the long term financial benefit of owning the solar panel system yourself.

In many situations, if you can afford the outlay or can easily secure financing, the cost of the install becomes an investment with a return outpacing even the strongest performing mutual funds. In addition, there's significantly less principal risk, since the energy credits you will be producing are tied to the sun coming up in the morning instead of our financial markets!

Additionally, if you go the leasing route, you must forfeit all the credits and performance payments you would receive by owning the system yourself to the solar leasing company (after all, that's how they can afford to give you such a no-brainer proposition in the first place).

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The consensus on Texas solar power rebates and incentives

Despite the lousy statewide regulations, those big fast utility rebates manage to keep the overall picture from being a total failure. The 12 year payback timeframe is, in fact, pretty decent. Normally that would be strong enough for a “C” grade from us. Unfortunately, with a poor showing on net metering and interconnection requirements, a return lower than average, and a minimal RPS keeping us in fear of closing rebate programs, we can’t bring ourselves to give the Lone Star State anything higher than a “D.”

2015 Texas Solar Power Report Card

75 thoughts on “Texas Solar Power for your house – rebates, tax credits, savings

  1. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed reading this page about the different regulations in different states. It is written in an amusing, easy-to-understand style. Apparently, people who are switching to solar energy are taking away the profits of the coal-fired energy plants, forcing the Big Guys to discourage solar power. It is the lobbyists for the old-guard who are convincing state governments to withdraw incentives to switch to solar. Here is an article I read today in which some experts proclaim that “old energy” is in a death spiral. “Old Energy Is Doing Everything It Can To Stop The Rise Of Solar” http://www.businessinsider.com/r-taxes-fees-the-worldwide-battle-between-utilities-and-solar–2014-9 I would rather buy than lease solar panels. Thanks for this webpage, however. I learned a lot from it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Are you smoking crack dude?! If I had ten or twenty thousand in the bank I’d drop half of it to buy stock in this company! Why? Because unless they go under from really horrible management it is as close to a ‘sure thing’ investment as you can get. similar to buying electric company stock, only BETTER because I unlike the electric company, the growth rate of a company like this has the ability to go through the roof because of a virtually untapped market! They literally can’t lose because you WILL pay your electric bill, you WILL save money and your neighbors WILL want in on this, so their business goes up again! outside of faulty equipment costs and related maint., its like their a bank giving you a car loan, just less likelihood of you defaulting! Government/state rebates etc reduces polution which means less health related problems nationwide. I could go on, but you get the point. QUOTE__Anyone asking for government “rebates” to buy and install what amounts to private property is asking a for a handout from someone else. Government has no money except what it steal from individuals under threat of loss of their home if they don’t pay. It’s a SCAM! See if you let this truth through, moderator. I suspect not because it conflicts with your agenda.__UNQUOTE

    1. The government subsidizes things it thinks are in the best interests of the country. We give tax breaks to home buyers because we are all better off when we have more home owners. We give tax credits to movie makers because we are all better off when they film movies in the United States, generating billions of dollars in economic activity. And we give tax credits for solar installations because it not only creates jobs and reduces household expenses, it reduces health care costs by reducing air pollution, etc. But soon, the tax credits for solar will expire and given the current political situation, it probably isn’t wise to assume that congress will be able to function well enough to renew them, so now is the time to get a solar system installed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    fyi, 10kw wouldn’t be wasteful, your home will suck all of the electricity up from those panels and still be using power from your utility company! p.s. website admin, I tried to reply to the author of the quoted comment using thr reply function but it FAILED to work using two different browsers on my tablet! QUOTE__Credits seem to be limited value if you aren’t using them up by the time they try and expire them. Like to do a 10kw on new home, though will do 5kw if no way to make sure excess isn’t wasted since battery storage is still too expensive.__UNQUOTE

    1. Your installer will use software tools to project what your system output will be for each month of the year and compare that to your historic electric bills for those months and ensure that your system isn’t sized too large for your needs. Depending on your utility, you might be able to roll over your credits for one month, one year, or forever, and that will also help determine the best size of your system. The best approach is work with your installer to determine the best system size.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Who can do Solar Leases in McAllen, Texas?

    1. The easiest way to get a quote on a solar lease in Texas is to go to http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/see-your-solar-savings/ and fill out the short form there.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Quick Note about Sales Tax Credit in Texas. Although we do not have a sales tax credit in Texas, we can tax the Federal Sales Tax credit because we do not have a state income tax. So it’s a Federal tax credit for sales tax paid in Texas.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Quick Note about Sales Tax Credit in Texas

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  8. Dilip says:

    So are the options in Houston area(CenterPoint) limited to getting credit thru the 3 utilities listed on http://www.powertochoose.org/en-us/Plan/Offers for my area? No one is paying cash? Credits seem to be limited value if you aren’t using them up by the time they try and expire them. Like to do a 10kw on new home, though will do 5kw if no way to make sure excess isn’t wasted since battery storage is still too expensive.

  9. TateRehmet says:

    very interesting article, I may try to contact oncor about the rebate program in Dallas.

  10. Marcus Joo says:

    This needs to be updated.
    Oncor’s Take a Load Off Texas Rebate program is back online and people in the DALLAS-FORT WORTH area can take advantage of great solar prices now.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m in Melbourne Australia. Igot a1.5system installed for 3 grand and in the first year I payed 95 bucks for elctrisity

  12. Roy says:

    I do wish Texas would get more on the bandwagon with green energy..I truly do envy the folks living in Austin. They have a good deal going down there.

  13. Lets go GREEN Texas. The rebates are getting better. Payoff in ten years is pretty awesome. Plus saving our planet for our CHILDREN is pretty awesome.

  14. There should not be any payment to be made if someone uses solar unless it is for public use. I prefer solar Perth to be installed by myself. I am choosing solar powered systems because I don’t want to think of the costly electricity bill so these extra charges are really confusing because it defeats the purpose of installing a solar.

  15. PJ says:

    Reading all of this makes things sound really good and I would love to jump on board and have panels on my roof..I’ve been looking at a lot of sites regarding solar energy for a couple of years but the cost to do it is out of my reach …I also am seeing east texas is not included in the ares served

  16. Mike says:

    Can this be used on a commercial basis? And do the same rebates apply?

    1. Dave Llorens says:

      Mike, solar is different everywhere, sometimes all the way down to the neighborhood level. In general, yes, solar is worth exploring for commercial entities. Some places they look better than a home, financially, others, the opposite. Fill out the form to get a quote and if there is someone who can quote you commercial in the area the will give you a buzz.

      Cheers,
      Dave

  17. harvey says:

    The Austin lady sounded like she received a great deal from her utility company. What about someone from College Station Texas?

  18. Tom O'Donnell says:

    Hi, is the $2000 per kw still available in Texas, great forum thanks

  19. Dave says:

    Anyone asking for government “rebates” to buy and install what amounts to private property is asking a for a handout from someone else. Government has no money except what it steal from individuals under threat of loss of their home if they don’t pay. It’s a SCAM! See if you let this truth through, moderator. I suspect not because it conflicts with your agenda.

  20. ktp says:

    Just wanted to add my recent experiences installing PV system through Austin Energy. Systems have gone down significantly in price compared to just a few years ago. We got our 6.2KW system through Longhorn solar for just $20K, no battery system though, just 26 panels and the inverter box plus hookups and meters to the grid for selling excess back. With the Austin rebate of $15K and the tax credit, it came down to $3.5K out of pocket, which is very reasonable. With a saving of about $900 a year on electricity, everything should be paid off after 4 years and start earning money. That’s a pretty good deal.

  21. kev says:

    What amount of energy kW’s does a 3000 sq foot house use a year or say a 5k sq foot house?
    How much would a system described above generate?
    Then I can calculate after rebates how long the net cost takes me to earn back in savings?
    Do the prices include install, and all other equipment required i.e. 100% full system?

  22. Kim says:

    I live in Dallas Texas, another city that is suffering through this horrible heat wave and drought. We are starting to see rolling blackouts. I just bought my first home a month ago, but adding solar panels seems like it should be a first upgrade investment. I am looking through databases and am shocked that I don’t see a city as big as Dallas on any of the incentive lists for grants or tax rebates. Is there something out there that I am missing, or are we really not being incented to go green with power in Dallas or am I just missing us on the lists?? If I install now, without incentives, will I be eligible to be grandfathered in for a rebate at a later date?

  23. Debbie says:

    Iv’e had solar going on 12 years now and i’m sick of replacing these expensive batteries that are way to heavy for me to move.Is there not a easier,simpler way to store energy? I don’t recommend solar if your a woman and live alone and don”t understand electricity dc/ac no electric available where i live unless I can come up with $175K upfront. help any solutions to my problem???

  24. Georgia says:

    don’t see on PEC’s website that they off any type of incentive program. Was wondering if anyone out there knew if they did but just did not advertise it? I am going to email them, looks like with all the hill country customers they have it would be a cinch. We are leaning hard on the lease programs…..anyone out there tried it yet?

  25. Joe says:

    I might have missed this in the above answers.I have txu and use about 2kwh per month and I would like to know as of now is it worth the expense to install solar on my home in Houston. Also how long would it take to pay off

  26. Maria says:

    Thanks for the info, living in Houston seems to be creating issues, but with as much sun as we get and with the grid going down so often, they should be paying us to put panels on our roofs!!! I’m still searching for the right fix for me. My contract with Reliant ends in 2 weeks and I’m looking at leasing solar panels (new options), but that isn’t even truly available in Houston yet (mostly in California only). Why is the Houston energy market so darn difficult? It can’t be ERCOT, b/c look at Austin and San Antonio! TXU might be my best bet with their contract with SolarCity, but still seems cost prohibitive…..HELP!

  27. Phillip Kearn says:

    San Antonio offers the best rebate through CPS Energy (solar panels). For Commercial projects, they pay $3.00 per watt for up to $100,000. Residential is the same with a cap of $30,000. Most of the companies there are “mom and pops” so do your research. Uptown Solar and 1BG are the larger companies I recommend.

  28. edgar says:

    Were can i get info on who to sell energy from my solar panels in Laredo TX?

  29. tim says:

    I am looking to ease into the Solar Business and am looking for eduactional / training resources in Texas. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Tim,

      I’m not familiar with anything in Texas, but check out Solar Energy International based in Colorado, a very reputable place. They have some on line courses that would help you on your way and then perhaps you get some hands-on experience nearby. Hope that helps. Also, check out Solar Living Institute if you want to take a trip to California.

  30. Rose says:

    My only option in East (less than 15 minutes from down town Dallas) Texas is to be vitimized by my electric co-op. My co-op not only has numerous complaints against them according to PEC (not like PEC can do anything to them)but they also have some of the highest rates in any Texas co-op. They are NOT on any rebate lists that I can find & according to complaints I have heard/read from others, there is so much red tape bullcrap with HOAs & wind turbines, ‘good luck!’ Our co-op ‘claims’ they offer green energy incentives BUT only if your not in any kind of HOA violations?!?!?! Not too mention other ‘rules & regulations’ to qualify. Since when did the co-op & the HOA take over my rights to be green? The co-op ‘board’ still houses the same ‘good o’le boys’ from years past. As I know fully they will NEVER vote for deregulation, how can I make my one voice heard above the ‘good o’le boys’ on the co-op board? I would host functions, pass out flyers, makes calls ect, to do whatever it would take to push the co-op OUT! Can someone advise me as to where to start? I have checked Right To Choose, ERCOT, Americans For Prosperity & several others but the message seems to be the same. I’m moreless at the mercy of my co-op. Someone PLEASE help me!

  31. Murray says:

    Texas has probably one of the best Solar Environments in the Country. AEP just started offering last week a 2.50 a DC Watt rebate. See http://www.cleanenergyassociates.com/txreincentives.php

    When combined with the programs recently announced by TNMP, Entergy and Xcel a vast majority of the state has very lucrative incentives. Much better than many other states though it is fragmented. Problem areas are the COOPS, El Paso and the Houston Market.

  32. ray eytcheson says:

    I found the thread very informative. It’s sad that Texas is so backward in having a unified policy regardless of provider. But the solar client is more interested in cost containment, than revenue generation anyway. We invest, we save!

  33. ray eytcheson says:

    Since there is no true correlation between watts and amps, how do we correctly determine the size of system that is necessary to assure a minimum of 100 amp availability via solar

  34. Murray says:

    Kevin, we have structured a tax lease for non-profits so other entities (usually us) can use the tax benefits which can then be passed along to the non-profit in the form of a lower priced unit at purchase option time. If you wish to know more about how this works contact me.

  35. Murray says:

    Dave, Txu through its Oncor subsidiary offers a 2.46 per watt grant. Since February we have been installing systems all over the Oncor system as an Oncor certified installer. Give us a call and we will walk you through the steps.

  36. Harrison says:

    Say, using the example at the beginning of this thread, I would like to install a 3 kW system that would be about $27,000 ($9.00/Watt x 3,000 Watts). In this example I wouldd be in line to receive the maximum incentive of $13,500. The Fed offers a 30% incentive in the form of a tax credit with no cap. Assuming you have the tax liability, you’re in line to deduct another $8,100 (30% x $27,000).

    Assuming that the above price is applying for a grid-tie system (no batteries). Now, I want an off grid system with batteries installed. Does the incentive apply to the initial batteries cost too ? When you say “system”, is it referring to the entire system or just the solar panel ?

    Dan Hahn mentioned that solar panels are guaranteed to be producing at at least 80% of their capacity at year 25. How often the batteries need to be replace within these 25 years. Will the batteries replacement cost is getting incentive too?

    David mentioned : “If your system is grid-tied, it will go down if the grid goes down”. Why ? Technically, I think even it’s a grid-tied system, solar panels generate their own power, why we can’t use it. Assuming this is something that the monopoly wants to control, we probably need a system that automatically tie (to sell) and untie (to use). It would be nice.

    Think about someday, every single house has its own solar power system, we maybe able to share electricity through the network…just like the internet…

  37. kevin says:

    Does anyone know if churches qualify for the 30% tax credit or are there any other incentives for churches?

  38. Dave says:

    Looking to install a 5 KWH system in Plano, but I’m wondering what effect coming (maybe) federal laws might have or if I’m looking at only the IRS “30%” thing. TXU utilities seems to be totally ignorant on the subject..

  39. Murray says:

    Kevin;

    There will continue to be much confusion on this issue until the IRS finally issues their REG’s on this matter. This may take a while as some states have gotten to be very creative in their promotion of Solar with Paid-In-Tariff’s, Grants, State Rebates, State Credits over multiple years. I have discussed this matter with a couple of my contacts at the DOE and it could be several months before all these issues have finally been addressed in the first draft with probable multiple clarifications to follow because of the complexity of the law / issue itself.

    I advise our dealers to provide clients with this background when explaining the 30% Federal Credit and to be on the conservative side until the IRS regulatons finally come out.

  40. kevin says:

    There seems to be much confusion about how the federal and utility rebates are applied. Some web sites show the federal tax rebate as (cost – utility rebate) * .3, while others show it as cost * .3. Which is correct?

  41. MINS says:

    do any of you know any websites with people who had tried unsuccessfully to use ‘green power’ or solar power if know plz comment.

  42. Dan Hahn says:

    Murray,

    Thanks for the link, we’ll be on it once this bill gets signed and we get a little more info!

    – Dan

  43. Murray says:

    Our company has installers in many Texas Markets.

    Texas is about to move up to at least a 4 star if not a 5 star once this bill is signed by Gov Perry. As a 30% rebate, 500 million will install alot of solar systems in Texas.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Texas-Senate-passes-500M-apf-14997773.html?.v=1

  44. Dan Hahn says:

    Lydia,

    Thanks for your question and your real estate work. Appraisers are still getting their act together on this one and they may vary a bit from one to another, but according to The Appraisal Journal, home value increases by about $20 for every $1 reduction in annual utility bills. Said another way, solar energy adds 20 times yearly energy savings to resale value.

    Regardless, as I think that 20x multiplier is actually a little conservative. Solar panels are guaranteed to be producing at at least 80% of their capacity at year 25. They’ll actually be working for 40 to 50 years. However, your utility prices aren’t going anywhere but up. The 20x multiplier doesn’t even take that into account. The more your electric rates go up, the more valuable your investment becomes because you’re offsetting that much more power with your own power.

    Hope that helps,

    – Dan

  45. Lydia says:

    I’m looking forward to the increasing affordability of solar power in our state. As a Realtor, I’d like to know where you get the statistic about a home value rising 20x the annual electric bill savings. I sell a lot of homes and have never heard of this kind of increase in property value. Is there something to back this up?

  46. Dan Hahn says:

    Dan,

    Great name BTW. It seems as though your heart and head is in the right space. I recommend networking into business groups where there is venture capital flowing. I’m not sure who is involved in Texas, though I wish you the best of luck!

    Cheers,

    – Dan

  47. Dan says:

    To whom it may concern, I would like to help people with renewable energy and reside in Texas. I have been working towards openning people’s eyes in the US but in Texas potential funding resources that would help to get this concept off the ground have made their fortune in fossile fuel with no intention of deviating from this. Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how to go about raising startup funds for a organization geared towards making newable energy affordable to everyone including the poor with an opportunity of freedom? I have not been evolved in non-profit organizations but my heart is into the renewable energy cause as a movement towards freedom for people whom want to be free from reliance on something else to provide them what they need farely. Thank you very much in advance. Dan

  48. Sheryl Stedman says:

    I live in Magnolia. What companies are coving this area if any? After reading the previous emails I am wondering if all this is too risky for me. I just want to be able to run my air conditioner this summer and pay the bill.

  49. bryan says:

    Contact your legislative officials and demand Texans are allowed to purchase and use solar panels for their homes to save on green house gases. Senate bill 403 bypasses hoa’s to be able to install the panels.

  50. bryan says:

    its about time for everyone to get smart on energy and the monopolies wont turn this over to the consumer without a fight . you see millions of dollars are going to be lost when this happens. Finnally the little people will get a break on energy prices. After all to be a competative market all sources of energy should be allowed to compete> thats my 2kws

  51. Cindy says:

    We are starting a company that installs solar for pool heating in Dallas. I am wondering if there is any legislature yet that prohibits homeowner associations from denying a homeowner the right to install the panels on roof?

  52. Dan Hahn says:

    JR,

    Thanks for your local Austin expertise! We’re sure all our readers appreciate it.

  53. JR says:

    Compiled Q&A thus far:
    Q Gary: What rebates target Houston?
    A JR: 30% Federal rebate

    Q John: How do i contact the PG&E Solar division about employment?
    A David: http://www.pge.com

    Q Kathy: What rebates target Fort Worth?
    A JR: Encore is offering a ~$2.40/Watt rebate in 2009

    Q TGR: How well do panels hold up horrible Texas hail?
    A JR: Solar panels are rated to take 1” hail at 95 mph. They protect your roof.

    Q QDI: What is the payback period?
    A JR: Green City Solar LLC (www.greencityaustin.com) offers an instant payback financial model in most Texas rebate markets. In federal incentive only markets, payback is 25-30 years.

    Q Rose: Why does Austin have the best incentive?
    A JR: Austin Energy is a publically owned cooperative with an overcapacity demand. Residents successfully lobbied AE to introduce a solar incentive program instead of building a new utility plant, after a professional study argued the cost, national security, and environmental impacts justified the program. This leadership has attracted a large scale solar manufacturing plant (Heliovolt) to add jobs to the local economy.

    Q Jim: What rebates target Laredo?
    Q Julie: Also remomber the cost benefit of solar as back-up power.
    A David: If your system is grid-tied, it will go down if the grid goes down.
    A JR: If your system is grid-tied, add a battery back-up system to prevent power outages.

    Q Brandy: I live in Houston. How am I saving money?
    A JR: You aren’t. In terms of cold, hard cash flow in non-rebate markets, it takes 25-30 years to justify system ownership. Wait until mid-2010 to buy a system, prices will dramatically drop. *NOTE* rebate customers should NOT wait for the price drop as the rebates will go away and they will end up paying MORE.

    Feel free to email jcromer@greencityaustin.com with additional questions.

  54. Mark V says:

    Yes, Brandy, Dan is correct. You can recieve INSTANT increase in the value of your property with a Solar System(PV-electric). For the full value of your cost. Its a great way to hedge on the increasing cost of fuel/electric prices. Depending on the size of your home, Solar system, power usage and energy efficency level. It can take as long as 25 years or as short as 5 years to recoup your costs. BUT as of next week JAN 1 2009. We will be able to take a federal tax credit of 30% with out the $2000 limit. So a 3000 watt solar system ($30,000)- $9000=21,000 will produce about $3000 of electricity …not too bad. And its the right thing to do. http://WWW.SolarDesignandConstruction.net

  55. Dan Hahn says:

    Hi Brandy,

    The best way to determine if solar is worth it for you is to get an evaluation and an estimate from a licensed contractor. An easy way to do that is to click the link at the top of the page.

    Keep in mind, your home value will immediately increase by 20x your annual electricity savings once you connect your solar panels to the electricity grid. As the cost of electricity continues to rise, so does your property value. Added bonus = your property value increase is tax exempt.

    When you say “small 1000 package” what are you referring to?

    Cheers,

    Dan

  56. Brandy says:

    If installation for a small 1000 package with Houston Renewable Energy is 12,000 dollars and the rebate is only 2,000 dollars per home installation for a one time incentive that expires in December how am I saving money? I’m worried that if I had to finance the installation I would wind up paying more than my electricity bill. I’m really interested in solar energy, but at the moment I’m not sure if it is cost effective for me.

  57. Hi Julie. If your system is grid-tied, it will go down if the grid goes down. Off-grid systems are more expensive but can be necessary in areas where dropping a new power line can be cost – prohibitive, or you just REALLY NEED to be off the grid for some reason.

    the most cost effective solution is usually to get a grid tied system, and then if power outages worry you, just purchase a generator for $500.

    Cheers,
    Dave

  58. Julie says:

    When thinking about pay-back periods, you also need to consider the convenience of not losing electric power. I have a friend in Houston with a system and he’s one of the few people who didn’t lose power as a result of Hurricane Ike.

    I’ve come home to find my neighbors all standing in the street, talking about not having electricity. One neighbor was locked out of her house because her garage door opener didn’t work. If the outage had lasted longer, they’d have been having dinner at my house as I was the only person on the block with electricity for about two hours.

    As the electric grid in Texas gets stretched thinner and thinner, solar power for backup electricity will start to make good financial sense, even without utility rebates.

  59. Jim says:

    Is there a convenient way to find what the solar rebate would be on a 5KW system installed in Laredo, Texas?

  60. Rose says:

    Why is it the capitol city has the best incentives? Why can’t the rest of the state share in the benefits? We it across the country and world. Help us all get in on saving the world for the future generations!

  61. Gary, For Houston there is a state commercial 10% Deduction from profits and/or 100% Deducted from capitol. This is off of Texas Franchise taxes. The Federal Govt offers 30% Tax Credit.
    Residence only get the 20% Federal in Houston. No Utility Cos offer a rebate in Texas except Austin Energy and CPS in San Antonio, which are Municipal Utilities. See my website for all the details on Solar Panels in Texas, Solar Systems in Texas and Solar Rebates and Tax incentives for Solar in Texas. http://www.mehrsolar.com/lonestar. or http://lonestar.mehrsolar.com

  62. GDI says:

    I wonder what the pay back period is for a typical residential installation?

  63. EJ Barron says:

    It appears as if Texas wants to keep us energy dependent on companies which contribute to global warming and increase the air pollution. Coal energy and petroleum based generation plants to our detriment. I could not find out why other states are more forward-thinking than Texas. I thought we were leaders not backward thinking! Given the problems with Enron I’m shouldn’t be surprised…makes me sad to be native Texan.

  64. TGR says:

    How well would Solar panels hold up in the horrible hail we get here in Texas?
    I was considering solar but your information has discouraged me from doing it here. I have Co-op elec & they dont have any poiliy to buy solar from me if I did put it in.

  65. Randal Vidal says:

    why doesn’t GVEC have a rebate on solar electric or hot water installs and why does it not buy the available electric from owners who produce electric and why isn’t there any low interest loans to get the jobs done

  66. In Texas, Austin Energy and CPS Energy in San Antonio offer Solar PV Rebates. They are good ones and make it easier and quicker to pay your system off. See http://www.mehrsolar.com/lonestar for more information. Also write your state reps and State Senator. Ask for a State Rebate for Solar PV Systems like NY, NJ, CA and CO. These states offer excellent state rebates. Not Texas, Yet!

  67. Kathy says:

    Does Fort Worth offer similar options and is solar recommended for this region?

  68. I’d have to say check PG&E’s website? http://www.pge.com. Honestly, sorry but no help here :-(

  69. John says:

    How do i contact the PG&E Solar division about employment?

  70. gary says:

    Need to know how is the rebate available for houston texas

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