Buy Solar Panels Houston
Alternative-energy-seeking locals now have a sunny way to buy into a solar. The City of Houston has launched Texas Solar SwitchHouston, a new program aimed at helping Houstonians purchase and install rooftop solar panels and battery storage.
buy solar panels houston
In partnership with Solar United Neighbors, the Solar Switch program offers hassle-free way to purchase solar panels by creating a massive, group discount for residents, be it home or small business needs.
Registration for the program is free and available online. The City of Houston assures that there is "no obligation for homeowners to purchase solar panels." Discounts and installers are determined through a competitive auction process, per the City.
"With energy prices increasing, homeowners and small businesses are looking for opportunities to save on their energy bills and increase their resilience to climate-related events," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "Texas Solar Switch Houston provides our community with a simple and straightforward way to become better informed about solar energy and access a competitive offer from a vetted, experienced solar installation company."
The revolutionary thing about solar leases was that they made it possible for virtually anyone with a roof to go solar, regardless of whether they had cash in the bank to purchase a system. Solar leases were crucial in removing barriers to entry back when solar system prices were prohibitively high.
Buying your rooftop solar panel system outright is usually the best value over 25 years. Even though your initial cost could be steep, you can reap all of the financial benefits and savings associated with going solar (incentives, tax credits, and more).
Applying for a solar loan is the next best option when it comes to a return on investment. The initial cost is $0; however, interest payments chip away at energy savings for approximately the first seven years until the loan is paid off. The payback period will ultimately depend on factors like the upfront cost, size, energy efficiency, and interest rates associated with your solar photovoltaic system. After that time period, you get to keep 100% of your energy savings.
Choosing to go with a solar lease or solar PPA may be something worth considering for certain homeowners. The biggest selling point here is that there is no upfront cost, but beware that the value is dampened by the solar company who takes out their cut of your savings through your monthly payments. By the end of your warranty period, the lease or PPA will have taken up more than half of your potential savings as profits for the solar installer.
Buying solar panels on your own is worse than buying a used car. When I began researching solar panels, I entered my phone number into a reputable-looking website that said local solar providers would contact me. I expected to hear the gentle voices of hippie vegans.
But for lots of homeowners, panels will more than pay for themselves. In my case, working from my annual power bill, a super-rough estimate shows that the power my panels generate will probably cover my costs in just over 12 years. Given that the panels and inverters have 25-year warranties, that works out to tens of thousands in savings.
Solar power systems are a source of clean electricity, with simple maintenance needs and a lifespan of over 25 years. The main challenge when using solar panels is managing their variable energy production: they can only generate electricity when sunshine is available, unlike a diesel generator that provides power on demand.
The electricity output of a solar power system can exceed consumption at times, especially in homes that are empty during the day. To solve this problem, many energy companies have programs that reward solar owners for surplus generation. These programs are varied, offering different terms and conditions, but their common purpose is making surplus generation valuable for the client.
Net metering is the most common solution to handle surplus electricity from solar panels. In Texas, there are many electricity providers who will buy back, or give you credit for your excess solar power.
Texas does not mandate net metering by law, but many Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) and municipal power companies offer the benefit. This article will provide an overview of the best solar buyback and net metering programs in the state as of 2023.
In simple terms, net metering subtracts your solar generation from your electricity consumption, and you are only billed for the difference. If your credit for solar generation is actually higher than your consumption, the rules vary depending on the energy company:
Feed-in tariffs or FITs are rates that apply for surplus electricity exported to the grid. Under traditional net metering, your consumption and solar generation are valued equally, but a feed-in tariff assigns a different price tag for surplus generation.
Performance-based incentives reward you based on the total output of your solar panels, not only your surplus production. This means you get the incentive regardless of how solar generation is used: consumed onsite, or exported to the grid.
The Value of Solar (VOS) Tariff offered by Austin Energy is an example of a performance-based incentive. You get a power bill credit of 9.7 cents/kWh based on 100% of your solar generation (not only your excess production).
In most regions of Texas, you can choose your electricity company thanks to deregulation. Some electricity plans are designed specially for consumers who own solar panels, and in many cases they can boost savings. Texas has dozens of electricity providers, but few of them have solar buyback or net metering plans:
16.5 / kWh(Shine 12)No solar buyback limit, unused credits are rolled over to the next month.David EnergySolar Seller 12The solar buyback rate is 90% of the real-time wholesale market price, published by ERCOT.10.6 / kWhNo solar buyback limit, and unused credits are rolled over to the next month.Energy TexasSun-Jacinto Solar Buyback Program, can be added to all their fixed rate plans:
You can request a cash payment for unused solar buyback credits when the balance reaches $50, or when your contract ends.Reliant EnergySolar Payback PlusNot published by the Reliant Energy website. You must call them or send an email.Not published by the Reliant Energy website.Available for solar power systems up to 50 kW.
No solar buyback limit, and unused credits are rolled over to the next month.Shell EnergySolar Buyback 12, 24Real-time wholesale market price, published by ERCOT.12.2 / kWh(Solar Buyback 12)No solar buyback limit, and unused credits are rolled over to the next month.TXU EnergyHome Solar Buyback 12, 24, 369.5 / kWh(Solar Buyback 12)
17.5 / kWh(Solar Buyback 36)The maximum credit available for surplus solar generation is your monthly energy usage from the grid. Credits cannot be rolled over.*NOTE: This table provides the kWh prices offered in the Oncor service territory.
Austin Energy also offers a cash rebate of $2,500 for eligible home solar systems with at least 3 kW of capacity. Multifamily buildings are also eligible for this solar rebate, with a limit of $2,500 per dwelling unit. The normal incentive rate is $0.60/watt, but nonprofits can qualify for $1.00/watt (the limit per unit applies in both cases).
CPS Energy also offers a solar rebate program for small businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations. The incentive is $0.60/watt up to 25 kW, and $0.40/watt for any capacity above 25 kW. The incentive cap per project is 50% of costs up to a maximum amount of $80,000 (whichever is less).
Rhythm Energy has a popular solar buyback plan for Texans that allows for a one for one kWh rate. The Rooftop Solar Buyback Plan is a 12 month contract with a fixed energy rate. This means your rate stays the same, no matter what the Texas electricity market does.
Shell Energy has the Solar Buyback program for the Oncor and CenterPoint service areas. All surplus generation from solar PV systems is credited at the real-time wholesale price, and subtracted from subsequent power bills. There is no solar buyback limit and unused credits are rolled over to the next month until you need them, but there is no cash payment option.
TXU Energy offers the Home Solar Buyback program, where you get credit for surplus generation at the retail energy price. The main drawback of this program is that the maximum monthly credit is limited by your consumption. This means you cannot claim credits for solar production that exceeds your consumption, and there is no rollover.
When you export surplus solar power, Champion Energy applies the real-time settlement price of the wholesale market, which changes at 15-minute intervals. This is a major advantage during summer at times of peak demand, since the wholesale price can become much higher than your retail price.
El Paso Electric (EPE) offers net metering solar power systems up to 50 kW, which practically covers all residential systems. However, your solar PV system must be sized based on your electricity consumption during the last year before the installation, which means you cannot oversize.
LP&L offers net metering up to 100% of your consumption, and there is no credit for surplus production above your monthly consumption. However, LP&L offers another incentive: homeowners with solar panels have access to lower kilowatt-hour prices when using the grid. The best strategy is installing a solar power system that generates less electricity than what your home consumes, and purchasing the difference from LP&L at discounted price.
The kilowatt-hour prices charged by LP&L for electricity consumption that is not covered by your solar panels are extremely low. These kWh prices are only available for solar owners in their net metering program:
$0.01175/kWh for consumption over 1,000 kWhThe LP&L net metering program is unusual, but beneficial for homeowners. This program rewards solar panel systems that are properly sized, with net metering up to 100% of your consumption and a low kWh price for consumption not covered by your solar panels. However, oversized solar power systems get no rewards for generating electricity above your consumption, and there is a 10 kW capacity limit. 041b061a72