What Are Solar Buyback Plans and Net Metering Plans?

Written by Frank Eakin | Last Updated 02/12/2024

A solar buyback plan or net metering program can allow you to earn money on the solar panels you own. These programs pay you for the excess electricity your solar panels produce.

Sounds pretty good, right? Read on to learn more about solar buyback plans, how they work, and which companies offer them.

What Are Solar Buyback Plans?

When your home consumes more energy than your solar system produces (usually on cloudy days and at night), unless you have a battery to fill this energy gap, you’ll pay the electric company for the grid energy consumed in these periods.

On the other hand, on sunny days, your solar panels may produce more energy than you consume.

When this happens, an electricity company offering a solar buyback plan will credit you for this surplus electricity. The company may apply those credits against the grid power you use in future billing cycles, while other providers may pay the credits out to you.

A solar buyback plan is an agreement with your electricity provider to sell your excess solar power back to the grid. Solar buyback programs usually pay you a different kWh rate for your consumption versus your surplus generation, and the consumption rate is normally higher; alternatively, net metering programs may pay you full value for your excess power.

In Texas, you can sell your excess solar power if you have the following:

  • Solar panels on your property
  • An electricity provider that offers a solar buyback plan
  • An interconnection agreement with your transmission utility (TDU), such as Centerpoint or Oncor
  • A bi-directional smart meter installed by your TDU, which measures how much energy you use versus how much your solar system generates

Net Metering in Texas

Some companies use net metering for customers whose solar panels produce more energy than their house consumes. With net metering, an electricity provider subtracts the solar power kilowatt-hours you generate from the energy you consume, then bills you for the difference.

If you have surplus generation of power, you earn one credit for each kilowatt-hour of electricity you export to the grid. You effectively receive the same value for energy consumed and energy generated.

Many electricity companies in Texas offer net metering, solar buyback plans, or both. You must have one of these plans to get the best solar buyback rates.

Solar Buyback Plans in Texas

Thanks to deregulation, Texas has many electricity companies, and you can choose the best one for your needs. Some providers offer much better buyback rates than others, and most offer only the wholesale cost of electricity, so it’s important to do your homework to get the best deal.

Here’s a list of the best power companies for buy back solar power in Texas, with information about their terms and rates:

  • Reliant Energy
  • TXU
  • Gexa Energy
  • Green Mountain
  • Rhythm Energy
  • Shell Energy
  • Champion Energy
  • Chariot Energy

Best Solar Buyack Plans in Texas

Plan Name
Terms Available
Early Termination Fee
Base Fee
Import Rate
Export Rate
Limitations / Benefits
Reliant Energy
Solar Payback Plus
12 Months
$9.95 / month
15.3339 ₵ / kWh
5.3 ₵ / kWh
Gexa Energy
Solar Buyback
12 Months
$9.95 / month
17.4839 ₵ / kWh
12.45 ₵ / kWh
100% green energy, rollover credits available
Green Mountain
Renewable Rewards Essential
12 Months
$9.95 / month
16.7294 ₵ / kWh
11.6915 ₵ / kWh
100% green energy
Rhythm Energy
Texas Solar Buyback
12 Months
$20 per month remaining in contract
$9.95 / month
20.5079 ₵ / kWh
10.2 ₵ / kWh
100% green energy, rollover credits available
Champion Energy
Indexed Solar Buyback Addendum
All Plan Terms
$150 to $350 (depends on term)
Depends on plan selected
Variable - wholesale market rate
Can be added to any plan, except Free Nights. Rollover credits available
Chariot Energy
12, 24 and 36
$15 per month remaining in contract
$9.95 / month
14.2239 ₵ / kWh (12 month plan)
Variable - wholesale market rate up to 25 ₵ / kWh
100% green energy, rollover credits available, $200 enrollment credit

Understanding Texas Solar Buyback Plans

As you start researching solar buyback plans in Texas, you might have questions about the terms they use. Here’s a helpful guide you can refer to as you compare solar buyback plans in the Lone Star State:

  • Net producer: The term “net producer” refers to you, the homeowner who generates more electricity than you use and exports surplus to the grid.
  • Retailer: The retail electricity provider, or REP, is the company you choose to buy back your electricity on behalf of your TDU.
  • Maximum size: Some electricity companies will set caps on the maximum capacity of your installed solar panels.
  • No cash-out option: Companies that have a no cash-out option only allow you to use the credits you earn toward your future electricity bills. You won’t receive cash for the excess power you generate.
  • 1:1 buyback: This type of program means the company will credit you at a rate equal to the price per kilowatt-hour you pay for electricity.

How Much Money Can You Make With Net Metering?

It’s hard to say exactly how much you can make with net metering because it depends on how much energy you use and how much electricity your solar panels generate. If you use most or all of the solar power your panels produce, then you won’t make much money. However, it can be a lucrative option if you regularly have surplus solar energy.

People with solar panel systems can also receive other benefits, such as renewable energy credits. A renewable energy credit equals 1,000 kWh of surplus solar energy. You can sell or trade those credits to make additional money from your excess solar generation.


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