A clean energy revolution is sweeping across Texas with the world’s top firms, such as Facebook and Starbucks, investing heavily in solar energy in recent years. Houston, in particular, is witnessing large-scale deployment of residential solar power systems. “For the most part, we’ve reached a point where you can find a good spot to put solar on just about any home,”, says Jimmy Garrett, Principal and Co-Founder of KW Solar, a Houston-based solar company.
The second-fastest growing solar market in USA is currently experiencing a solar energy boom, and the state is on track to top California as the No. 1 solar power destination in the United States in the coming years. The bright future of the solar industry in Texas has been highlighted by the fact that the number of solar projects in the state increased by 50% in 2018 which, according to Green Mountain Energy, and can provide clean electricity to more than 350,000 homes.
Green Mountain is emerging as a key player in Texas’ transition towards renewable energy to reduce the impact of fossil fuels on the environment, especially in the cities of Dallas and Houston. “We’re trying to change the culture and instill a culture of being more renewable, more sustainable and more environmentally friendly,” said Daniel Richmond, Solar and Strategic Partnerships Manager of Green Mountain Energy.
However, long-term money savings seems to be the primary motivation for residential solar end-users. “Putting a system on your roof now in most cases should cost less than the alternative of buying electricity from the grid, so the primary motivation by far is saving money,”, said Garrett. “So over time you recoup all that upfront investment, but with a finance system, you’re really saving money immediately from day one,” Garrett said.
It’s important to note, however, that industry experts generally disagree with Garrett on the economics of home solar units, and believe that home units which are not heavily subsidized by government incentives are not competitive with grid power, and cost decades to recoup an investment. They argue that high cost financing, which is where solar companies earn much of their profits, makes the investment even more unattractive.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the cost of residential solar has slumped by 47% during the past five years, which signifies that residential solar has become a practical, affordable and investment-friendly energy option for homeowners. However, the cost is still substantial and homes still require grid power for off-sunlight periods.
Net metering, an emerging trend in residential solar in Texas, offers a credit to homeowners who are producing surplus electricity with their solar power systems and sending it back to the grid. “If you’re generating more power than you’re consuming, you’ll actually push that electricity back through your meter”, added Garrett.
The excess electricity generation makes a big difference for utility companies in a populous city like Houston, and they are eager to buy it from homeowners. According to Green Mountain’s policy, when a customer has rooftop solar, they get credit at 100% of what they pay for any energy that they send back to the grid and this is reflected in the energy bill of the customer.
“Net metering allows you to use the grid to store the extra and use it when you need it later,” said Garrett.
Besides savings for owners of rooftop solar, the growth of solar industry is also transforming job market in Texas. Currently, 10,000 jobs are supported by the industry with upward trend expected to continue in the coming years.
“As the industry continues to grow, we’ll see those benefits keep accruing back to Texas and back to Texans,” said Richmond.
Energy companies, like Green Mountain, are also investing in huge solar power projects which may accelerate the transition to renewable power for residential customer electricity plans as well as businesses across Texas.
If you are looking for a green energy plan and would like to check out Green Mountain Energy and other Texas electric companies offering renewable energy plans, use the zip code box on the upper left corner of the page and you’ll find rates from the top electricity providers in Texas on Home Energy Club. You can also use your power to choose an energy plan in Texas that’s the right fit for your home with our the free guide, The Savvy Shopper’s 10-minute Guide to Choosing the Best Energy Plans in Texas.