Solar in Texas

Solar in Texas
  • Texas has good conditions for solar panels and there are a number of state incentives available
  • Texans can also benefit from federal tax rebates by installing before 2017
  • Complete the form at the top of this page to compare prices of installers operating in Texas or read our guide below

Overview of Solar Systems in Texas

Solar in Texas practically seems like an oxymoron. From the time the Corsicana oil field opened in 1894, and especially when prospectors struck black gold with the Lucas gusher at Spindletop in 1901, Texas has been synonymous with oil. From business to politics to popular culture, oil in Texas is more than the backbone of the economy; it’s a point of pride and way of life. You would think that solar would have a hard time catching on.

And you’d be wrong. No less a personality than T. Boone Pickens — the eccentric billionaire whose fortune and reputation were built on oil — has acknowledged the place of renewables like solar as a means of weaning the United States off foreign sources of energy. The same state and ethos that brought us “Dallas,” J. R. Ewing, and the Houston Oilers has turned out to be fertile ground for solar energy.

It isn’t just famously liberal enclaves like Austin. Texas is ideally situated, and its geography — sunny, mostly flat plains, with plentiful open space — means that the state has the potential to be to solar energy what it’s been to oil for more than a century. Indeed, solar farms in the state already account for more than 100 MW per year of power generation, and residential solar pushes the totals higher still.


 

Solar Rebates and Incentives in Texas

SECO (the State Energy Conservation Office) provides funding mainly to business and institutional entities. The only financial relief it currently offers homeowners comes in the form of property tax exemptions for renewables. From a legislative standpoint, the situation is little better.

While the Texas legislature passed House Bill 1937 in 2009, providing homeowners the opportunity to finance their solar panels via their property taxes, the implementation is currently stuck in a morass of competing local regulations and political wrangling.

Aside from limited local efforts, Federal incentives still exist (more on those here), but there’s no guarantee they will be renewed after they sunset at the end of 2016.


 

Solar Panel Companies in Texas

That isn’t to say that Texas is a lost cause. Far from it. Several national and local installation companies operate in the state, and have offered significant savings and energy independence to forward-thinking Texans.

National Installers Operating in Texas

Texas is served by only a small number of installation companies that have a national profile.

SolarCity, founded in 2006, operates in 14 states and is one of the country’s leading solar installers. If purchasing isn’t on the cards, the company also offers solar leasing. The company also gives back, most notably via the GivePower Foundation, which donates panel-and-battery systems to communities in the developing world with qualifying purchases.

Vivint Solar is a division of Vivint, a company that specializes in smart homes and home security. They offer purchased, leased, or PPA options for solar, along with a mobile application that allows customers to monitor and manage their power usage.

Local Installers Operating in Texas

While Texas hasn’t seen much market penetration by national companies, it is home to dozens of local companies that install solar for residential and business use.

DFW Solar Electric installs both commercial and residential PV systems. Its installations are Energy Sage approved, and the company also provides lease options.

GreenLife Technologies provides installations and service to Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. The company provides ground mount and canopy-mounted systems in addition to rooftop installations.

Lighthouse Solar‘s service area covers New York and Texas (the latter via an office in Austin). The company provides turnkey services from energy audits and monitoring through the initial design, financing, permitting, installation, and service.

Longhorn Solar specializes in residential solar installations in Texas. The company is based in Austin, and operates satellite offices in Dallas and San Antonio.

South Texas Solar Systems is more than just solar. The company provides wind and generator installations in addition to solar, and their PV systems come with warranties of 5 years on service and maintenance, 10 years on inverters, and 25 years on the PV system.


 

In Conclusion

As the National Journal pointed out in May, 2015, Texas is a study in frustration. It’s capable of rivaling California for solar capacity, but its regulatory climate is uniquely — almost perversely — hostile to solar.

Some of this can be chalked up to partisan politics. Some of it also stems from another issue. Texas, like many other states, has a renewable portfolio standard, but no stipulation as to how that energy is sourced. As a result, the state’s wind energy capacity has soared, while solar has largely stagnated. As solar becomes less expensive, however, that picture is slowly changing.

Blessed with open spaces and abundant sunshine, the Republic of Texas may yet have another revolution in store, ushering in a future of clean, sustainable energy.