Making the Switch to Solar While Living in Texas
If you live in Texas, then you’ve almost certainly noticed solar panels popping up on rooftops in your neighborhood. Solar energy is an attractive option just about anywhere, but Texas’ ample sunshine makes it an especially ideal place to go solar. Texans may not enjoy the same incentives found elsewhere, but solar arrays have still become a popular home improvement project in the Lone Star State.
Renewable Portfolio Standard in Texas
Back in 2005, Texas lawmakers set a 20-year goal of surpassing 10,000 MW of renewable energy capacity. They weren’t expecting the solar gold rush that ensued, and that aim was surpassed as early as 2009. Unfortunately, the legislature has yet to update the RPS to reflect solar’s speedy proliferation.
Texas is a big place, and while its current solar capacity of 13.35 MW may seem impressive, it actually only accounts for 3.25% of the state’s power consumption. Solar advocates would like to see the state’s RPS bumped up to reflect its high demand for electricity.
In addition, the Lone Star State’s RPS lacks a solar carve-out, which would require a certain percentage of renewable energy to come from solar.
Texas Solar Energy Savings
Texas is basically synonymous with oil, and that could account for its $0.12/kwh electricity costs. The problem is that Texas’ below-average electricity pricing ignores the unfortunate environmental and economic externalities associated with sourcing energy from fossil fuels.
It’s estimated that on average, solar lessees can expect to save around $220 per year on energy bills. Not a king’s ransom, but it’s an attractive bonus, nonetheless.
Texas Solar Tax Incentives
Some states offer income tax rebates for solar purchasers. Texas doesn’t have a state income tax, and it’s hard to complain about that. There’s no rebate, but who cares?
Unfortunately, Texas lawmakers haven’t seen fit to waive sales taxes on solar installations. Sales tax rates in the state range from 6.25% to 8.25%, depending on location.
Here’s a bit of good news: Texas exempts property value gains resulting from solar installations from property tax assessments, making solar a great way to add value to your home without increasing your tax bill.
Texas Solar Rebates
The Lone Star State doesn’t have a statewide rebate program, but certain utilities offer rebates to solar adopters, and some of them are quite generous. For example, Austin Energy offers rebates of $1,000 per installed kW of solar capacity for PV systems of up to 10kW in size. As of this writing, Denton Municipal Electric offers rebates of $1,500 per kW.
The bottom line is this: you may qualify for a solar rebate in Texas, but you’ll want to check with your utility for more details.
Federal Solar Tax Credits for Texas Residents
TX residents are eligible for the generous 30% federal solar tax credit. The credit applies to qualified solar installation and purchase expenses.
Solar customers can also take accelerated depreciation of 20% of the total system cost each year for a period of five years.
[Photo Via: Texas Observer]
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