SAN ANTONIO – Standing before one of San Antonio’s premiere solar businesses, a group of public officials, environmentalists and solar business owners released a new report showing the enormous potential for Texas to become a world solar leader. The group used the report to call for legislation to make it cost-effective for homeowners and businesses to install solar panels.
“No State in the United States has more solar energy than Texas,” said County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson. “And, Texas has always had more sun that it has ever had oil. The time has come for the Legislature to accelerate the shift to sustainability by making a serious commitment to Texas’s economic as well as its environmental future by mandating a respectable level of solar energy rebates and strengthening “net metering” laws so that this industry can grow to meet the increasing demands for today’s and tomorrow’s energy demands. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to allow to pass us by. So between now and May 31 we literally have a golden opportunity to strike a blow for the energy future of Texas!”
According to the Environment Texas report, SunPower: Texas’ Solar Future, developing a thriving, self-sufficient solar power market in Texas can have considerable benefits for the state—reducing air pollution, protecting consumers from volatile electricity prices, reducing the need to fire up expensive power plants, and avoiding costly upgrades to electricity transmission and distribution systems. A solar market could also bring billions of dollars in investment to the state and create thousands of jobs.
“We can protect our environment and move to a cleaner energy future by using our technological know-how to tap into solar energy,” said Luke Metzger of Environment Texas. “With the best solar resource potential in the nation, high projected energy needs and a considerable existing energy infrastructure and workforce, Texas is in a prime position to be a world solar leader.”
Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston has introduced HB 2226 to create the TexSUN Solar Energy Rebate Program. Funded by a sixty-five cent surcharge on utility bills, rebates will offset the initial cost of installing solar electric power in one’s home or business. The program would provide funds sufficient to help approximately 50,000 Texas homeowners and businesses put solar panels on their roofs. Austin’s municipally owned utility already has a very successful solar rebate program and San Antonio’s City Public Service is considering such a program.
“Representative Coleman’s HB 2226 providing for a solar energy rebates is a very significant contribution to a jump start program for the use of solar power in Texas,” said Bill Sinkin, Chairman of Solar San Antonio. “This bill helps every community in Texas to use our most powerful source of energy and is a great step forward.”
After Austin’s rebate and federal tax credits, an average 3 kilowatt residential solar system on an 1800 square foot house costs about $7000. Homeowners benefit from dramatically lower electric bills that save them money over the lifetime of the photovoltaic system, including immediate savings if they finance the system. However, rebates aren’t currently available in the rest of Texas.
Rep. David Leibowitz (San Antonio) has filed HB 1415 to ensure schools that have installed solar systems receive credit from their utility for excess generation and HB 1651 to prevent homeowners associations from blocking a consumer’s right to install a solar system on their home. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr has filed HB 1958 to ensure that all consumers and businesses receive credit from their utility for excess generation.