Until just recently, Texas was not even among the top 10 states for solar energy, thus many were surprised when the Lone Star State was ranked #3 in the U.S. for solar jobs in 2016. Texas is adopting solar at one of the fastest rates in the country, and for good reason. Prices dropped 20 percent last year, and a number of utilities across the state launched or extended major incentive programs for solar PV systems. In this article we’ll break down Texas solar prices and use a case study to explain how comparison shopping can help homeowners get a better deal.
How much do solar panels cost in Texas?
As of the end of 2016, the average cost for a solar panel system in Texas was $3.26 per watt. Because the typical system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts or 5,000 watts, the average price of a solar system in the state of Texas is $16,300 before any rebates and incentives like the sizable solar ITC.
Though this price may seem affordable on its own, it’s beneficial to understand how Texas solar prices stack up with the rest of the country. The following data table from quotes offered to consumers on the EnergySage solar marketplace can offer insight as to why Texas’ solar industry is booming.
Texas vs national average solar pricing table
|SYSTEM SIZE||NATIONAL AVERAGE COST (With ITC)||Texas AVERAGE COST (With ITC)|
*Note – prices in this table have the 30% Federal solar subsidy already included
The above dataset reveals a large disparity between typical solar prices in Texas and the rest of the country. When looking at the solar industry as a whole, Texas is without a doubt one of the most affordable places to go solar in the U.S.
Texas solar case study: new opportunities open up for residential owners
Tim Cherry has been thinking about going solar for a long time. For the past forty years he’s been contemplating putting panels on the buildings on his 75 acre farm near Nacogdoches, Texas. But Tim wasn’t able to find an installer that he felt comfortable with, and he wasn’t sure about the price, until he got the information he needed on the EnergySage Marketplace.
Tim had always kept his eye on the price of putting a solar system on his home, but felt that it was just out of his reach. “I was sure it would be somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 and I don’t have that kind of money to spend.”
He knew prices were dropping though, and solar was a reality for a lot of people in places less sunny than Texas. When he would visit his son in Vermont, he noticed lots of homeowners had solar panels. “My idea was to find a company I liked up in Vermont and ask them to come down and do the installation in December or February, when they wouldn’t be doing much work.”
After reading an article in Mother Earth News about EnergySage, his plans became less complicated. Tim used the Solar Marketplace to start looking for the solar solution that would work for him. There he got the information he needed about what kind of solar energy would be right for his property. He received three quotes from installers working in his area (saving him a cross country trip) and decided to go with Circular Energy.
The project was moving along smoothly until it came time to hook Tim’s system up to the grid. Tim buys his power from the Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative. But Deep East Texas had never had a customer use solar energy before, and they were unsure about how to handle the administrative side of Tim’s solar system.
A successful story of net metering, solar installers in Texas and “magic”
Tim and Deep East Texas came to an agreement, Tim would serve as a pilot program for solar use. Deep East Texas would bill Tim using net metering, meaning Tim would use the power he generates first and then if there is extra, Deep East Texas would credit him for it. Or if Tim needs more he can buy power from the grid. Tim agreed to share data with Deep East Texas on how much his solar system produces and at what time so that they can have a first hand example of residential solar on their grid.
No one from Deep East Texas was available to speak with us by press time, but we will continue to reach out to them and include their point of view as this story continues.
Tim’s system is now up and running. He has 30 LG panels and a SMA inverter as well as an eGauge monitoring system. He expects his system to meet about 80% of his energy consumption needs annually, as it was designed to do.
When the photovoltaic system was installed, the engineers set Tim’s meter to read 1000 kilowatt hours as a baseline. Six days after installation, his electric meter reads only 1032 kilowatt hours.
“It’s like magic, it’s just like magic.” he says.