Solar Power in Austin, TX

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sunny_socal
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Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:22 pm

Solar Power in Austin, TX

Post by sunny_socal » Thu May 24, 2018 9:17 am

Hello, I'm relocating to the Austin metro area. We haven't bought a house yet, but it will likely be in the Leander, Dripping Springs or West Austin areas. Basically anywhere west of I-35 but nothing north of Leander and nothing south of Driftwood/Buda.

Anyone live out there and have solar? I have some questions and can't find a good answer online.

- Does Texas have 'net metering'? If so, does it vary by utility?
- Is Austin Energy the only provider or do the areas outside city limits have other providers/utilities?
- Are there any local/state rebates or is it just the federal rebate?
- Do you think it's worth it to get solar in the Austin area?

We're coming from southern CA and out here solar is a no-brainer. Utilities are finding ways to change the billing in order to reduce the "pay back" from solar (ie. surplus power doesn't create much revenue) but it's still a great way to reduce your bill. My wife wants a pool in Austin and I imagine we'll be running our AC a lot during the summer :wink:

dcabler
Posts: 1085
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:30 am

Re: Solar Power in Austin, TX

Post by dcabler » Thu May 24, 2018 9:25 am

sunny_socal wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:17 am
Hello, I'm relocating to the Austin metro area. We haven't bought a house yet, but it will likely be in the Leander, Dripping Springs or West Austin areas. Basically anywhere west of I-35 but nothing north of Leander and nothing south of Driftwood/Buda.

Anyone live out there and have solar? I have some questions and can't find a good answer online.

- Does Texas have 'net metering'? If so, does it vary by utility?
- Is Austin Energy the only provider or do the areas outside city limits have other providers/utilities?
- Are there any local/state rebates or is it just the federal rebate?
- Do you think it's worth it to get solar in the Austin area?

We're coming from southern CA and out here solar is a no-brainer. Utilities are finding ways to change the billing in order to reduce the "pay back" from solar (ie. surplus power doesn't create much revenue) but it's still a great way to reduce your bill. My wife wants a pool in Austin and I imagine we'll be running our AC a lot during the summer :wink:
I live in Austin. Wow, that's really a wide range of areas you're looking to live in.
I don't have Solar but many people around here do and those that do love it.

In there area where you're looking there are 2 electric utilities: Austin Energy and Pedernales Electric. Their coverage isn't strictly based on city limits as Pedernales does cover some areas inside Austin City Limits (areas that were annexed). I'm just outside the city limits on the south side, just inside Travis County, north of Buda and am covered by Pedernales. Outside of the city limits is almost exclusively Pedernales.

That's about all I have for you.

oko
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 5:01 pm

Re: Solar Power in Austin, TX

Post by oko » Thu May 24, 2018 9:34 am

I am in Austin TX, having 8.75KW solar panels.

1-Varies bu utility. AE pays for your solar energy (close to 10c/KW), but you still pay for your regular usage. IMO this is better than net metering. My bill has been $0 since for last several years.
2-Multiple providers, AE, Pedernales ... Check Austin Energy's web site for coverage area. If you have Austin Energy, you cannot change providers like most other Texans can do.
3-I don't know anything about other providers, but AE has rebates, again check their web site. Several years ago, it was excellent (I got >$18K rebate). Not as good at this time.
4-IMO it is no-brainer. Even if the rebates are smaller now.

One advantage for solar that is not mentioned much is it keeps the roof/attic cooler. Think about it, at ant time up to 6KW (for us) of the power coming from the sun is converted to electricity rather than baking your roof.

Welcome to Austin BTW. You'll be more prepared for hell with this heat (which started pretty earlier this year) :-).

Luke Duke
Posts: 888
Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:44 am
Location: Texas

Re: Solar Power in Austin, TX

Post by Luke Duke » Thu May 24, 2018 10:11 am

Austin Energy is a municipal owned utility, so they offer many rebates and incentives that a deregulated power provider does not.

Valuethinker
Posts: 38814
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Solar Power in Austin, TX

Post by Valuethinker » Thu May 24, 2018 11:05 am

oko wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:34 am
I am in Austin TX, having 8.75KW solar panels.

1-Varies bu utility. AE pays for your solar energy (close to 10c/KW), but you still pay for your regular usage. IMO this is better than net metering. My bill has been $0 since for last several years.
2-Multiple providers, AE, Pedernales ... Check Austin Energy's web site for coverage area. If you have Austin Energy, you cannot change providers like most other Texans can do.
3-I don't know anything about other providers, but AE has rebates, again check their web site. Several years ago, it was excellent (I got >$18K rebate). Not as good at this time.
4-IMO it is no-brainer. Even if the rebates are smaller now.

One advantage for solar that is not mentioned much is it keeps the roof/attic cooler. Think about it, at ant time up to 6KW (for us) of the power coming from the sun is converted to electricity rather than baking your roof.
It is a complex calculation. If your solar panels are c. 20% efficiency, then it's 30 kw of solar insolation that is being avoided.

On the other hand, the other 24 kwhr is either reflected back or (more likely) becomes heat energy. Some of that leaks intor your roofspace via the mounting frame. Could easily be 50%.

If your solar panels are at a steeper angle than your roof (ie the frame stands away from the roof line) then the benefit is greater, if they are flush with the roof, it's likely to be less.

Overall my impression is the effect has not been much studied. Given that: shading generally is pretty important for keeping things cool; and the hottest part of the day is late afternoon (and that can be max production for solar panels) I suspect it is a significant effect.

dcabler
Posts: 1085
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:30 am

Re: Solar Power in Austin, TX

Post by dcabler » Thu May 24, 2018 11:24 am

Luke Duke wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 10:11 am
Austin Energy is a municipal owned utility, so they offer many rebates and incentives that a deregulated power provider does not.
Here's Pedernales Electric website on solar. https://www.pec.coop/your-service/solar-options/

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