Texas is still a little frustrated that it’s not the biggest state anymore, nor home to the United State’s biggest oil reserves. Alaska can claim both those titles, but it can’t best the Lone Star state in one important way, renewable resources. Texas was a big player in the development of its wind resources in the late 1990s. Though it's known for its big wind, the state also has abundant solar resources for photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power installations.
To help Texans adopt renewables, the state offers numerous incentives, like property tax rebates and performance-based incentives. While other states have adopted legislation requiring utilities to offer net metering to their residents, utilities in Texas have the option to offer net metering, but are not mandated to offer it.
When it comes to rebates, however, power suppliers in Texas offer significant rebates to property owners in their service districts, sometimes better rebates than found in other states. And there’s a smorgasbord of utilities in Texas that are offering incentives to their customers.
When George W. Bush was still the Governor of Texas and before Enron became infamous for its accounting practices, Texas was investing heavily in renewable energy, particularly wind. The investments made it the nation’s leader in wind. However, with the Enron scandal, and Bush’s election to the presidency. the state’s investment in wind and other renewables experienced a drought.
More recently, the state has resumed its interest in promoting renewables. As of 2010, it has a renewable portfolio standard, which requires 10,000 megawatts of renewables installed throughout the state by 2025. At least 500 MWs coming from non-wind sources. It will amount to about 10 percent of the state’s current energy use.
With the state’s once large oil reserves and still large natural gas reserves, going renewable might not look all that palatable in terms of energy independence. But, because of the state’s vast geographic landscape and its relatively low population density, having local sources of power generation could help cut down on expensive new transmission lines in the state. Onsite generation will also reduce the distance coal, oil or natural gas needs to travel. So, someday soon you may see cowboys out rustling PV panels and solar concentrators instead of cattle.
Green Building Incentive
Local Grant Program
Local Loan Program
Local Rebate Program
Property Tax Incentive
Sales Tax Incentive
State Grant Program
State Loan Program
Utility Loan Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Efficiency Resource Standard
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Green Power Purchasing
Line Extension Analysis
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Solar/Wind Access Policy
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.
|Program Type||Property-based Financing|
|Required Documentation||Locally Determined|
|Official Web Site||N/A|
Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing allows home, building, and property owners to finance renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects by placing a assessment on the land. The amount financed often is paid via property taxes on a yearly basis until the system is paid off.
The Federal Housing Financing Agency issued a statement in July 2010 concerning the senior lien status associated with most PACE programs that has suspended PACE financing for now.
In Texas, the PACE statutes are carried out by local governments. The only way to find out if a local government offers PACE financing in Texas is to call them or visit their website. Not all local governments offer PACE financing.
The legislation that enabled PACE in Texas was enacted in May 2009. It allows municipalities to create assessments or loans for property owners that want to finance renewable installations or energy efficiency projects on their property. But most of the details are left up to the local municipality.
To enable local PACE financing, a municipality must first pass a resolution stating its intent to designate at least part of the area (if not the whole area) where properties are eligible for the assessment. The local government’s resolution must be heard publicly and receive feedback from constituents, and it has to include proposed details of the program.
The plan must determine which renewables and energy-efficiency measures will be accepted, develop a ranking request methodology, determine whether or not contractors must be used or if it can be self-installed, what the maximum allowable loan amount is, develop an assessment boundary map, a draft contract, and the ability to ensure that property owners applying for the assessment can fulfill the financial obligations of the assessment, and the municipality has to figure out if it will finance the PACE funds, whether directly or with proceeds from bonds.
After all the conditions are met, property owners living in the assessment area can opt-in to the program. When the agreement is finalized and funding is distributed, a lien is placed on the property and remains until fully repaid.
|Technologies||PV, other renewables (dependent on utility)|
|Amount||Dependent on utility|
|Required Documentation||Dependent on utility|
|Official Web Site||Check your local utility’s site|
Although Texas itself does not offer rebates for installing photovoltaic (PV) or other renewables, utilities throughout the state offer rebates to home and building owners that want to install solar. Since each of these is their own entity, people wishing to install solar should contact their utility to see if they offer a rebate program. At least one offers building owners up to $25,000 for installing PV on a home, for instance. The amounts vary depending on system size, technology, and the utility.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
Photoviltaics, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Geothermal Electric, Anaerobic Digestion, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Landfill Gas
|Amount||Determined by participating utilities|
|Required Documentation||Check with you local energy provider to determine whether your utility offers net metering. For Green Mountain, Interconnection Agreement and enrollment|
|Official Web Site||http://www.greenmountainenergy.com/renewablerewards/#3|
Texas does not offer a state-wide net-metering program. But Green Mountain Energy, for instance, is a green power retailer that purchases excess photovoltaic (PV) and wind energy produced by Texas property owners at the same rate they sell it to customers, up to 500 kWh per month. After that, the rate is reduced to 50 percent of Green Mountain’s retail rate. To qualify for the Green Mountain Energy program, property owners need to do three things. They must have an Interconnection Agreement in place with their Transmission and Distribution Service Provider. The provider must install a bi-directional meter (the provider may charge the customer/generator, which will be on their Green Mountain bill). And customer/generators have to enroll in Green Mountain’s Renewable Rewards product.
Other electric suppliers may offer net metering to customer generators for their excess generation. But they’re not required to. Interested Texans should talk to their electric provider to determine whether such a program is offered.
|Program Type||Property Tax Deduction|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Water Heat, Passive Solar Space Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Wind, Biomass, Storage Technologies, Solar Pool Heating, Anaerobic Digestion|
|Amount||Exemption equal to extra value added to property via solar energy installation|
|Required Documentation||Form 50-123|
|Official Web Site||http://www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/re_incentives-taxcode-statutes.htm|
Under the Texas property tax code, property owners are allowed to exempt the value that a solar-power or other renewable-energy installation adds to the value of the property. So, if a resident added a $30,000 PV-system to their $180,000 property, they would be able to exempt only the appraised value of the system from their property tax. Which would be $30,000 of the $210,000 value of the property after installing the system.
This exemption covers a broad array of solar energy products, including PV, solar thermal power and more. Under the term “solar energy device,” the state includes “the production and distribution of thermal, mechanical, or electrical energy for on-site use, or devices used to store that energy.” Solar may also refer to biomass technologies in Texas.
The state maintains a list of eligible devices at the link above.
To qualify, applicants must fill out state tax Form 50-123, “Exemption Application for Solar or Wind-Powered Energy Devices."