Texas. With so much sunshine—the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) ranks it first in terms of solar potential—Texas holds tremendous promise for solar growth in the coming years.
It’s no surprise, then, that the state has made such gains in installed solar. In the 12 months between June 2015 and June 2016, the amount of solar in Texas more than doubled from 206 MW to approximately 500 MW.
“Texas is already number one in the country in terms of wind power generation,” says RER Energy Group Project Developer, Terry Dupuis. “We invested a great deal in grid infrastructure to move energy from the relatively unpopulated western part of the state to more densely populated east Texas. That’s definitely helped us get started.”
Dupuis knows of what he speaks. Following two decades as an engineer and small business owner in the Houston suburbs, he “semi-retired” in 2000 and headed north to live in Nantucket. It was there that he began working in the solar industry in 2006. He has worked as an engineer and consultant for a number of installers, before lending his talents to RER Energy Group. Today, he primarily puts his experience to use writing specs for solar systems, assisting with proposals, and more.
With all of the growth solar is enjoying in Texas, it’s easy to assume the state is handing out attractive incentives to those installing these systems. Not so, Dupuis says.
“First, there’s no state rebate program. Second, there’s no statewide net metering arrangement,” he says. That means those generating solar can’t count on selling excess power to the grid—something residential owners in other states rely on as part of their financial justification. There are a few municipalities with these programs, and it’s true that more progressive cities, Austin and San Antonio in particular, do have net metering arrangements.
Austin is even making strides toward meeting its goal of delivering 100% of its energy with renewables and natural gas by 2020. Dupuis says the companies serving those cities (Austin Electric and Consolidated Public Services, respectively) “…are the only ones with anything like what we see up north.”
But Texas is a big place, so the incentives in Austin and San Antonio benefit a small slice of the region. They’re hardly compelling enough to motivate the multitudes toward solar.
Typically, as solar prices fall, we see install bases growing. There are strong indications that this is beginning to happen in Texas.
With no fewer than 60 solar companies working in Austin alone, however, an industry job count of 7,000 (and climbing) and nearly 10 GW already in queue for grid connection, it seems clear that the growth we’ve seen over the last year won’t be stalling anytime soon.
Don’t be surprised if you see RER Energy Group as part of that BIG ongoing Texas solar movement. And if you’re interested in talking further, contact Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.