Residents in cities like San Antonio and Austin are seeing solar panels being installed on homes and businesses alike at a record breaking pace. Since 2009 solar panel prices have dropped 80% across the country and thanks to forward-thinking programs and leadership by CPS Energy (utility serving San Antonio), Austin and San Antonio are ranked in the top ten cities nationally for solar power adoption in 2016.
These programs offer large rebates for homeowners and businesses to invest in clean, renewable solar power. Currently, CPS Energy offers a $.80 / watt rebate payable to the owner of the solar panels. For example, when a homeowner purchases an 8 kW (8,000 watts) solar system they’ll receive a rebate check for $6,400 (.80*8,000 watts). The average price of an installed solar system in those cities can range from $4.00 and $4.50 per watt and in conjunction with the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (Solar ITC) of 30%, self-generators can see up to 50% off their investment, no brainer, right? Right!
So, what about rebates and local incentives in the greater Houston area? Currently, H-town does not offer any local rebates or incentives for solar installation, yet that is actually not a big factor in this developing market and homeowners and businesses in the energy capital of the world are still signing up to make the switch to solar power faster than most realize.
The awareness of solar power in Houston is still in its infancy. More often than not, homeowners and businesses that adopt solar power are trail blazers and have no knowledge of friends, family, or coworkers that have “Gone Solar”. This is an early adoption market and because of that, solar power is a lot less expensive in Houston than it is in a more mature market like Austin or San Antonio. Let’s look at the numbers.
The average price per watt of an installed solar array in Houston is between $3.00 and $3.50 / watt, a full $1.00 per watt less than Austin or San Antonio. That’s 33% LESS than the same install in a more mature solar power market, and let’s not forget we live in the fastest growing part of the country driving electric rates up incrementally every year. So you can see that not having rebates locally is contributing to the lack of awareness of solar power in Houston, but is also keeping solar install costs at an all-time low making going solar in the energy capital of the world a “no brainer”!