Making the case for more solar in Texas

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Texas has the potential to be the leading state in solar energy, but unfortunately the state has lagged other states in solar adoptoin. Green Mountain Energy Company sets course to make a change.

Texas has a huge potential for solar energy and could be a major player in solar energy. The state has over 200 days of sunshine and lots of land. If you include all the usable land (not just rooftops) in Texas, you would have twice the solar potential of any other state, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association SEIA. The reality, however, is that solar adoption is lacking in Texas, due to a number of reasons such as the lack of significant statewide solar subsidies. The state is ranked 15th in solar energy installed according to the SEIA.

Green Mountain Energy Company (GMEC) has set course to make a change by launching the first Texas residential electricity plan backed by 100% solar energy, SolarSPARC (Smart People Accelerating Renewable Change) electricity. Texans who choose this product will also be supporting the development of new solar in the state while receiving credit for the facilities they help fund. Households in competitive electricity markets in Texas can choose the SolarSPARC product starting September 26, 2013. 

“For the first time, Texas consumers can choose 100 percent solar electricity for their home– even if they can’t put it on their roof,” says Shay Ohrel, product innovation manager at GMEC. “The SolarSPARC product enables customers to help us ‘change the way power is made’ by proving demand for solar and leveraging our experience in renewable energy to bring more clean electricity options to Texas.”

SolarSPARC electricity is 100% solar energy and, as Green Mountain solar projects are built, will include a portion of the new Texas-based solar generation. The firm will help customers build new solar generation by contributing $4 per month for each SolarSPARC customer towards developing new solar projects in Texas. Customers will receive an annual bill credit of $11 per solar project they help fund. The credit increases each year as new facilities are funded and could amount to $121 per year for customers who participate in this program for 5 years. Customers have the option of gifting their annual bill credit to the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, which donates solar to non-profit organizations.

Green Mountain is kick-starting the effort by building the first project in advance of customer participation. A 10kW solar project is expected to break ground at the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm near Big Spring in West Texas later this year. Subsequent projects are planned every six months, with the size of each array dependent on consumer demand for the product. According to a national survey by Hart Research, 9 out of 10 Americans support solar and want to see more of it.

Ohrel commented: “The more customers that sign up for the product, the more solar we’ll be able to build. We think Texas can be just as well known for solar as it is for wind, and with this product we’re giving customers a new way to drive local development and tap into Texas’s potential to be a solar power house.”