First, do you simply want to understand better what solar energy for electricity is about? Take a look below for some basic information:
- A two-minute video produced by the U.S. Department of Energy
- More basics in a fun animation from Green Mountain Energy
Next, are you thinking about installing solar panels on a residence or on a commercial building? Here are the fundamentals of any system: The Basics of a PV System.
Important note: Before you proceed with purchasing solar panels, keep in mind that you should first think about ways to make your home or building more energy-efficient. Actions in this area can save you money quickly and might affect the size of any PV system you might later decide to purchase. For advice on homes, look at the Smarter House website of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. For advice on both residential and commercial buildings, consider obtaining a professional energy audit.
For information on government policies and incentives related to solar energy, visit the DSIRE website. This site is maintained by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, with funding from DOE. The organization does a very good job of keeping up-to-date on federal, state, and local policies. On their home page, you can click on Texas on the map of the United States to get a summary of all policies relevant to Texas, or type your zip code into a box to find out more specifically about your area.
For additional information, the following resources may help.
Go Solar Texas. The North Central Council of Governments (NCTCOG) has created an excellent website that serves as a guide for those in the state interested in learning about and looking to install solar on their homes and businesses. NCTCOG has also developed Texas-specific resources on best management practices for local governments whose citizens want to go solar..
Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power. A six-page guide prepared by the Solar Energy Industries Association, the national trade association.
Questions to Ask a Solar Energy Salesperson. This comprehesive list of questions was compiled this year by our colleagues at the New York Solar Energy Society.
Buying or building a new home, or know someone who is? Make sure that they ask for at least a “solar ready” home as defined in Appendix U of the 2015 International Residential Codes.
Also, you may wish to review our Frequently Asked Questions.
There is a federal tax credit of 30% on the costs of a residential installation (net of state and local incentives) that is applicable to systems in operation by the end of 2019. Systems put into operation in 2020 will be eligible for a 26% tax credit, and systems put into operation in 2021 will be eligible for a 20% tax credit. Tax credits will not be available after 2021 for residential projects.
Commercial buildings (including multi-family rental property)
Most of the information contained under “Residences” above is applicable to installations on commercial buildings.
Go Solar Texas. The North Central Council of Governments (NCTCOG) has created an excellent website that serves as a guide for those in the state interested in learning about and looking to install solar on their homes and businesses. NCTCOG has also developed Texas-specific resources on best management practices for local governments whose citizens want to go solar.
For general information on national trends regarding commercial adoption of solar, see an excellent summary by the Solar Energy Industries Association: Solar Means Business.
There is currently a federal tax credit of 30% on the cost of solar installations put into operation on commercial property by the end of 2019. Systems put into operation in 2020 will be eligible for a 26% tax credit, and systems put into operation in 2021 will be eligible for a 20% tax credit. Beginning in 2022 and permanently (under current law), that credit will be reduced to 10%.
Additional information on solar energy
If an interest in installing solar energy on your own property has piqued your interest in what is going on in Texas or nationally with this wonderful energy resource, here are two additional pages on our website that you may wish to look at:
- TXSES’ three-times-a-year e-newsletter, The Solar Reflector
- Our summary of other organizations around the country and what they are doing
Thanks to TXSES for providing this information for HREG.