Economics

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Is it cost-effective to install a solar system?

Solarize Houston encourages you to shop around, inform yourself and consult your financial, tax and other advisors and resources to determine whether this offer is right for you.  These are several of the factors many ways to evaluate the cost and financial returns to a solar PV system:

Energy Savings.

Having a solar system protects you from power price increases. You will probably be able to get a good idea your cost/kWh for power generated by the system over its useful life often estimated to be at least 25 years. On the other hand, you won’t know the cost of electricity sold to you by your retail electric provider or utility over that period. The system allows you to hedge against this uncertainty and the possibility of an increase in the price of this power, which may have some value to you.

Home Valuation.

Installing a PV system may add value to your home. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab released in November 2015 suggests that rooftop solar panels owned by their users can significantly increase the value of home. https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/lbnl-1002778.pdf

Net Metering.

Many residential solar system owners draw power from the grid to supplement the electricity generated by the system by contracting with a retail electric provider which buys the excess energy generated by the system. In Texas retail electric providers are not required to buy excess power. In the Houston area in December 2015, several providers such as Green Mountain Energy, MP2 Energy, Reliant Energy, TXU and Amigo and perhaps others offered consumers net metering arrangements. You may want to discuss those arrangements with those providers.

Investment Tax Credit.

Owners of solar systems are entitled to the investment tax credit for 30% of the cost of the solar system installed before December 31, 2019. The credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of federal income tax.

Property Tax Exemption.

Texas exempts solar systems from property tax. To claim this exemption, you will need to complete Texas Comptroller’s Property Tax Form 50-123 Exemption Application for Solar or Wind-Powered Energy Devices and file it with the appraisal district in the county of the location of the system.

No Other Incentives.

Other than the matters described above, Solarize Houston knows of no other incentives, rebates, grants, refunds avail to buyers of solar systems in the Solarize Houston program. Unlike other areas, there are no government or utility incentives available.

Cost Estimator

You can use the tools at pvwatts.nrel.gov to estimate the energy to be produced at your site and the cost of energy at a grid connected PV system located there.

Operating Costs.

Solar systems generally require little operating attention or cost. Cleaning the panels might be required occasionally. However, as long as it rains every once in a while, then nothing extra is needed. You may want to ask your installer for its warranties, operation instructions and experience and for a quote for a maintenance program.