While Texas is one of the sunniest places in the United States, one of its cities is embracing solar energy technology a little less quickly than the others. Compared to seven other cities in Texas, solar energy is the most expensive in Houston, due to a lack of financial incentives for homeowners.
Many cities and states have embraced residential solar power systems, due to the benefits of solar energy such as lack of pollution and other negative effects on the environment. Texas is one of only 10 states where residential solar energy is as cost-efficient as grid-based electricity, even without taking into account various solar incentives offered by the government. The cost of solar panels has drastically decreased since 1977, over 100 times, and solar panels are half the price now that they were in 2008.
Many of the cities in Texas offer solar incentives such as rebates and subsidies that offset the costs of installation. Houston offers no incentives, although property taxes are lower for houses with residential solar panels installed. Cal Morton, an executive of Texas Solar Outfitters, told the Houston Chronicle that the lack of incentives can be explained by the fact that traditional energy is less expensive in Houston than in other cities.
“With solar, you pay to have a system installed and you never have to pay for that electricity again,” he added.
Solar energy is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. Over 32,800 facilities took advantage of solar energy in 2013, an increase of over 40% from 2012. Because Texas experiences over 300 sunny days in a year, solar companies are eager to begin construction there. Even without solar incentives, $174 million was spent investing in solar energy in Texas in 2013. If solar installations grow by only 61% between 2013 and 2025, Texas will be able to generate 20% of its electricity from solar power alone.