TexasOver the last ten years, the solar power industry in Texas has evolved a lot. Texas has been ranked the fourth top state for solar power employment and seventh in terms of solar power output capacity, which is an impressive feat. It’s clear that Texas is a solar power-friendly state in terms of the industry itself, but what about homeowners? Can individuals get involved with renewable energy?

Key Takeaways

  • Texas is generally a solar-power-friendly state, with homeowners now allowed to install solar panels after the closure of a loophole in 2015.
  • HOAs and POAs in Texas have limited grounds to refuse consent for solar panel installations, primarily related to safety and aesthetic concerns.
  • Municipalities and cooperatives (munis and co-ops) in Texas can offer competitive and stable energy prices, and the state’s abundant sunlight makes solar power an environmentally and economically sensible choice for residents.

Solar Panel Laws in Texas

For the most part, Texas is a solar-power-friendly state. However, until 2015, there was a loophole in the law that allowed property developers to block the installation of solar panels on homes in new neighborhoods. That loophole has since been closed, and now homeowners can install solar panels in Texas.

The Texas House Bill (HB)362 was originally intended to prevent Home Owners Associations and Property Owners Associations from restricting the installation of solar panels outright but required homeowners to submit a written request for planning permission to an Architecture Review Committee.

According to the Texas Property Code Section 202.010, HOAs and POAs are only permitted to refuse consent to install solar panels in some highly limited scenarios, such as:

  • If the devices are illegal or would be a danger to public safety
  • The planned installation would be on a common property in the subdivision
  • The panels extend beyond the roofline, are not parallel to the roof, or do not follow the roofline
  • If the panels are installed on the ground and extend above/beyond the fence of the owner’s property
  • The installation is performed in a way that would violate the warranty
  • Any element of the panel is not silver, bronze, or black in tone
  • The panels were installed without approval by the HOA/POA

Senate Bill 1626 prohibits homeowners from installing solar panels during the development phase of the property complex/housing area. Some property developers used this rule as a loophole by keeping their properties “in development” for decades so that they could refuse consent for homeowners to install solar panels. This loophole was closed in 2015 when Bill 1626 was updated to state that only property developments smaller than 50 units could refuse permission for homeowners to install solar panels during the development phase. Bigger property developments are not allowed to refuse permission for solar panels.

Nonprofit Energy Companies

Solar PanelMunis and Co-Ops enjoy being free from the regulation that traditional energy companies are subject to. This means they are not required to participate in the same markets and can focus on their verticals. Because of this, Texans who choose to buy power from a solar nonprofit can often enjoy relatively stable and very low energy prices. Co-ops have the option of “opting in” to the competitive market, but there is no incentive to do so, and it is unusual for co-ops to choose to exercise this right.

There are some registration requirements for solar power companies in Texas. These rules relate to Distributed Generation (DG).

If a DG system generates more than 1 MW, it must be registered with ERCOT. If the system will generate more than 10MW and supply net power to the grid, then there are some additional requirements. At the time of writing, PUCT does not place specific requirements on co-ops or munis. Still, many solar power companies in Texas use PUCT commercial guidelines to guide their developments and as an example of best practice.

Why Texans Choose Solar Power

It makes environmental and economic sense for people who reside in Texas to use solar power since the state enjoys an average of 135 clear days per year, working out at around 2850 hours of sunlight per year for use in solar power generation.

Solar power is readily available, and because the solar industry in Texas is thriving, solar panels are relatively inexpensive, too. The low barrier to entry and high power return combined mean that residents will likely see rapid investment returns.

The Texas Solar Power Association is an organization that works both with homeowners and commercial property owners to advance the development of solar power generation in the state. The association comprises solar panel manufacturers, power plant developers, companies that participate in the power supply lines for residential and commercial properties, and plant developers. The association’s work includes lobbying for legal changes and incentives to encourage the adoption of solar power in the state.

According to the Texas Solar Power Association, the cost of solar panels in the state has fallen by 88% since 2009. At the time of writing, ERCOT supplies 90% of the power load for the state, with a peak supply of 78,000 MW. Using solar power domestically to reduce some of this load makes sense. For home users, standard photovoltaic panels can provide an opportunity to get off-grid for a portion of your power generation.

As of January 2020, there is no statewide grant scheme for solar power for homeowners in Texas, but some local incentives exist. Austin Energy, Oncor, and CPS Energy offer incentives for their customers. There are also rebates for solar power installations offered to homeowners in the Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative, Garland Power Light, and the City of Sunset Valley.

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Map image by Wikimedia Commons User: TUBS / CC-BY-SA-3.0

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Solar Panels Network USA stands at the forefront of solar energy solutions, driven by a team of seasoned solar engineers and energy consultants. With over decades of experience in delivering high-quality solar installations and maintenance, we are committed to promoting sustainable energy through customer-centric, tailored solutions. Our articles reflect this commitment, crafted collaboratively by experts to provide accurate, up-to-date insights into solar technology, ensuring our readers are well-informed and empowered in their solar energy decisions.