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Solar Rebates and Incentives for Texas

“Wind Capital of the World!” signs proudly declare as you drive into central Texas, where, like salt and pepper, wind turbines and oil wells share the expansive landscape. The majority of states now have them, but in 1999, Texas was one of the first to adopt a renewable energy mandate. Although not the strongest of renewable portfolio standards, law does require a minimum of 5,880 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to be generated in Texas by 2015 (about 5 percent of state demand), including 500 MW of non-wind energy.
Still, nearly all of the renewable energy harvested to date is wind power. As of yet, solar power has not been specifically incentivized very much at the state level, despite Texas being a very sunny state. Yet cities like Austin and San Antonio are leading the way on a local level. As part of their respective RPS’s, Austin Energy has set a target of 100 MW of solar power by 2020, and San Antonio’s City Public Service municipal utility wants 100 MW of non-wind energy. They already have 27 MW of solar capacity.
Following are incentives available to residents of Austin, San Antonio and the rest of the Lone Star State:
PACE Financing
Texas law allows municipalities in the state to develop their own Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs, which provide financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades to be paid back through an assessment on annual property taxes. Loans are tied to the property, not the homeowner, so the debt stays with the property if ownership changes hands. Eligible renewable technologies; financing terms, including interest rates; and maximum incentive amounts are all determined locally. Contact your local government to find out if a local version of PACE is offered.
Renewable Energy Systems Property Tax Exemption
Texas law also states that 100 percent of the home value accrued by the installation of a renewable energy system (including home solar power), will be exempt from state property taxes. Solar thermal and solar electric systems are eligible, and in a rather unique twist, “solar” is given a broad definition that includes some biomass systems such as anaerobic digestion because of photosynthesis. See the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for more information.
Local Rebate Programs
Just southwest of Austin, the city of Sunset Valley offers homeowners rebates for solar electric systems and solar water heaters. The electricity rebate pays $0.75 per watt AC with a maximum incentive of $2,250. This rebate supplements that offered by Austin Energy, which pays $2.50 per watt AC up to $15,000. Sunset Valley‘s solar water heating rebate pays 30 percent of the installed system cost up to $2,000. Again, this program is meant to supplement Austin Energy’s rebate of $1,500 for new home systems and $2,000 for retrofit solar water heaters. For both Sunset Valley rebates, homeowners must first be approved for the Austin Energy rebates.
Utility Solar Rebates

Several utilities in Texas offer rebates for home solar power systems, no doubt to satisfy local and/or state non-wind renewable energy mandates. Most offer between $2.00 and $3.00 per watt for PV systems with various maximums. Rebates for solar hot water systems vary widely. For more details, look up your utility in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE),which contains detailed summaries and links to the appropriate utility webpage.

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