Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Houston Solar Industry Isn't So Sunny

To be an electric consumer in Houston can be daunting. Just take a look at this chart comparing electric companies in the Space City. The good news is that, because of the deregulated market in Houston, rates are less than other Texas cities. The bad news is that there is no incentive for solar and so solar energy in Houston is more expensive than other Texas cities.

Austin and San Antonio have publicly owned utilities and can, therefore, set goals for solar energy. In Houston solar power lags far behind other Texas cities, Ryan Holeywell writes: "Austin Energy, for example, offers a solar rebate program that pays customers $1,250 per kilowatt of solar capacity they install. It also has a financing program that can offer loans for solar infrastructure of up to $20,000, according to the report. CPS Energy in San Antonio has a solar rebate program too, with extra funding for customers who use local solar installers."

In the long run, photovoltaic solar energy will be the most cost effective alternative for consumers. You pay for the equipment but, from that point onward, you don't pay for the electricity. You also shouldn't have to pay a utility for increasingly antiquated power stations run by natural gas produced by hydrofracking, a process which consumes billions of gallons of water, threatens ground-water supplies, and creates environmental havoc above ground. Those same power plants use billions of gallons of water both for running the turbines and then for keeping the plant cool. 

It is unfortunate that El Paso Electric Company has chosen to try to crush the solar industry with all of its jobs and local entrepreneurs. Eco El Paso has become an Intervenor in the EPEC rate hike case before the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). Through Public Citizen they have an action petition online that sends your opposition note to the Mayor and City Council. HERE is the link. There is also a separate petition about the rate hike nonsense HERE. Links to both may be found in the right hand column of this blog.

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