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2019 Solar Buyback Programs and Net Metering in Texas

Plant in the Sun

SOURCE: Solar Panel Incentives in Texas

Solar photovoltaic systems are a source of clean power, having simple maintenance needs and typically lasting for more than two decades. The main challenge when using solar panels is managing their variable energy output: they generate electricity based on the availability of sunshine, unlike a diesel generator that provides power on demand. Generation from a solar power system can exceed consumption at times, especially in homes that are empty during the day.

Utility companies often deploy programs to reward solar PV system owners for surplus generation. These programs are varied, but their common purpose is making surplus generation more valuable for the client.

Ready to go solar? I’ll guide you from quote to installation. - Mary Pressler, Sunfinity Solar Dealer

What is net metering?

  • Net metering basically subtracts solar generation from electricity consumption, and you are only billed for the difference. If generation exceeds consumption, the rules change depending on the utility company: in most cases you get a credit that is rolled over to the next month, and in some rare cases they actually pay you for surplus energy.
  • Feed-in tariffs are rates that apply for surplus electricity exported to the grid. While net metering values consumption and generation equally, a feed-in tariff provides a different price tag for surplus generation. FITs are normally smaller than the retail kWh price, but utility companies may set them higher to incentive solar power in new markets. If the FIT and the retail kWh price are equal, you are basically getting net metering.
  • Performance-based incentives reward you based on generation, even if you don’t have surplus production. This means you get the incentive regardless of whether you consume or export the electricity generated.

Keep in mind that utility companies may create hybrid programs. For example, you may find a company that gives you net metering for all generation below your consumption, switching to a reduced feed-in tariff to pay balances in your favor.

This article will provide an overview of the solar buyback and net metering rules used by electricity retailers in Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.