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Andrew Burger's picture
Man Friday Energy Ventures

I've worked a pretty diverse range of jobs around the world over the years. I feel fortunate to have found vital, satisfying work, and a career reporting, editing and researching developments in...

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  • Mar 26, 2019 12:53 pm GMT

Texas produces more wind power per person than any other state in the U.S., but its per capita residential solar power capacity is less than one-third the U.S. average in 2017, that despite the state's abundant sunshine, two Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas researchers highlight in a recent report. 

"Hot Texas summers and population growth continue to drive record electricity demand. Converting sunlight that would otherwise heat attics into power would seem to hold promise for homeowners. However, compared with other states with similar sunlight penetration, Texas has been slow to adopt residential solar," Benjamin Meier and Jesse Thompson write.

Solar provides just 0.5 percent of electricity generation in Texas, residential solar just 0.1 percent, they highlight. 

The researchers put forward several reasons for the slow growth: 

- Texas is one of just two states that do not require utilities to purchase surplus energy from residential solar energy systems, i.e. net metering;

- Low electricity prices. What Texas utilities buy back electricity produced behind the meter is below the national average even with net metering. The average price for electricity in Texas is $0.0838 per kilowatt-hour, 20 percent below the national average. That means it takes longer to recoup investments in residential solar power systems. 

- The state's low renewable energy generation requirements may be another reason residential solar uptake has been so slow in Texas. "States that lead in residential solar capacity, such as Arizona and California, have adopted renewable energy production targets of 15 percent or more of total power sold, as well as established solar-specific minimum generation requirements to reduce carbon emissions," they point out.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 26, 2019

Andrew, chief among the various reasons offered by the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank for the lack of Texas's interest in solar is price. Texas residents pay half of what Californians do for electricity, but it wasn't always that way. In 2006, Texans paid $.10/kWh, Californians $.12/kWh. What happened?

Since 2006, Texas has taken advantage of abundant wind resources, held on to its nuclear, and the price of electricity has dropped by $.02/kWh. California has invested in abundant solar resources, eliminated half of its nuclear (essentially, swapped half of it for solar), and the price of electricity has risen $.04/kWh.

I'm told nuclear is uneconomical, but you'd never know it from the graph on p12:


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