Intense heatwave benefitting Houston’s solar energy customers
June 27, 2023
Originally posted by Fox26
HOUSTON – The sunny weather that’s been helping keep Houston temperatures so high has also been a great benefit for some of our neighbors who invested in ‘solar,’ and are feeling pretty smart, right now. For many of them, the sunshine is paying to keep their lights and air conditioning on. When we met Brian Hiatt last summer, he was frustrated waiting for approval to connect his 21-kilowatt solar system to the grid.
“I’m really curious and excited to get the chance to turn it on,” he told us.
Now resolved, his solar panels can make more electricity than he can use, and he gets paid for the extra that he puts back into transmission lines. Some version of that story is a common one, where more and more residential roofs sport a collection of solar panels to power the home. Even with the cost of installation added in, consumers are grateful for the sun.
In Richmond, a homeowner who didn’t want to share his name, but is happy with his solar installation says, “My electric bill is less than half of what it was last summer, even with the solar note included,” the homeowner said. “Last month, my bill was $55.”
The average price for residential solar, in Texas, is a little more than $13,000 for a 5-kilowatt system. While federal credits and incentives from installers can lower some up-front costs, much of that money must be paid back. However, as ERCOT shows a significant contribution from solar powering the Texas grid, solar sellers say these hot summer days can be a powerful part of their pitch.
“People are starting to understand that there are alternatives out there, and options,” says Freedom Solar’s Aaron Heth. “Energy independence is one thing that’s on everybody’s mind, right now.”
That eventual independence is what attracted the Amaro family. Their solar panels were just installed, and they’re excited about the future.
“By the time we retire, ideally, we won’t have electricity bills, anymore,” says Ruth Amaro.
It’s a promise that could have more Texas roofs catching some profitable rays.
“The sun is always shining, down here in Texas, it seems,” says Heth.
The idea, from the solar industry, is to trade the cost of an electricity bill for the investment cost of making the power for yourself. In most cases, that’s an even trade. On the other hand, with enough solar and enough sun, those panels could be a money-maker.