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Solar installations in Texas

Rockster

Active Member
Oct 22, 2013
3,026
4,710
McKinney, TX
I'm awaiting final engineering drawings from Tesla/Solar City for a 9.3k system with one Powerwall in zip code 75070 ($37k gross cost, including powerwall installation, before any tax credit or rebates for a 31 panel system).

I'm chafing right now because the final design is taking so long. Solar City estimated that I'd have the design one week after their latest site visit and it's now been five weeks and I'm still waiting. To make matters worse, they already designed the system a year ago, before canceling the installation because they weren't ready to work with my electrical cooperative. Supposedly, they're ready to work with them now but more than two months after the most recent contract signing and five weeks after the latest site survey, I'm still waiting for the final design.

My current plan is to wait just a little bit longer before I start calling other solar companies to do the installation instead.
 

McRat

Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2016
5,771
6,080
LA
Great in concept. I can only buy energy from the city and they don't offer any type of tiered plan.

I've already looked at the average & peak usages that is where the size of system comes from. If I could shop companies like my neighbors down the road in Houston I likely wouldn't be shopping solar as they can often get it as low as 6-7 cents/kwh.

Well, hopefully some other reader might find it useful.

Yeah, that sort of sucks when you're locked. But don't feel too bad. Our cheapest TOU in California is .13/kWh and it can skyrocket up past .45 / kWh. And it's pretty much guaranteed to get worse.
 
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LCR1

Active Member
Oct 24, 2017
1,351
1,185
Houston
Total bill price I averaged 6.689 cents last month.

Contact Texas Solar Outfitters here in Houston and ask for Cal Morton, I wasn't able to get the solar install through them because my credit took a dump after the house purchase. However I got multiple quotes from them for different types of systems. 34 - 290 Mission Solar Panels (9.86kw) with power optimizers and single inverter was quoted at $29,676 before any incentives.

EDIT: that quote was a year ago, i'm sure it's dropped since.
 
Hey fellow TMC members. If you are looking for solar in Texas, Freedom Solar Power is the largest residential installer of solar in Texas. Offices and Design Centers in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.
We are also the exclusive Master Dealer for the nations largest provider of Solar Panels in Sunpower complete home solar soultions.
Sunpower is the leader in solar efficiency, aesthetics, and warranty.

Feel free to reach out for more information.
Here is the link to our YouTube page
Freedom Solar Power
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
9,177
13,921
United States
Hey fellow TMC members. If you are looking for solar in Texas, Freedom Solar Power is the largest residential installer of solar in Texas. Offices and Design Centers in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.
We are also the exclusive Master Dealer for the nations largest provider of Solar Panels in Sunpower complete home solar soultions.
Sunpower is the leader in solar efficiency, aesthetics, and warranty.

Feel free to reach out for more information.
Here is the link to our YouTube page
Freedom Solar Power

How much does a typical system cost per watt?
 

reddy

Active Member
Jan 26, 2013
1,092
1,882
Amarillo, TX
I paid about $3.33 for an 18kW system in Amarillo before any incentives or tax credits last year. However i had the panels mounted on their own structure rather than the roof, in order to optimize the angle and point them directly south.

A couple caveats. Our system is 'rated' at 18kW, but even though we point at 180 degrees and have no shading from trees, even on the days where the sun is at the same inclination as our panels we don't ever get 18kW at peak. Even though we are in an area that is relatively dry, there seems to be day to day variation depending on upper atmospheric haze. We range 100 - 125 kwH per day in the summer on a clear day. If you have clouds , your production drops. Our worst day (in December) was a 8 kWh day.

Some installers will install inverters that are actually a little LESS than your panels capacity. Larger inverters have larger electrical loss overhead, and if you almost never hit max capacity you may be better off with an inverter that is smaller and has a smaller loss. The loss is not linear, it's mostly fixed, so you are losing capacity all day every day with an inverter that is too big.

Also, while most regulated utilities in Texas have net metering, many (including ours, Xcel ) do NOT. I am paying $0.11 per kWH to buy power overnight from Xcel, and when I overproduce I am paid $0.023 to $0.026 per kWh. Thus would like to get Powerwalls installed soon.

A great resource to predict your output is here : PVWatts Calculator

Put in your zip code for your address. This factors in your weather for your zip code and how much sun and clouds you get. You can accept the default system losses, or use your actual inverter specs and wiring specs if you know how to. This tool was within a few percentage points of my actual output for the first 9 months (so far) of my solar installation. It was amazing that it knew that we get more clouds in June than we get in May or April.
 
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nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
9,177
13,921
United States
I paid about $3.33 for an 18kW system in Amarillo before any incentives or tax credits last year. However i had the panels mounted on their own structure rather than the roof, in order to optimize the angle and point them directly south.

A couple caveats. Our system is 'rated' at 18kW, but even though we point at 180 degrees and have no shading from trees, even on the days where the sun is at the same inclination as our panels we don't ever get 18kW at peak. Even though we are in an area that is relatively dry, there seems to be day to day variation depending on upper atmospheric haze. We range 100 - 125 kwH per day in the summer on a clear day. If you have clouds , your production drops. Our worst day (in December) was a 8 kWh day.

Some installers will install inverters that are actually a little LESS than your panels capacity. Larger inverters have larger electrical loss overhead, and if you almost never hit max capacity you may be better off with an inverter that is smaller and has a smaller loss. The loss is not linear, it's mostly fixed, so you are losing capacity all day every day with an inverter that is too big.

Also, while most regulated utilities in Texas have net metering, many (including ours, Xcel ) do NOT. I am paying $0.11 per kWH to buy power overnight from Xcel, and when I overproduce I am paid $0.023 to $0.026 per kWh. Thus would like to get Powerwalls installed soon.

A great resource to predict your output is here : PVWatts Calculator

Put in your zip code for your address. This factors in your weather for your zip code and how much sun and clouds you get. You can accept the default system losses, or use your actual inverter specs and wiring specs if you know how to. This tool was within a few percentage points of my actual output for the first 9 months (so far) of my solar installation. It was amazing that it knew that we get more clouds in June than we get in May or April.

SPS Xcel is possibly the most anti-DG utility in the country. They. ARE. TERRRRRIBLE! Here in NM they currently have a fee on solar generation called Rate 59... it's... it's insane. The fee is completely independent of grid use. It's based on usage so installing a power wall would save exactly $0. It would actually cost more since round trip efficiency isn't 100% :(

Check out this bill 2239 MORE exported than imported but STILL a $33.27 bill because you're charged #0.037/kWh USED!!! So you could install a power wall. Produce 1000kWh EXPORT 0 IMPORT 0 but still owe ~$37!! for the energy you produced and used!

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 9.41.15 PM.png
 

reddy

Active Member
Jan 26, 2013
1,092
1,882
Amarillo, TX
SPS Xcel is possibly the most anti-DG utility in the country. They. ARE. TERRRRRIBLE! Here in NM they currently have a fee on solar generation called Rate 59... it's... it's insane. The fee is completely independent of grid use. It's based on usage so installing a power wall would save exactly $0. It would actually cost more since round trip efficiency isn't 100% :(

Check out this bill 2239 MORE exported than imported but STILL a $33.27 bill because you're charged #0.037/kWh USED!!! So you could install a power wall. Produce 1000kWh EXPORT 0 IMPORT 0 but still owe ~$37!! for the energy you produced and used!

View attachment 327464

1) Yes, it is horrible.
2) Our SPS / Xcel Energy deal in Texas is far worse.

The way I read your bill is they credit you 2.4 cents for each kWh you send to Xcel. For every kWh you purchase from them when it’s dark outside , you pay them 3.7 cents per kWh. Once your usage exceeds your production, you pay another 6c a kWh for any consumption.

Our deal is I get a credit of about 2.4 cents but a debit of around 10 -11 cents for purchased energy. Plus I pay a $20 bidirectional meter fee, and $10 service availability and taxes. Here in Texas the same bill would have been about $130 MORE.
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
9,177
13,921
United States
The way I read your bill is they credit you 2.4 cents for each kWh you send to Xcel. For every kWh you purchase from them when it’s dark outside , you pay them 3.7 cents per kWh. Once your usage exceeds your production, you pay another 6c a kWh for any

No... that's not how it works at all.

This is the really frustrating thing about Rate 59... it's so incredibly counter intuitive and it's REALLY hard to explain. Still trying to think of the best way to explain it;

OK... the fee IS NOT based AT ALL on what I purchase from the grid. If I buy ZERO from the grid but I produce 1000kWh I pay $0.037/kWh PRODUCED. In Texas you only pay for what you actually purchase from the grid. In NM SPS charges for Solar Production. Texas doesn't charge you for your production. Only for what you import or purchase from the grid.

At least in TX you can save money with storage. In NM there is no way to avoid Rate 59 because it's not based on energy purchased from the grid.

The actual meter reads might help...

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 9.38.23 PM.png
 
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reddy

Active Member
Jan 26, 2013
1,092
1,882
Amarillo, TX
No... that's not how it works at all.

This is the really frustrating thing about Rate 59... it's so incredibly counter intuitive and it's REALLY hard to explain. Still trying to think of the best way to explain it;

OK... the fee IS NOT based AT ALL on what I purchase from the grid. If I buy ZERO from the grid but I produce 1000kWh I pay $0.037/kWh PRODUCED. In Texas you only pay for what you actually purchase from the grid. In NM SPS charges for Solar Production. Texas doesn't charge you for your production. Only for what you import or purchase from the grid.

At least in TX you can save money with storage. In NM there is no way to avoid Rate 59 because it's not based on energy purchased from the grid.

The actual meter reads might help...

Interesting! How is the standby power number calculated ?

Here is our Xcel bill in Texas. You are still better off.
985327B0-F555-4FBB-93B9-435BBC6AF334.png
 

reddy

Active Member
Jan 26, 2013
1,092
1,882
Amarillo, TX
What I’m assuming from your numbers is that they actually capture your solar generation, 4197, and subtract the net credit, to calculate the standby.

You’re right. Strange. What a creative method ! They had all these coal fired plants on standby for you, in case there was a solar eclipse.

Part of your issue is that you must have a very large system there. You are selling them a lot of electricity. They didn’t have people like you in mind when writing the tariff. Or perhaps they wanted to discourage people like you.
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
9,177
13,921
United States
Interesting! How is the standby power number calculated ?

Here is our Xcel bill in Texas. You are still better off.

Hmmm... not really. Keep in mind that in the month I posted generation exceeded consumption (usage) by 100%. Do you happen to know how much your system produced in the May? We have production meters in NM so SPS has 3 numbers. Production, Exports and Imports. 'Standby' is 'Usage'. Usage = Production - Exports + Imports. That's the real kicker in NM. No matter what you do... you cannot escape Rate 59.

In Texas if you use your energy as it's produced you're not billed for it. In NM you still pay $0.037/kWh :(

That was the infuriating part of SPSs testimony in the last rate case. SPS tried to justify it by using their Texas customers as an example... not the same at all.... If Rate 59 applied to IMPORTS... THEN it would be similar and I wouldn't care as much... I'd just charge my car during the day, get a power wall and mull quietly about how much SPS sucks. No... this is war... legally speaking.

Utility Dive picked up the story recently
 

reddy

Active Member
Jan 26, 2013
1,092
1,882
Amarillo, TX
My solar production in May was 3220 kWh. I consumed 2314 and sold Xcel 906. I bought 1570 from Xcel.

Why don’t you compute your bill with Texas rates, and my bill with NM rates, and see how it shakes out.

Use the higher summer rates ( this was a split bill between winter and summer) , to simplify the calculations.
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
9,177
13,921
United States
Production: 3230
Exports: 906
Imports: 1570
Net Excess Imports: 664
Net Excess Exports: 0

3230 ($0.037) + 664($0.10) = $185.91

+ SVC charge ($10) + DG Metering ($20) = $215.91

If SPS had Rate 59 in TX your bill would have been $215.91... because unlike in TX... you're paying for everything consumed directly too :(
 

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