Topics

Solar Energy Panels in Austin, Texas.

Texas Solar Power

Background

Solar power, or photovoltaic power, is an inexhaustible energy source that converts sunlight into electricity. Thirty years ago, solar power was an experimental power source. Today, lower production costs, greater dependability and ease of use have led to a wider acceptance of solar technology, making it a major energy source across the nation.

In Texas, solar power is used for a variety of purposes including, powering homes, school crosswalk warning signs and water pumping systems. Texas is ranked first in solar energy potential according to the State Energy Conversation Office (SECO) but is currently only tenth in solar energy production.

With a mostly sunny climate, renewable energy companies are looking at Texas as the next frontier for solar energy production. Despite the state’s tremendous potential for solar power, there are few state wide incentives to draw in more green companies. In recent years numerous bills have been filed in the legislature to push for new incentives to energize the industry but very few have passed. A recent bill proposed a statewide rebate for solar projects. That initiative would have been funded by additional charges on electric bills, including a $1 or $2 per month fee for residential ratepayers. Opponents to the legislation claimed it was unfair for electricity customers to pay the surcharge when only customers that participate in the rebate program would have benefited.

A now defunct solar project proposed for Marfa, Texas strongly divided the community between those who commended the prospect of new jobs and tax revenue in the state and those who worried that large solar satellites would spoil the desert landscape.

Solar power advocates point to the potential for job growth in Texas, as new solar projects continue to pop up across the state. A 2010 National Solar Jobs Census ranks Texas third among states, with an estimated 6,400 solar jobs at 170 companies.

Blue Wing Farm in San Antonio is the largest solar farm in Texas. The 140-acre site was built in 2010 and generates enough energy to power 1,800 homes.

Latest Posts

Texas’ Solar Challenge: Lessons Learned From Arizona, California

From Fronteras:  MARFA, Texas — Texas has been called an energy superpower. Fracking technology is allowing Texas producers to extract vast amounts of oil and natural that were once out of reach. The state pumps more natural gas that any other. And it leads the country in wind energy. But Texas ranks eighth in solar power. Three attempts by [...]

Largest Single Solar Plant in the State Planned for West Texas

From KRTS Marfa Public Radio: A California company has won a contract to build a 150-megawatt solar plant in West Texas. It would be the largest single plant built in the state so far, second only to the 400 mw system of plants planned for San Antonio. San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy isn’t saying where exactly it will build the plant. CEO [...]

Austin’s Energy Mix Just Got Much Sunnier

From KUT News:  Austin Energy will soon be getting more of its power from the sun. The city-owned electric utility has signed a deal, announced today, with a San Francisco-based firm to build the single-largest solar facility in Texas by 2016. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, Recurrent Energy will build a 150-megawatt solar farm in [...]

Solar Comes to the Super Bowl

Sunday’s big game will be notable for being the first “Mass Transit” Super Bowl: you can’t take a cab or a limo, and parking passes are extremely limited and expensive. If you want to get to the game, you’re likely going to be taking a train or the bus. It’s also a greener super bowl [...]

How One Austin Church Could Lead to More Urban Solar Power

The promise of harnessing the power of the sun and turning it into renewable energy has attracted countless businesses, governments and environmental groups. But it might be a church here in Austin that ends up bringing one of the next breakthroughs in solar technology. To understand the scope of this project, it helps to know [...]

Report: Solar Can Cut Summer Peak Power Demand in Half in Texas

Rooftop solar panels can result in significant power savings for homes in Texas during the summer, according to new research from the Pecan Street Research Institute. And by doing so, it could help lessen the strain on the Texas electric grid. The Pecan Street Research Institute is a collection of energy-efficient, innovative homes (many with solar [...]

Why Electric Cars May Not End Up Stressing the Texas Grid

The rise of electric cars in Texas has brought up a concerning scenario: What if too many cars charge their batteries at the wrong time, potentially overloading the Texas grid? If, say, thousands of cars all plug in during a hot Texas summer weekday afternoon, when power supplies are already tight, would it possibly be [...]

For Texas Electricity Customers, Here Comes the Sun

While Texas leads the nation in the production of oil, natural gas and wind energy, the sunny state is lagging a little in the solar energy race. Texas comes seventh in installed solar, but ranks first in potential for solar energy. Several new developments in the state’s energy industry may begin to change that. If [...]

Powered by the Sun, But Off to a Slow Start

It’s a sweltering Texas summer day in late June, and here at the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 race track in Austin, the stands are empty. Just last fall, they were filled with fans witnessing the deafening roar of cars going upward of 200 miles an hour. But if you were to listen closely [...]

Solar-Powered Public Property Bill Backed by Education, Military

A bill that would increase the amount of renewable electricity on publicly-owned land received support from educators, environmentalists and the military at the Capitol Tuesday. An Army attorney, high school science teacher and an environmental advocate all testified in support of SB 1586, authored by Sen. Jose R. Rodriguez, D-El Paso, at a Senate Business and Commerce [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education