While Texas is a world leader in wind energy, the state has long lagged others in the adoption of solar energy. With its expansive land and ample sunshine, the state has the largest capacity for solar energy in the nation. Yet, for various reasons, that capacity goes largely unused with the state ranking 15th in the nation in actual solar installations according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Green Mountain Energy, the state’s first and largest renewable energy provider, hopes to change that with the introduction of Texas’ first 100% solar powered retail electricity plan. Named the SolarSPARC™ (Smart People Accelerating Renewable Change) plan, it allows Texans in deregulated areas of the state to source 100% of their electricity from solar without actually having to install solar panels on their rooftop.
The plan is designed to go beyond just providing 100% solar power to consumers. It is designed to help fund future solar installations and promote wider adoption of solar power in the state. The company will contribute $4 per month towards developing new solar projects in Texas for each customer who chooses the SolarSPARC plan.
Additionally, customers will receive bill credit for the facilities they help fund. These credits will start at $11 per solar project they help fund and could reach up to $121 per year after 5 years in the program. Customers will have the option to gift their credits to the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. The Sun Club is a Green Mountain initiative that has to-date helped build more than 575 kW of solar power for non-profit organizations.
“For the first time, Texas consumers can choose 100 percent solar electricity for their home– even if they can’t put it on their roof,” says Shay Ohrel, product innovation manager, Green Mountain Energy Company. “The SolarSPARC product enables customers to help us ‘change the way power is made’ by proving demand for solar and leveraging our experience in renewable energy to bring more clean electricity options to Texas.”
The company is building the first solar project to provide electricity for the program; a 10 kW solar array near Big Spring Texas. Their plan is to break ground on new projects about every 6 months with sizes dependent on customer demand for the plan.
“The more customers that sign up for the product, the more solar we’ll be able to build,” continues Ohrel. “We think Texas can be just as well known for solar as it is for wind, and with this product we’re giving customers a new way to drive local development and tap into Texas’s potential to be a solar power house.”
I think the option for a customer to gift credits towards building new solar panels is a marvelous idea. I’m in California, and solar energy is definitely on the rise here. Solar companies in Sacramento have been working with our local utilities to give rebates and incentives to customers out here, but I haven’t seen much in the way of actually using the credits to fund new projects with the utilities. Quite innovative, if you ask me, and it’s a great way to give to the local communities.