Solar Panel Installers in Texas

Solar Costs Seem Prohibitive At First

For most people it seems a little confusing after researching the whole idea of a solar panel system for a home. The research ultimately leads people to the conclusion that a solar system just isn’t affordable enough to make sense. Considering that the investment could take 30 years to pay back itself a lot of people that bought a solar system would be dead by the time they began to see dividends on their Texas solar panels investment. There are however some solar panel setups that can actually lock you in to a fixed electricity rate and save you money over a short amount of time.

Cogenerating Your Electric Power

Many people have not considered implementing their solar panel system in a cogeneration capacity. Instead of using deep cycle batteries to store power you could sell your generated electricity back directly onto the electric grid and roll your meter back. It sounds too good to be true at first but the Texas government allows you to generate your own power and sell it back onto the electricity grid whenever you want. I have heard that Oncor and Centerpoint are not very easy to work with in making a cogeneration setup like this work but if you hire a licensed solar installer you will have an easier time of it.

Consultation on What Way Will Work Best When Using Solar

I recommend working with a solar panel installer in Texas that sells top of the line solar products. By hiring the best you will be installing state of the art solar equipment and they will be able to save you money by recommending a system that meets your budget. By and large the cogeneration setup is the most popular. You will not be able to power your air conditioner, refrigerator and other appliances and remain off the grid but you will be able to roll back your electric meter significantly. Proper consulting on how best to implement a solar panel system is just as important as the product you end up buying.

Bottom Line, What Will Your Electric Rate Look Like With Solar?

A good solar installation company will be able to tell you what your average electricity rate will be from the power coming off of your solar system. You can then average that rate into the rate you pay your electricity utility in your area and see if it averages down your costs. You will likely discover that it will bring your rate down some while you build green equity in your home.

Contact a Licensed Solar Installer in Texas

To contact a licensed solar panel company that can set you up with tax incentives from the government and put together a quote based on your budget please go to ESS Solar and fill out their contact form.

Contact ESS Solar

Someone will call you back within 2 hours to see how they may be able to help you.

Public Utility Commissions (PUCT) Answer On "Is Deregulation Working?"

Public Utility Commission of Texas Talks Straight

The PUCT today explained why deregulation may not be working as planned in some areas of the state of Texas. There is not a whole lot of data prior to Texas deregulating the electric rates in 2002 but what information we do have has remained inconclusive at this point. Right after deregulation we saw several large electric monopolies become deregulated. “Deregulated” just means that the state of Texas has unbundled the pole and wires charges from the “retail energy rate”. The reason they unbundled the rate is because the pole and wires company is an altogether different operation from the energy trading desk that buys energy in the form of natural gas and other commodities and resells it as electricity to commercial and residential customers. Once the rate was unbundled any new Texas electric company that wanted to could open up business and sell the retail energy to customers while the same pole and wires company you have always used passes through the pole charges onto the electric bill with no markup. If you have picked an alternate electric provider since deregulation you can actually still see the pole and wires company number on the bill in case of an electric outage. The number on the bill helps to confirm to Texas energy customers that they still deal with the company they always have when it comes to the electric service infrastructure and transmission.

An Example Of A Deregulated Electric Utility

TXU Electric Company was deregulated back in 2002 and as you may or may not know they kept their same name when they became an independent Texas electric provider. That means that their pole and wires company was called TXU and their retail energy company was called TXU even though they legally could not be affiliated with the pole and wire division. They were basically two altogether separate companies because legally there could be coercion if they were still affiliated. Imagine if you switched to a different retail electric provider and “TXU” the pole and wires company decided they would get you back by raising your TDSP charges on your bill which covers the pole, wires and meter maintenance? This would be a good way to keep people from leaving TXU since pole and wires charges can sometimes make up 50% or more of your Texas electric bill.

TXU Electric Delivery Had To Rebrand

What ended up happening because of continuous fear and confusion, because the name was so similar to the old monopoly, was a complete rebrand of the pole and wires part of the company. TXU Electric Delivery had to rename themselves “Oncor Electric Delivery” in order for people to distinguish between TXU (The Retail Electric Provider) and TXU (The Pole and Wires Company or TDSP Company, now called Oncor). Even after reading this lengthy explanation many people will still have no idea that TXU just sells the electricity (a paper transaction bought and sold on commodity markets and hedged) and no longer maintains the poles, lines and meters. Even as of today you will still see TXU Electric Delivery as a brand name for Oncor Electric Delivery even though they are no longer called that. Oncor even owns the name “TXU Electric Delivery” although imagine if Microsoft found a company using their brand name even if not in the same line of work? Microsoft would sue their pants off and the company would immediately need to cease and desist all use of their brand name. This is not the case with Oncor as they use Oncor and TXU interchangeably which helps in the confusion process and brings in multiple electricity customers back to TXU Energy Retail Electricity. It would appear that Oncor using TXU as a part of their brand name is an effort to help TXU Energy Retail gather new and existing customers even though they are no longer the same company. Many people call TXU Energy to have their electricity turned on thinking they are calling the poles and wires company. TXU Energy signs the new customers up left and right because of this confusion process and there does not appear to be any end in site. The rate is usually not very competitive in comparison to other retail electric providers in Texas and neither does it need be considering that these customers are signing up on a brand they believe to be their only choice in “turning on new electric service”.

Example of An Alternate Texas Residential Electric Provider To Compare With TXU: Startex Power is currently the cheapest provider: learn more and Champion Energy comes in second place.

Oncor Maintains The Poles, Wires and Meters

So what have we learned? Oncor reads your meter and maintains the electric infrastructure in North Texas. They are the ones who pass through your TDSP charges on a 1 to 1 basis on your retail electric bill. The reason they are called pass through charges is because most retail electric providers like, TXU Energy, Gexa, Startex, Spark, Champion, Bounce Energy and multiple others do not markup the TDSP charges from Oncor but pass them through on a 1 to 1 basis. There are a few Texas electric providers who do in fact markup the TDSP charges while offering a competitive retail electric rate. What ends up happening is you believe that Oncor has past through those charges with no additional markup on your bill, which is the only company who can since they own the electric infrastructure in North Texas. You receive a competitive retail electric rate with no indication, except in fine print in the energy contract, that the TDSP charges have been marked up by the retail electric provider (not Oncor). This allows a few retail electric providers to come away with extra profit margin until the PUCT of Texas makes this an illegal deceptive trade practice. Until the PUCT does something about it some electric providers will continue to do this until bad publicity catches up with them.

No Historical Data On TXU Energy Electric Rates Prior To 2002

There is not a lot of data showing what the last previous 2 years prior to deregulation showed for what electric rates were at for TXU Energy. This information would be useful in understanding what the Texas retail electric rates have done before and after with TXU since deregulation began in 2002. What we would need is the electric usage data file going back before 2002 for a particular company or residence. This can be obtained from Oncor Electric Delivery in the Dallas and East Texas area and from Centerpoint Energy in the Houston area. We would then need some corresponding electric bills prior to deregulation. Any electric bills before 2002 will prove helpful. We can then compile the data and give some estimates of what electric rates have done before and after Texas deregulation in regards to TXU Energy. We would also take into account what natural gas prices have done since deregulation began. There was a time right after deregulation when natural gas spiked up to some historical highs which caused electric rates to drastically rise. This rate spike made it look like deregulation was having the opposite effect that the state of Texas was expecting.

If you have old electric bills and usage data please feel free to fax it to 1-903-484-9222 and we can use it in our analysis. We appreciate your help in this matter.

Texas Deregulation Debate, What Is the Current Controversy?

The debate right now is whether or not Texas deregulation actually caused electric rates to go up instead of down. Many people believe that NOT breaking up the monopolies would have been a better choice. Their reasons have to do with several factors.

Factor 1

One reason has to do with the natural gas spike back in the beginning of 2002. Natural gas has a 90% correlation with electric rates in Texas. Because natural gas spiked so did Texas electric rates and this was at the same time Texas unveiled deregulation. Timing was very bad in this case in giving the Texas public the perception that deregulation works to reduce electric rates.

Factor 2

The second popular reason is that city municipalities and coops near deregulated towns often pay a few cents kWh less for their electricity then the deregulated city next door. These city owned municipalities and coops give the public the perception that deregulation has done nothing but raise rates. The factor that people are not recognizing is that the prior monopoly retail electric providers like TXU, First Choice Power, Entergy, WTU, Reliant, and CPL may have had abnormally higher electric rates then some of the smaller city owned coops and municipalities. The only way to know for sure if this is the case is to provide historical electric usage data and historical electric bills prior to 2002 from one of these retail electric monopolies also known as Texas Affiliate electric providers. You can send us your historical bills and usage data and we would be glad to investigate.

Please call us at 1-800-971-4020

Factor 3

Another point to consider in regards to factor 2 is that not all city owned municipalities and coops have cheaper electric rates then the deregulated Texas electric providers. Take for instance the city of Garland Texas. The city of Garland has many times had higher electric rates in comparison to competitive Texas electric companies like Champion Energy or Startex Power. There are several other municipalities that have historically had much cheaper electric rates then the competitive Texas electric providers in the deregulated counties of the state. One such provider is in the cities of Longview and Marshall Texas. SWEPCO also known as AEP is not deregulated in these areas and is a few cents cheaper then cities just outside of it like Tyler Texas. The only explanation as to why they are able to provide a cheaper electric rate would be related to less advertising dollars spent at competing against multiple other electric companies. Texas has made the record books at being the most competitive electricity market in the world and AEP SWEPCO has avoided the issue of needing to compete with other providers by having absolutely no competition in this area of Texas. They also have the added pressure of needing to keep the rate low so that the city does not decide one day to deregulate the area because of being overcharged by their monopoly electric company. Longview must also contend with the fact that by deregulating the area they could bring in new businesses and jobs to the city which gives them more tax dollars. In the end a Texas city or county may decide to deregulate because the electric rates would be cheaper, they could add tax revenue and new jobs, and the possibility that Texas Energy lobbyists have swayed them.

Oncor Electric Delivery

There are energy efficiency programs for manufacturers in cooperation with the state of Texas and Oncor Electric Delivery previously TXU Electric Delivery. Oncor serves the Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area of the state and can assist in retrofitting a manufacturing facility with the needed demand saving devices and measures to drastically cut the cost of the facilities electricity. In some cases a return on a minimum $10,000 investment in energy saving steps can show a 50% return on investment in 1 year. Try making that in the stock market in a year!


Generally money is enough incentive to get started. Where do I start?

To get started you need to become familiar with Oncor Electric Deliveries steps. There are a few pages of application information you need to fill out regarding the facility to qualify and inform the Oncor agent who will be assisting you along in the process of adding 10’s of thousands of dollars to the bottom line. This doesn’t just benefit you but benefits Oncor as well and the state. Less plants and electricity infrastructure needs to be built if demand loads are reduced in energy consuming facilities like manufacturing facilities. The Energy delivery company have just as much to gain as you do and are required by the state to meet a certain goal each year so if you don’t find them first they may eventually be calling or knocking on your door.

Energy Efficiency Program

If you want to take advantage of some load management programs to bring down the electricity demand used in the facility during peak demand times then you can effectively add even more dollars to the bottom line. Oncor has a few steps you can take to benefit in this way as well with their load management program.

Oncor Load Management Program


Again, these programs are for the Dallas and Fort Worth Texas area for industrial and manufacturing facilities. These services are mainly free services with a small investment from the company which is usually recouped in less then a year.

If you have further questions about this or need help with the process you can give us a call and we can do the leg work for you.
Speak to one of our energy consultants at 1-800-971-4020

Your Home’s Energy Use

How We Use Energy in Our Homes

Heating and Air Conditioning Typically Accounts for the biggest portion of electricity consumption for a homes utility bill.

To begin you want to locate the areas in the house that use the most electricity. Pie chart shows energy use in a typical home: 34% space heating, 34% appliances and lighting, 13% water heating, 11% electric A/C, 8% refrigerator.This type of approach is known as the wholehouse energy efficiency approach. You can bring in a home energy audit specialist who can determine where the energy is escaping from holes and cracks in the homes ducts and exterior entrance and exit ways. Cracks and openings in windows and door seals are a few easy locations to look at. Single pane windows and attics and walls not properly insulated or updated with Radiant Barrier can also cause substantial energy loss. Many regional utilities in Texas such as Oncor Delivery and Centerpoint Energy provide free home energy efficiency programs to assist in making your home a more efficient and bring needed money savings to the bottom line for your families needs. Everybody could use a little extra money and these tips could give you more then just a little extra. Of course, many of these suggestions you could perform yourself but some of them require a utility or energy expert to take a look at. You can learn more about energy tools and audit’s that can help you in your search for energy savings by checking out the Electricity Guide or the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) member page.

Tips On Auditing Home Energy

  • See if the attic insulation is at the proper level, as well as exterior and basement walls, floors, ceilings, and crawl spaces. Go to the Electricity Guide to learn how to properly check your insulation levels.
  • Locate holes and cracks around ceilings, walls, doors, windows, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can cause are to come in and out of a home.
  • Close any open fireplace dampers.
  • Receive yearly air conditioning maintenance and take advantage of HVAC promotional maintenance programs in your area as they come available. You can find the recommended maintenance time frame in the owner’s manual of the air conditioner you bought.
  • Install energystar lighting and switches and monitor how your family uses lighting especially in high traffic areas. You can use lighting controls like dimmers, occupancy sensors, and timers to help reduce lighting usage levels. Replace outdated lightbulbs with compact or standard fluorescent lamps.

Creating a Reliable Plan

At this point you have located everywhere energy is being lost in the house. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do you spend on electricity?
  • Where do you loose the most energy?
  • How long will your energy efficiency investment take to recoup?
  • Are there any additional perks for you that will come from the energy standards you put into place (a more comfortable living space could be one possible example)?
  • How long do you plan to live in your current house you will be updating?
  • Are you able to do these energy saving ideas without needing to hire additional help?
  • How much money can you spend and have you checked what type of maintenance and repairs might be needed?

After you have put your plans in the proper order and know where your top priorities are you can start the energy efficiency project. Hopefully your plan will create an order so that you can buy affordable products that will pay off the most to make your home more efficient for the money. A few phone calls to some experts in town like, Home Depot or Lowes could answer some difficult questions in a few minutes. MaCenterpoint Energy and Oncor Electric Delivery both conduct free energy audits because by helping you they are able to reduce energy demand and not build as many power plants as they would need to otherwise. An energy expert can compare a homes energy bill to the energy system’s in place to see how much each costs a year to run the home. This however is quite easy by just reading the energy label on each appliance and doing a couple simple calculations. You can also hire an energy expert who specializes in performing various energy tests using blower doors, infrared cameras, and surface thermometers to find leaks and drafts. There are many different theories and devices recommended on how to properly test a house and you can research this by googling terms like “blower door”. The energy expert can give you a list of affordable solutions to make the home more energy efficient although most of the things they will recommend are common sense like, cracks around windows being filled, door seals, duct leaks, and updating or maintaining A/C Units. The expert will also calculate the return on investment when compared to older systems being used.

Photo of a ranch style house in winter.
Thermal photograph of ranch style house shows heat escaping through windows, doors, and front porch.

Heat Finding Its Way Out Of Your House
When you heat your house you want to make sure it all stays inside because most spend a majority of their energy dollars on heating their home. This image shows what happens and where it happens in this type of scenario. The  colors show white, yellow, and red which is in order of the least amount of heat loss to the greatest in thermal energy. The red color represents the most in heat loss from the house.

Tips to Find the Best Contractor For The Job

  • Word of mouth is best from family and friends
  • People pay a lot to be in the yellow pages so check it out
  • Find a local company as they are cheap and just as good as going out of town to find someone.
  • Find a licensed and bonded contractor.
  • When receiving bids be sure to get the details in writing and have atleast 3 company bids.
  • Get referrals and ask about experience
  • Call the companies references
  • See if they have any complaints with the Better Business Bureau

Cogeneration

Cogeneration and Electricity

Some people have asked about what programs and government credits are available for those who want to produce their own electricity from solar and wind generation and sell excess energy back on the power grid in their city.

When considering how to go about connecting the power you generate to the power grid you have to consider the extra steps involved in the connection process. Normally the phase angle of an inverter will not match the phase of the AC mains source power from the street power lines, and the inverter will pop. Because of this there are a few more things to consider when connecting up to the power grid.

The idea of producing some of your own energy and using some off the power grid as well as selling the energy back you don’t use from your own production is known as “cogeneration”. In other words, you have some power source at your home (like a running stream, or solar panels, or a big windmill), and sell the excess power back to the power grid. To begin the instruction and education process I would read the wiki on this listed below.

You can also sign up for solar panel news and information updates by filling out the contact page with ESS Solar. They are great about sending out newsletter information about new solar technology and prices as it hits the Texas market. They can also help you understand the cost and viability based on your economic situation of whether a cogeneration setup is your best choice when choosing an off the grid electricity solution. ESS Solar can give you a quote on a cogeneration setup that uses some power from the grid while at the same time selling back the solar power you produce to the Texas electric grid. ESS Solar works with Oncor and Centerpoint utilities to sell your solar energy back on the Texas electricity grid which will literally cause your electric meter to run backwards. Texas law requires that a Texas utility comply with any business or home that wishes to sell their generated power back on the grid. ESS Solar will make sure your solar setup complies with Texas law so that your cogeneration power can be sold back on the Texas electric grid.

Solar Panels in Texas

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogeneration

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