Update on SPEC Solar
It was a sunny summer in South Texas, and that meant peak production from the rooftop solar panels at San Patricio Electric Cooperative’s office. The record-breaking heat in May also brought plenty of sunshine and our solar panels generated the most energy that month at 1,046 kWh.
From January to July our solar panels generated 5,644 kWh of electricity. We expect to get another 4,000 kWh or so out of our panels for the remainder of the year. Still, that’s not quite enough to power the average residential home in Texas, which uses 13,872 kWh per year according to The U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Nevertheless, the data gathered from these panels helps SPEC analyze and understand the true cost of solar power in our area.
In September 2016, San Patricio Electric Cooperative installed 22 solar panels on the south side of our office building in Sinton at a cost of $24,877. There are 10 panels with string inverters, each with a capacity of 310 watts. And 12 panels with microinverters that have a capacity of 270 watts.
A residential consumer could expect to see a 30 percent tax credit on a like system, bringing the initial cost to $17,414. However, those costs go back up when you factor in financing and maintenance. Financing the system for 20 years, at 5 percent interest will add another $7,912 to the total system cost. Additionally, you could reasonably expect to spend about $500 in maintenance.
In this scenario, the solar array would cost approximately $25,825. Assuming the solar panels generate the same amount of electricity as SPEC’s panels to date, you would generate electricity at a cost of 15.09 cents per kWh.
That’s a bit more expensive than is commonly promoted by solar retailers, but we have found it to be realistic based off of the data we have collected. However, keep in mind that those costs could go down if you’re able to purchase less expensive solar panels or finance at a better rate.
Our average rate for residential members is 10.73 cents per kWh, which includes some wind and hydropower resources. And we are looking into community solar options, which would have a better cost benefit for our members than rooftop solar. We will keep our members informed as those opportunities become available and will continue to publish updates on our solar panels and the information we collect from them.
However, if you choose to install solar power at your residence, please give us a call at 361-364-2220 so we can be part of the process with you.
Renewable Tax Incentives Available
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 brought back some welcome renewable energy tax credits. When signed in February of 2018, the act reinstated a 30 percent tax credit for fuel cells, small wind generation and geothermal heat pumps. The 30 percent credit is available until December 31, 2019. After that date, the available tax credits gradually decrease until 2022 when they go away completely.
Consumers can also get a 30 percent tax credit on qualified expenditures for solar power systems that serve a residence until December 31, 2019. The credit will gradually decrease until it also disappears at the end of 2022.
In addition, a 30 percent tax credit is available for solar hot water heaters until the end of 2019, with decreasing credit amounts available until 2022. To qualify for a solar hot water heater credit, the equipment must provide at least half the energy used to heat the dwelling’s water. Additionally, it must be certified for performance by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation.
More information on these renewable energy tax credits can be found at www.energystar.gov/taxcredits.