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The Case for Passive Rewilding: 'If You Love It, Let It Free'

As ecologists meet to discuss the threat to global biodiversity, some believe that accepting chaos is the best approach.

The patterns seen in the area around Castro Laboreiro aren't unique, with European farmland being abandoned at a rapid pace. estivillml / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Alistair Walsh

Henrique Miguel Pereira likes to tell the story of a grandmother in the northern mountains of Portugal who had never in her life seen a wild boar. She had spent her life in the village of Castro Laboreiro, nestled in the remote peaks of what is now Peneda-Geres National Park.

It should have been prime boar territory, but after centuries of farming and human influence, large mammals had all but disappeared from the area.

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A firefigher walks on a dirt road toward the coal-fired Kemerkoy Thermal Power Plant, at Oren in Milas, Turkey on Aug. 4, 2021. YASIN AKGUL / AFP via Getty Images

Turkey's parliamentarians on Wednesday unanimously approved the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels.

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CHBD / iStock / Getty Images

The sprawling size and sunny days of Texas make it one of the top states for solar energy. If you live in the Lone Star State and are interested in switching to a solar energy system, you may be wondering: What's the average solar panel cost in Texas?

In this article, we'll discuss the cost of solar panels in Texas, what factors affect pricing, Texas' solar incentives and more. Of course, the only way to know for sure how much you would pay to install a solar panel system on your roof is to receive a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company near you. You can get started by filling out the quick form below.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Texas?

Thanks to the growing investment in renewable energy technology statewide, homeowners now enjoy a below-average cost of solar in Texas. Based on market research and data from top brands, we've found the average cost of solar panels in Texas to be $2.69 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $9,953 after the federal solar tax credit. This is especially valuable when you take into account the unpredictable Texas energy rates.

Here's how that average calculates into the cost of the most common sizes of home solar panel systems:

Size of Solar Panel SystemTexas Solar Panel CostCost After Federal Tax Credit

Though this data reflects the statewide averages, you'll need to contact a solar installer near you to get an accurate quote for your home. Savvy customers will get free quotes from multiple companies and compare them to the state averages to make sure they receive the best value possible. Bear in mind that the biggest providers of solar won't always have the best prices.

What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in Texas?

The main factor determining the cost of solar panel installations in Texas is the homeowner's energy needs. No two homes are the same, and installation costs will look far different for a home needing a basic 5kW system and a home needing 10kW with backup power capabilities. The solar financing and installation company a homeowner chooses will also affect a customer's overall solar costs in Texas. Here's how each factor comes into play:

Solar Equipment

Similar to phones, cars and other technology, solar products and system costs vary greatly based on their quality, scale and included features. Some customers may be satisfied with a modest array of affordable solar panels and inverters, while others may opt for a system with premium panels, full-home backup power and cutting-edge energy monitoring technology.

Solar Financing

The overall cost of solar depends significantly on how a customer chooses to finance their system. The three most common solar financing options include paying in cash, taking out a solar loan and solar leasing.

  • The most economical way to purchase solar, an upfront cash purchase provides the best long-term return on investment and the lowest overall cost.
  • Customers can choose to take out a solar loan to purchase the system outright and make monthly payments to repay the loan. The typical payback period for a solar loan averages around 10 years. Systems purchased with a loan are still eligible for the federal solar tax credit.
  • Signing a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) allows a solar customer to rent solar panels from a company or third party. Though requiring the least amount of money upfront, solar leases provide the least amount of overall value. Also, solar leases aren't eligible for the federal tax credit, as the homeowner doesn't actually own the system.

Solar Installation Company

Texas has seen some of the strongest solar energy market growth over the last few years, and the SEIA reports that there are now nearly 600 solar companies based in Texas, and each is looking to expand its market share.

Price ranges can differ significantly based on the installer. Larger solar providers like Sunrun offer the advantage of solar leases and quick installations. Local providers, on the other hand, provide more personalization and competitive prices to undercut the biggest national companies.

Because of this, it's wise to get quotes from a few local and national installers and compare rates — because of the stiff competition between companies, you could end up saving several thousand dollars.

Texas Solar Incentives

For the most part, Texas taxes are administered by local governments. As a result, the state doesn't offer a large number of statewide solar-related policies, and incentives will depend more on the locality in which you live.

However, all homeowners in the state remain eligible for the federal solar tax credit, and there are some statewide local property tax exemptions for both photovoltaic solar and wind-powered renewable energy systems. Let's walk through how to find what incentives are available to you.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

All Texans can claim the federal solar investment tax credit, or ITC, for PV solar panels and energy storage systems. By claiming the ITC on your tax returns, the policy allows you to deduct 26% of the total cost of the solar system from the taxes you owe the federal government.

The tax credit is available to both residential and commercial system owners who have installed solar panels at any point since 2006. The credit is worth 26% through the end of 2022 and will drop to 22% in 2023. It is set to expire at the end of 2023 unless congress extends it.

Net Metering Policies in Texas

Net metering programs allow customers to sell unused solar energy back to their local utility company in exchange for credits that can be cashed in when panels aren't producing energy. Due to the energy bill savings, this incentive can greatly reduce the solar investment payback period.

As is true with most of Texas' solar rebates and incentives, there is not one net metering program that is offered throughout the entire state. Rather, your eligibility will depend on the policy of your local utility company or municipality. Most utilities in the state have a net metering policy, including American Electric Power (AEP), CPS Energy, Green Mountain Energy, El Paso Electric, TXU Energy in Dallas and more.

The rate at which your local utility will compensate for this excess energy will depend on your local policy, so we encourage you to look into the policy offered by your utility company.

Local Solar Rebates in Texas

In addition to identifying your local net metering program, look into any local rebates available to you. Homeowners who live in the top cities for solar in Texas, like Austin, San Marcos or Sunset Valley might have more luck than customers in other areas. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency has a full list of local rebates, solar loan programs and more.

FAQ: Solar Panel Cost Texas

Is it worth going solar in Texas?

Long, sunny days and below-average solar installation costs make Texas one of the best states in the U.S. for generating energy with solar panels. The ample sunshine provides more than enough energy for most families, serving up huge benefits to homes in Texas equipped with solar panels.

How much does it cost to install solar panels in Texas?

As of 2021, the average cost of solar panels in Texas is $2.69 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $9,953 after the federal solar tax credit. This is slightly below the national average due to the resource availability in Texas, current energy costs and the state's available sunlight. The best way to assess how much solar would cost you is to consult local providers near you for a free estimate.

Do solar panels increase home value in Texas?

Solar panels increase home value everywhere, but mostly in areas with generous net metering policies and solar rebates. As such, the proportion at which solar panels increase home value in Texas corresponds with the areas with the most solar-friendly policies.

How much do solar panels cost for a 2,500 sq foot house?

Though knowing the size of a house is helpful in determining how many solar panels could fit on its roof, the energy use of the house is the more important factor in determining solar panel cost in Texas. The higher your energy use, the greater your solar needs will be.

An airplane taking off in Germany. alvarez / E+ / Getty Images

By Natalie Muller and Neil King

On the day that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced a commitment to reach "net zero" CO2 emissions by 2050, the nonprofit organization Atmosfair has opened the world's first plant to produce carbon-neutral jet fuel.

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Ivory-billed woodpecker (right) and pileated woodpecker. Illinois State Museum

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would announce 23 extinctions of birds and fish on Wednesday as the ravages of man-made climate change and habitat destruction continue unabated.

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A wind-solar hybrid photovoltaic power station on Sept. 12, 2020 in Zaozhuang, Shandong Province of China. Li Zongxian / VCG via Getty Images

A group of governments and the private sector on Friday collectively promised more than $400 billion (just over €340 billion) at a high-level summit that called for more urgent action to curb catastrophic climate change.

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More than a third of shark and ray species are directly threatened by extinction, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned on Saturday.

The revelation came in the IUCN's updated Red List assessment on endangered wildlife, which was released at the body's World Conservation Congress in Marseilles, France.

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Floodwater surrounds vehicles following heavy rain on an expressway in Brooklyn, New York on Sept. 2, 2021, as flash flooding and record-breaking rainfall brought by the remnants of Storm Ida swept through the area. ED JONES / AFP via Getty Images

At least eight deaths were reported as heavy rain from Hurricane Ida battered New York City and New England early Thursday.

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An Afghan boy uses a water pump to collect water in Sakhi village on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif on July 19, 2018, during Afghanistan's worst drought in at least a decade. FARSHAD USYAN / AFP via Getty Images

By Jennifer Collins

Forty years of conflict have left many Afghans on the edge of survival — and highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change. Not only is the landlocked country already becoming drier and drier, but it's also just been thrown into more political uncertainty by the Taliban takeover. Experts say it's a recipe for disaster.

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People ride bicycles past the Palais de Justice during a "car free" day in Paris, France on Oct. 1, 2017. It was the third time that the French capital experimented with a car ban. ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP via Getty Images

A speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour (19 miles per hour) came into force on most streets in Paris on Monday.

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A satellite image shows Hurricane Ida crossing western Cuba. NOAA

Hurricane Ida entered the Gulf of Mexico late Friday, as people in the United States' southern state of Louisiana evacuated high-risk areas and stocked up on essentials.

The hurricane is expected to intensify as it reaches the northern Gulf Coast.

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Hikers walk on the GR 34 (Grande Randonnee) walking path in Plerin, western France on Aug. 5, 2021. FRED TANNEAU / AFP via Getty Images

By Jeannette Cwienk

With the pandemic, many people have been vacationing closer to home, bringing down the carbon cost of getting away. And even those covering long distances are increasingly trying to reduce their environmental impact — perhaps by taking the train instead of flying.

But sometimes what looks like an eco-friendly choice isn't as harmless as it seems. Here's some advice from the experts on how to visit the world's beauty spots without contributing to their destruction.

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By Stuart Braun

Mycelium, the silky thread that binds fungus, is being adapted to create everything from shoes to coffins to packaging and robust building materials. Best of all, it literally feeds on trash and agricultural byproducts, detoxifing them along the way.

The biodegradable material that is also grown vertically to save space and uses little water, has emerged as a low emission, circular economy solution in the bid to transition from extractive, carbon-based products.

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