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A first round of motions was passed Tuesday by the 1,300 government and civil society members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at its World Conservation Congress taking place in Hawaii. These include a ban on gillnet fishing in Mexico that threatens the vaquita porpoise and also restrictions on the illegal trade of pangolins.

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Erik Hoffner
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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
5kW$13,450$9,953
6kW$16,140$11,944
7kW$18,830$13,934
8kW$21,520$15,925
9kW$24,210$17,915
10kW$26,900$19,906

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.

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Erik Hoffner

When a land trust in Grayslake, Illinois, made a strategic decision in 2005 to include farmland in its list of property types to preserve, it joined scores of traditional "woods and waters" trusts across the U.S. which are increasingly preserving agricultural lands and building local food systems.

While it made sense strategically, since much of the county’s remaining forested and open land has already been conserved, it was also right on mission for Conserve Lake County (CLC). As they got into it, the CLC leadership realized that they didn’t want to convert purchased farms to natural uses, though, but rather to keep them in farming.

Yet the conventional corn and soybean farming practiced widely in the region was not on-mission, given the known impacts of those practices. “That sent us searching for a different kind of farming more in keeping with our mission of improving land and water health,” explained Steve Barg, CLC’s executive director. Because their preserved agricultural lands are farmed more sustainably, they were then pulled into the nascent food system conversation in the county and are now leading efforts to develop its local food economy.

Renovations underway at Casey Farm Center for Land Health. Photo: Conserve Lake County

While land trusts that specialize in farmland, like American Farmland Trust, have been around a long time, this trend of conventional land trusts wading into food systems work is much newer, and it’s growing. Statistics shared by the Land Trust Alliance (LTA), found that of 912 member trusts surveyed in 2010, 22 percent reported that farm and ranch preservation was “very important,” and 39 percent said it was “extremely important.” Well over half of the LTA members, then, are strongly invested in this work (for more stats, see American Farmland Trust’s 2012 survey of land trusts that specifically work to preserve farms and ranches).

When asked about the interest, Rob Aldrich, director of communications for the LTA, said he’s been watching it trend steadily upward since the early 2000s, and sees land trusts getting involved all along the spectrum of activities within the new food movement. One of his favorite examples is Massachusetts Audubon, “… a land conservation organization dedicated to saving bird habitat, which is now doing community gardening in some of their sanctuaries. Why? Because that’s what their communities need, and they want to use their resources to address community needs that also blend with their mission.”

Scott Chaskey, Quail Hill’s farmer-poet, surrounded here by 2012′s garlic crop. Photo: Erik Hoffner

And Mass Audubon isn’t alone: the biggest and oldest land trust in the state, The Trustees of Reservations, employs an Agriculture Program Director to manage its ag-strategy and farm-holdings. The LTA’s Aldrich plans a special feature on the whole topic of land trusts in the food system for the summer issue of his organization’s member magazine, Saving Land.

Back in Illinois, the most visible example of CLC’s efforts, beside Prairie Crossing (a 669-acre Chicago subdivision that devotes 100 acres to food production: see “Farming the ‘burbs”) and the fact that around 25 percent of its portfolio is now agricultural land, is the nascent Casey Farm Center for Land Health, a 34-acre farm CLC also now owns. It will use part of the farmhouse for educational purposes and lease the rest to a young couple for raising chickens and produce. A renovation of the 140 year-old dairy barn to make it friendly for food processing is just being finished.

In a similar vein on the East End of Long Island, NY, Peconic Land Trust (PLT) has been in the local food game since 1990 when it was gifted land perfect for a CSA—Community Supported Agriculture. One of the oldest CSAs in the country (and also having the distinction of employing Scott Chaskey as its official “Farmer/Poet”—it really says that on his business card, and his poems are great), PLT’s President John Halsey said that their decision to keep the land in farming hinged on stewardship. “What better way to steward farmland than by operating a farm that engages the community?”

Beside the venerable CSA, called Quail Hill Farm, ninety acres of this land is part of PLT’s new Farms for the Future initiative, an incubator for new growers who can lease the land to “… get their feet on the ground before finding more permanent locations to farm out here.” At the end of their lease, PLT plans to aid the farmers in finding land elsewhere that they can acquire themselves, which is key in Hamptons zip codes.

Mount Grace Land Trust boss Leigh Youngblood at the launch of the Campaign for Affordable Farms. Photo: Mount Grace

But that question of whether farmers like them can actually find land, conserved or otherwise, that they can finance remains a big question. Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust in western Massachusetts is one organization that’s working to make conserved farmland affordable to new and old entrants alike with an increasingly popular model.

In addition to more traditional practices (it’s conserved two dozen farms over the past 25+ years), Mount Grace recently launched a new effort that protects the land by way of a community land trust (CLT) structure. This model is one of shared ownership, where the land trust buys the land and provides a 99-year inheritable lease to the farmer, who owns the house and buildings and in turn grants the trust a permanent Affordability Restriction, ensuring that when the buildings are sold to the next farmer (and it must be to a farmer), the price tag will be affordable.

Their Campaign for Affordable Farms is just shy of the fundraising goal for its first project: buying the 100+ acres of Red Fire Farm in Montague, whose current owners will remain on the land and operate their successful 1,400-member/year-round CSA, while shedding unsustainable debt.

All of Mount Grace’s potential farm conservation projects are assessed for their full farm affordability potential, reports Executive Director Leigh Youngblood. She’s a booster of the CLT system both for its economic sense, since a regular conservation easement simply does not guaranteed affordability, but also for the good it does in the community, she says (and speaking of, the National Young Farmers Coalition just surveyed 225 land trusts across the U.S. to find out what they’re doing on the affordability question, from CLTs to language enhancements in traditional conservation easements favorable to agriculture, and plans to publish the results soon).

Red Fire Farm CSA bounty. Photo: Red Fire Farm

So although a CLT is a departure from traditional land trust work and comes with organizational capacity questions, Youngblood declared, “We love it, Red Fire is a strong partner, and we were ready for the challenge.” And beside the great mission-match that the campaign yields, there were also direct benefits to Mount Grace in 2012, she reports: “We got 100 new donors at the end of the year. That’s the biggest increase in one month we’ve ever had.”

Which should be music to many land trusts’ ears. CLTs are also likely to have been discussed by a new short course just offered by Bard College (NY) aimed at land conservation professionals, Private Land Conservation: A Primer, and The Role of Agriculture. This offering at a college is yet another sign that this trend is getting big.

When asked to share advice with land trusts that are interested in getting into the farmland preservation game, here’s what my sources suggested:

  • Lease, don’t own, according to Mount Grace’s Youngblood: “I often see land trusts acquire farms and then operate them. I personally don’t want to be operating a farm. We’re good at conserving land. Owning a farm and running it with your own staff is harder than leasing it.” She also highly recommends Land for Good, which provides farmland access, farm transfer planning, land planning, and farm use agreement information in the Northeast.
  • Peconic Land Trust’s Halsey agrees: “Owning the land doesn’t mean you need to hire the farmer as we did, although we’ve gained a lot from that.” He also added that a land trust has a unique position and should take advantage of that with farmland it owns: “Get more involved with active management of farmland: encourage new forms of agriculture and best management practices and look at different models.”
  • Find your door-opener, says CLC’s Steve Barg: “There’s one farmer in our community who’s been a game-changer for us, a fourth generation farmer and conservationist (who bucks the usual corn and soybeans plan and instead grows an interesting four to five grain rotation on his land). Because he’s a conventional farmer, he’s been a real door-opener for us in the farming community.”

That’s all good advice, and one hopes that the estimated 1,660+ land trusts across all 50 U.S. states will follow the lead of the 558 Land Trust Alliance member trusts that report being invested in this work. The country needs to greatly increase the number of farmers and the diversity of its farms if it hopes to feed itself well into the future. The good news is that its reliable fleet of land trusts is well-positioned to help by creating many new local food solutions.

Visit EcoWatch’s SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE page for more related news on this topic.

This post originally appeared on Grist.

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