How North Texas Power Companies Support Solar

As you know, in Texas, we have a two-tier electric power system. The top layer is the TDUs or Transmission and Distribution Utilities (formerly called local or regional electric utilities). The TDUs are responsible for delivering electricity to your area, maintaining the wires and distribution equipment, and reading meters. The second tier consists of local electric power suppliers that use the transmission and metering services provided by the TDUs. These fall into three categories: Retail Electric Providers (REPs), which are private corporations; municipal utilities; and electricity co-ops.


Oncore

Oncor is the TDU for much of North and East Texas, including Odessa, Midland, Sherman/Denison, Dallas-Fort Worth, Tyler, Waco, Killeen, and Round Rock. (Some other cities in the general area, like Austin, are independent.) The Oncor company website provides a lot of useful information, including the basics on choosing an installer such as Universal Solar Systems: https://www.oncor.com/SitePages/PrivateSolarandRenewables.aspx


CoServ

CoServ is also a major TDU (and gas distributor) for North Texas, serving more than 221,000 meters across Denton, Collin, Cooke, Grayson, Tarrant and Wise counties. CoServ’s website files Solar under “Energy Options” along with Rush-Hour Solutions, Wind and EVs. The Solar page emphasizes the company’s own 800MW solar station but also offers some videos on rooftop solar, promotes the company’s own installers, and mentions an (unspecified) rebate:
https://www.coserv.com/Energy-Solutions/Solar


Electricity Retailers

What follows is a survey of solar benefits offered by retail power providers in North and East Texas.

TIP: If you’re looking for information on renewable-friendly electric retailers, whether or not you plan to go solar, the Texas Public Utilities Commission provides a detailed and unbiased dynamic guide with filters for zip code, program prices, energy mix (% renewables), at powertochoose.org, here:
http://www.powertochoose.org/

Now let’s take a look at some of the retailers and what they offer consumers who want to go solar.


DME – Denton Municipal Electric

DME is owned by the citizens of Denton, Texas. In 2018, the City Council adopted the Denton Renewable Resource Plan (DRRP), which set a goal to have 100 percent of Denton’s energy load under renewable energy contracts by 2020. The City buys power from various renewable suppliers and does offer a Distributed Generation Manual for customers with installed solar who want to sell power to DME. To learn about home solar installation in Denton, though, you have to go to a sub-page of Permits and Licenses:
https://www.cityofdenton.com/en-us/business/permits-licenses/residential-permits/solar-panels


TCEC – Tri-County Electric Cooperative

TCEC, like all co-ops, is owned by its members. Its service territory includes 16 counties in North Texas, ranging from Foard in the northwest to Hood in the southeast, with more than 8,700 miles of distribution line, about 90,000 member-owners and over 110,000 meters. TCEC offers robust support for home solar installation. Information can be found here: https://www.tcectexas.com/solar

The page offers downloadable (.pdf) pamphlets on topics including installation, information for contractors, and a Distributed Generation Manual. The “Is Solar Right for Me?” pamphlet contains a link to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that allows you to calculate your potential ROI on installing solar.


TVEC – Trinity Valley Electric Company

A mainly rural co-op, TVEC serves over 70,000 customers in the Trinity Valley area. Information on home and business solar installation is found under Member Center>Forms & Documents and is limited to information “created for the benefit of National Rural Electric Cooperative (NRECA) members and their consumer-members as part of the Cooperative Research Network’s (CRN) Cooperative Small Wind Guide.” This takes the form of basically the same Distributed Generation Manual, slightly adapted for TVEC, which buys back all energy generated by its customers once DG requirements have been met (the Manual can be found, rather confusingly, under a link button for “Forms”):
https://www.tvec.net/solarwinddistributed-generation/


Farmers Electric Cooperative

Farmers EC serves more than 50,000 homes and businesses in the region spanning Dallas, Collin, Rockwall, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Hopkins, Delta, Franklin, Fannin, Van Zandt, and Wood counties in Texas. Farmers seems seriously committed to renewable energy, though solar is lumped in with wind as part of Distributed Renewable Generation. The site provides comprehensive information about DRG, including tariffs and agreements and detailed Guidelines. Farmers will buy any surplus energy generated by its customers once all requirements have been met. Learn more here:

Renewable Generation

 

Garland Power & Light
The City of Garland provides electric service to its citizens through Garland Power & Light (GP&L), its locally owned not-for-profit municipal utility. With nearly 71,000 customers, GP&L is the fourth largest municipal utility in Texas. GPL offers an all-renewables option, Green Choice, which costs one penny more per kWH than the conventional mix. The utility discourages rooftop solar installation in favor of its Green Choice option.


Green Mountain Energy

Houston-based Green Mountain is a statewide retailer of 100% clean renewable energy. However, it offers no support or information about DRG in general or solar installation in particular.


Reliant Energy

Reliant is a division of national energy giant NRG. It appears quite supportive of home solar installation, however. Besides offering information on rooftop solar, it allows customers to sell back their surplus energy. For customers not yet ready to install their own system, it offers a 12-month solar-only plan and a plan that supports locally sourced energy from Texas solar farms and gives customers access to a low fixed price and no cancellation fee. Learn more here:
https://www.reliant.com/en/residential/electricity/renewable-energy/solar/index.jsp


Pedernales Electric Cooperative

PEC delivers electricity to over 328,000 accounts, more than any other U.S. electric cooperative, across 8,100 square miles of the Texas Hill Country: an area about the size of New Jersey. The Cooperative has a Solar Program for buying solar energy from solar farms (However, “Due to popular demand, the Cooperative Solar Program is not currently accepting new subscriptions.”) PEC accepts net metering up to 50 kW and “system interconnection metering” for systems with a surplus of 50-400 kW. Some helpful information on how to do this is provided, here.

System Interconnection

 

Austin Energy
Austin’s municipal utility has one of the oldest and strongest solar programs in Texas. For information, see our blog, here:

Solar Prospers in Austin—As Part of a Tradition