Study: Solar Power Would Lower Texans’ Energy Bills

A new study shows that adding solar capacity to the Texas electrical grid would lower electricity prices for customers in the Lone Star State. This press release from the Solar Energy Industries Association says an analysis from the Brattle Group energy consultancy explains how solar photovoltaic (PV) systems would impact the rates:

Their report concludes that adding photovoltaic solar to the Texas electricity grid in the summer of 2011 could have saved customers an average of $155 to $281 per megawatt hour (MWh) and that avoiding fuel, operations and maintenance costs associated with fossil fuels plans could have saved customers an additional $52 per MWh. Taken together, the total customer benefits of adding solar PV to the Texas grid was valued at more than $520 million.

Pat Wood, former chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas and of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said solar is a natural fit for Texas’ energy capacity problems because solar electricity production peaks during afternoon hours when summer electricity demand is highest.

“Texas needs more on-peak capacity,” Wood said. “Solar delivers on peak, it doesn’t use water and it doesn’t create any smog pollution. It is increasingly affordable, competing favorably with other peak-of-the-day resources.”

Carrie Cullen Hitt, Vice President of State Affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the double benefit of lower electricity costs and increased reliability makes solar a clear choice for the state.

“This study shows that not only can solar energy help lower costs for Texans, but that adding solar capacity helps address the state’s more urgent crisis of potential rolling blackouts during the hot summer months,” Hitt said. “The state’s electricity grid was pushed to the brink of failure last summer. As Texas leaders address ways to mitigate this risk and the state’s energy future, solar should be an important part of their plans.”

The report goes on to point out that last year’s unusually hot summer last year forced six conservation alerts because of record electricity usage in the state, and similar problems could come up this summer.