AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin is now No. 1 in the U.S. when it comes to solar power available per person, according to new data gathered by the Environment Texas Policy and Research Center. The city beat out Los Angeles and San Antonio for the top spot. Austin was ranked 14th in the nation for solar energy produced inside city limits and second in the state behind San Antonio. Round Rock came in tenth place in the state for energy produced inside city limits.
The report compiled data from across the country, looking at over 200 Texas cities. Researchers looked at how much energy was gathered within city limits and how much was generated based on the population.
Austin tops the list for several reasons. First, several solar farms across the state feed into Austin. Meaning we’re not just relying on panels sitting on our roofs.
The Environment Texas Policy and Research Center credits Austin’s public policy, investments and programs. Austin Energy’s solar rebate offers $2,500 to customers who install panels. To get the rebate, customers must take a training course and hire an Austin Energy approved contractor.
According to Tim Harvey, Austin Energy’s Customer Renewable Solutions Manager, the typical home would need a system that costs $15,000 to $20,000. He says, however, that the customer will save enough to pay it off in 10 to 15 years.
The pandemic’s effect on solar energy
Getting new panels installed might be a challenge. The Research Center says the pandemic has slowed growth of the industry, with many contractors having to furlough their workers. Mr. Harvey says that Austin Energy saw things slow as the pandemic began, but now with proper protective gear, his people are back at work.
The federal government recently took steps to reduce incentives. Commercial tax credits were reduced while residential tax credits will go away by 2022.