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Texas suppliers show growing interest in solar

One of Texas' largest retailelectricity providers is joining the effort to push more solar generation inthe state.

TXUEnergy, the Dallas-based retail electricity provider owned by , hasunveiled a plan that offers a rebate to residential customers who install aSunPower Corp. solarsystem, as well as an increase in the credit for any excess generation produced.

The"instant rebate" provides between $2,000 and $5,000 off the purchaseprice of what it calls a "TXU Solar from SunPower" rooftop system.The offer is only good through the end of the year, the company said. Theamount of the rebate varies "based on the solar panel system's wattage sizeand is applied as a per-watt discount at time of purchase."

TXUand other Texas retail electricity providers pay customers for their excesssolar electricity. However, the company said in a Sept. 29 news release thatunder its new renewable buyback plan it will buy excess electricity fromresidential consumers who have purchased solar systems through TXU Solar fromSunPower "at the same per-kilowatt-hour rate that the customer pays forthe grid-based electricity they use when that is needed."

Thecredits will be delivered to customers via their monthly bills, the companysaid.

TXU,which claims 1.7 million residential and business customers in Texas, announcedits partnership with panel maker SunPower in November 2015.

Solaris growing in Texas

Theinstant rebate and its new offer for excess solar generation "will helpmaintain momentum in the state's growing solar market," TXU said.

TheTexas solar market has been growing.

Atthe end of 2012, there was a total of 139 MW of solar capacity installed in Texas.In 2015, 212 MW of solar was installed, according to the Solar EnergyIndustries Association. At the end of the first quarter of this year, therewere 566 MW of solar installed in Texas — 91 MW of that was residentialrooftop, 65 MW commercial and 410 MW utility-scale.

PlattsAnalytics' Power Plant Databank expects a total of 1,251 MW of large-scalesolar projects will be in service in the state by the end of 2016. By 2020,solar is expected to total more than 1,500 MW and potential projects beingconsidered may push the total to more than 2,000 MW.

SNL Image

Inthe U.S., there are now 31,600 MW of installed solar capacity, according to areport by GTM Research, with over 1,162,000 total residential systems installednationwide. Of the total installed solar capacity, residential rooftop is atapproximately 20%, or 6,200 MW, according to GTM and SEIA.

Inits second-quarter 2016 solar market review, published Sept. 12, GTM that the growth ofresidential PV was flagging due to "demand moderation." GTM said thatCalifornia's rooftop growth had slowed, while Arizona was seeing high levels ofinstallation growth due to proposed rate reforms.

"Lookingforward, we expect emerging state markets such as Utah and Texas — both of whichwill be 50+ MW residential markets in 2016 — to begin to compensate for slowinggrowth in major states," the GTM report said.

GTMwent on to say that it believes Texas will install more than 4,600 MW of solarcapacity in the next five years, with roughly 600 MW of that being residentialrooftop, and 4,000 MW being utility-scale.

Texastowns turning to renewables

Windturbine installations in Texas are approaching 18,000 MW in nameplate capacity,making the state by far the largest wind generator. Iowa, ranked second, hasclose to 6,500 MW of wind capacity.

Atleast two midsize towns in the state have recently taken the plunge andannounced they want to go largely renewable in their power sourcing.

Denton,Texas, population 113,000 and located 40 miles northwest of Dallas, last year that it wantsto use 70% renewable energy by 2030. The city's current renewable use is almostentirely wind generation, but it plans on adding utility-scale solar to themix. Part of its plan is the installation of a 225-MW quick-start gas-firedfacility.

Georgetown,Texas, population 63,000 and located 30 miles north of Austin, declared inAugust 2015 that it was aiming at 100% use of renewables, primarily throughpower purchase agreements.

InMarch 2015, Georgetown signed a 25-year supply deal with , which was planning tobuild the 200-MW Buckthornsolar PV facility 300 miles away in Fort Stockton, Texas.

SunEdisonhalted work on that project earlier this year and filed for bankruptcy inApril. On Sept. 13, however, NRGEnergy Inc. won a court-supervised auction and the Buckthorn project.

Jeffrey Ryser is areporter for S&P Global Platts which, like S&P Global MarketIntelligence, is a division of S&P Global Inc.