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Solar

SOLAR INSTALLATIONS

With residential solar power equipment becoming more affordable, the City of College Station has seen a significant rise in permit applications.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, existing solar installations power the equivalent of 54 million average American homes. Texas is fourth in the nation for solar generation from all sources, with about 6.3% of the national total.

With more of our customers interested in solar panels and more contractors entering our market, we compiled some frequently asked questions.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    Does College Station require a permit for solar installations?
    Yes. The permit fee for solar installations is $650 for commercial accounts and $550 for residential accounts. Planning and Development Services issues permits to industry-certified installers.
    What type of paperwork is required for installing solar systems?
    In addition to the permit, an interconnection agreement with the city is required.

    How much does a solar electric generation system cost?
    Costs vary based on various factors, including roof space, roof orientation, system size, etc. About $3 per watt is a good starting cost point. We always recommend getting more than one quote from contractors.
    Does The City of College Station have incentives for solar installations?
    No. The City had a solar incentive program in 2009 when costs were around $8 per solar watt. When solar equipment costs decreased significantly, the incentive was discontinued.
    How do solar photovoltaic panels work?
    Solar panels absorb the sun's energy throughout the day and convert it to direct current (DC) electricity. Most homes and businesses run on alternating current (AC) electricity, so the DC electricity is then passed through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. At that point, you either use the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid.
    Does the City of College Station offer net metering?
    No. The city purchases overproduction from solar customers at a wholesale electric rate. The current purchase rate is $0.0549 per kWh. When the customer’s system routes overproduction to the electric grid, the city purchases the power as it occurs.
    How much electricity will my solar system produce?
    Electricity production varies based on several factors. The industry average is between 1200-1500 kWh annually per 1000 watts (kW) of solar system.
    Does College Station require a second or solar production meter?
    Yes. The city has a two-meter requirement for systems in College Station Utilities’ electric service territory. After the installation is complete and inspected, CSU will install a new bi-directional meter and a new solar meter that captures total solar production.
    Will I still receive an electric bill if I have solar panels?
    Yes. Customers in the City of College Station electric service territory will receive a utility bill, which includes electric service. Customers with grid tied solar systems will have an additional line item on their statement detailing the solar portion of the meter reading. Over production purchased by the City will be noted as a “CKWH” credit on the billing statement.
    Is a high-efficiency air conditioner better than solar panels?
    Purchasing either an HVAC system or solar system is a significant purchase. Both save energy, and the choice is personal. We recommend that buyers get more than one estimate for either situation. Customers install solar systems for many reasons, especially energy savings. In Central Texas, most folks agree that air conditioning is a necessity.
    Do my solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?
    Yes, during daylight hours. The amount of power your solar system can generate is dependent on available sunlight. As a result, your production will typically be less during days when the weather is cloudy.
    Will my solar system work during a power outage?
    If your solar system is connected to the grid, it will automatically shut off in the event of an outage. This safety function protects electric utility personnel, first responders, and anyone else from being injured from the solar system back feeding to the grid.
    Can I go “off-grid” with solar panels?
    Yes, it is possible, but not likely. At a minimum, going off-grid typically requires battery storage, which will significantly increase the upfront cost of the solar system.
    What size solar energy system should I get?
    The physical size of your solar system will depend on available roof space.

    Some of the factors that determine available roof space are:
    • Roof type
    • Pitch of the roof
    • Existing penetrations in the roof
    • Solar orientation
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