If you’re worried about the reliability of the Texas electrical grid – and you should be – now might be the right time to consider rooftop solar. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed by President Biden on Tuesday renews and increases solar tax credits, and for the first time, accompanying battery backup systems are included.
Texas has been setting records for heat and for energy demand all Summer, and with the grid already operating close to maximum capacity, the possibility of rolling blackouts will only increase in coming years as the state’s population grows.
Before the IRA passed, homeowners were eligible for a 26 percent tax credit for a solar power system installed between 2020 and 2022. The credit was scheduled to drop to 22 percent for systems installed next year, and it would have been gone entirely by 2024. The new law pushes the credit back up to 30 percent for systems installed this year, and extends it through 2032.
Rooftop solar installations go for $15,000 and $25,000 for a typical system, so knocking $4,500 to $7,500 off your taxable income makes a significant dent.
But rooftop solar alone won’t save you from a rickety grid, as solar systems in Texas are still wired into it. When the power goes out due to a natural disaster or an overload, your panels will also stop producing energy in order to ensure the safety of the utility workers fixing the lines.
You’ll need a battery backup system in order to keep that indispensable-in-Texas AC running. Fortunately, battery systems, which store energy from rooftop solar systems for later use, qualify for the 30% credit.
So not only would you be able to keep your AC and appliances humming along during a blackout, you’ll also save money. The time it takes for solar panels to pay for themselves through electric bill savings is commonly estimated at six to ten years. After that, it’s all gravy.
But you may need to be patient. Red tape in Texas often delays, sometimes up to four months, bringing those rooftop solar arrays online. Given the state of the electric grid, this is especially unfortunate. According to this op-ed in Texas Monthly, “if utilities, local jurisdictions, and HOAs embraced distributed solar by removing unnecessary paperwork and fees, streamlining inspections, and adopting statewide codes, we could have a stronger, more resilient grid right now.”
And now can’t come soon enough.