Worried About The Texas Grid? Solar Tax Credits Can Help Insulate You From A Power Outage


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.

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Editorial Cartoonist Nick Anderson has joined the Reform Austin newsroom, where he will employ the artistic skill and political insights that earned a Pulitzer Prize to drive coverage of Texas government. As managing editor, Anderson is responsible for guiding Reform Austin’s efforts to give readers the unfiltered facts they need to hold Texas leaders accountable. Anderson’s original cartoons will be a regular feature on RA News. “Reform Austin readers understand the consequences of electing politicians who use ideological agendas to divide us, when they should be doing the hard work necessary to make our state government work for everyone,” Anderson said. “As a veteran journalist, I’m excited about Reform Austin’s potential to re-focus conversations on the issues that matter to common-sense Texans – like protecting our neighborhoods from increasingly common disasters, healthcare, just to name a few.” Anderson worked for the Houston Chronicle, the largest newspaper in Texas, from 2006 until 2017. In addition to the Pulitzer, Anderson earned the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award. He’s also a two-time winner of Columbia College’s Fischetti Award, and the National Press Foundation’s Berryman Award. Anderson’s cartoons have been published in Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and other papers. In 2005, Anderson won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning while working for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. The judges complimented his “unusual graphic style that produced extraordinarily thoughtful and powerful messages.”

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