Clean Power

Published on June 19th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


More Solar Power in TX Could Save Consumers Over $520 Million, New Study Finds

June 19th, 2012 by  


A new report released today analyzed how much electricity prices for Texas consumers would have been reduced in the summer of 2011 by adding solar capacity to the Texas electricity market. In total, it found potential savings of over $520 million for state electricity consumers.

Additionally, the study found that additional solar capacity would help considerably to reduce growing blackout threats in the state.



Potential Impact of Solar PV on Texas Electricity Markets

The study, “The Potential Impact of Solar PV on Electricity Markets in Texas,” examined “the total potential cost savings for electricity customers through reduced prices from additional electricity generation, lower fuel costs from utilizing solar instead of additional fossil fuel electricity generation, and the lower costs for operation and maintenance that come with solar energy.”

The key findings of the report are that “adding photovoltaic solar to the Texas electricity grid in the summer of 2011 could have saved customers an average of $155 to $281 per megawatt hour (MWh) and that avoiding fuel, operations and maintenance costs associated with fossil fuels plans could have saved customers an additional $52 per MWh. Taken together, the total customer benefits of adding solar PV to the Texas grid was valued at more than $520 million.”

Aside from electricity prices, a major concern facing Texas residents this year is that Texas electricity reserves have fallen below targets and will, thus, challenge operations this summer. Additionally, with extreme and prolonged high temperatures this summer (likely), “rotating outages are possible.”

“During last year’s unseasonably hot summer, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the Texas electricity grid, was forced to issue six conservation alerts because of record electricity usage in the state, resulting in electricity shutoffs for customers who volunteered for cutbacks during emergency conditions.”

Solar is a natural fit for Texas electricity grids and for solving this problem, given that solar production would peak when electricity demand peaks in Texas.

“Texas needs more on-peak capacity,” Pat Wood, former chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas and of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said. “Solar delivers on peak, it doesn’t use water and it doesn’t create any smog pollution. It is increasingly affordable, competing favorably with other peak-of-the-day resources.”

Aside from the important cost benefits, the benefits of reduced blackout threats (or even fewer blackouts) from more solar on the grid are hard to quantify.

The report was conducted by analysts from the Brattle Group, a consultancy focused on the energy sector, with funding being provided by the Energy Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Image Credit: Duke Energy solar panel installation in San Antonio, TX via Duke Energy

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Oh come ON people………they needed a STUDY? You could ask the average 12 yr. old……and I did just that…….asked 10 of them at the school where my girlfriend’s best friend teaches science. They said it was a total no brainer.

  • ToddInNorway

    PV does not require cooling water. Inland coal and natural gas power plants use very large amounts of cooling water, and during a drought, this is a limiting factor. In the worst case, limits on cooling water will shut down a large number of coal and natural gas plants exactly when they are needed the most! This is yet ANOTHER argument for installing a large PV capacity in Texas-security of electricity supply during hot, drought conditions.

    • yep. pretty sure that’s part of what was taken into account… but maybe not.

      wind and solar have a big trump card in these drought-threatened states with that.

  • The good news that even installing a few megawatts of solar can make a big difference during peak demand periods, so they should get cracking on solar installations before it gets really hot.

  • jburt56

    Yep, they’re ripping them in TX.

  • The bitter irony is the cost of a solar MWh, even from an inefficient project, is about $110-$140/MWh. That’s less than than the low end of the savings curve, i.e. IT PAYS FOR ITSELF…, with a net profit.
    You can’t sell solar by avoiding global warming, or air quality. You have to make a business case where it makes sense and has a return on investment. When it pays for itself, that becomes a lot easier to do

    • Bob_Wallace

      This may be about the only thing that saves our butts.  If we manage to save them.

      Renewable energy is becoming a way to lower energy bills.  People like lower bills.

      It’s looking very nasty in the Arctic.  We may well see the first summer sea ice meltout around 2015.  Projections are that once we have summer meltouts it will be only ten years or so before the Arctic becomes ice free year round.

      Weather may get extremely nasty if we have no ice ‘way up there’ moderating things….

  • Jeff King

    So if they had as much installed as Germany they wouldnt have to have the threat of black outs all summer

  • awenshok

    Ohooooo! Texicans just don’t want tot hear that!
    Texican ‘JOB CREATORS’ want you to think about ‘values’ and capitalism….nutzz to the consumer….probably from outta state anyway.

  • Matt

    When making PV grid parity charts they normally use electric comsumer rates. But for companies that pay peak rates, the grid parity area is much, much larger. In fact it may already be the whole US.

    • yeah, problem is that a lot of regions still don’t have peak pricing. curious to find details on which do and which don’t. but as more and more start to… and in regions that have peak pricing… it’s hard to imagine that solar isn’t worth the investment yet… most likely is.

  • Anne

    And rooftop solar (the preferred variety) is producing the energy right where it is consumed, thereby reducing stress on the grid.

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