Houston Renewable Electricity

Houston, Texas may be an old hub for the production and distribution of American oil. But it’s also full of possibilities for the development and use of renewable electricity.

If you live in Houston, there are several good ways for you to get renewable electricity. Type your zip code into the box above and you’ll see a list of providers, all of which have a power supply with a renewable element. These companies offer different packages, each of which has its own costs and benefits.

Of course, if you are committed to expanding the infrastructure for renewable energy and you have some extra money to invest, you can also set up your own system for generating electricity.

Renewable Electricity in Texas

Houston is part of the larger Texas electrical grid, which is becoming increasingly open to small sources of renewable electricity. Whereas formerly all things electric were provided by a single company, home and business owners now have the right—in most areas—to select one of several providers for their power. These competing companies are known as Retail Electric Providers (REPSs).

One of the ways for an REP to procure electricity is through purchases of Distributed Renewable Generation (DRG). DRG refers to the decentralized production of renewable electricity with small solar plants and windmills. Excess energy can be sold to an REP, which is responsible for redistribution. Texans can participate in this flourishing market either by purchasing renewable energy or by producing it themselves and selling the excess.

In fact, all Texas providers must make some contribution to renewable energy. Due to a legislative decision in 2005 to promote Texas renewable electricity, all purchases support renewable power to some degree. Companies are required to obtain a certain number of renewable energy credits, which can either be earned through the use of renewable sources, or purchased on the open market. Either way, this program ensures that a certain proportion of electricity production must step from renewable sources. It also rewards those companies that choose green electricity by providing them with extra income from credits.

Provider Companies

There are a number of different Houston renewable electricity suppliers. The list of companies that supply electricity from 100% renewable sources is already too great to list, and the set of companies that use some percentage of renewable power is even larger.

These are on average only slightly more expensive than other options. Some of the cheaper renewable plans offer variable rates, which means they are riskier and may result in higher costs in the long run. The shorter the timeframe for the pricing—i.e., monthly instead of biannually—the lower the initial cost.

Other companies are slightly more expensive, but have fixed rate. Every provider offers different plans. Some variables that you can investigate include:

  • Length of contract
  • Size of company
  • Source of the energy: wind, solar, or something else (solar electricity prices and wind electricity prices do not seem to differ wildly)
  • Signup costs: special deals and initial deposit
  • Penalties: for cancellation, missed payments, and other infringements of the contract

Make sure you know what you’re getting into when you sign a contract with an electricity provider! It may commit you to a financial path that will be in place for some time. Remember, all you need to do is type in your zip code above to see a complete list of your options.

Do It Yourself

If you have the space and the money for an initial investment, you can construct your own source of renewable electricity. This might be a photovoltaic system or a wind turbine. One immediate benefit of this approach is that you can receive a renewable electricity credit from the federal government.

The Houston Renewable Energy Group is a non-profit that has resources and advice for setting up your own source of renewable energy—particularly solar power systems—in the Houston area.

If you do set up your own source of renewable electricity in Houston, you can participate in the larger grid of Texas renewable electricity. Your excess power can be sold within the Distributed Renewable Generation program, where it is absorbed by larger providers and sent where it is needed.

Houston renewable electricity is also supported by local financial incentives. If you are engaging in a substantial retrofit program for a building, probably with a commercial function, you might be eligible for a special tax credit available in Houston. The municipal government will provide a 20% subsidy for the upfront costs of building the new system. Buildings with their own energy systems may also qualify for an abatement of their property taxes.