SolarCity and MP2 Energy have partnered to make it possible for some Dallas-Fort Worth area homeowners to pay less for solar electricity than they pay for utility power for the first time without any local incentives. Customers who sign up for SolarCity's service and for electricity service from MP2 will receive full credit for all the solar electricity they provide to the utility grid. Known as full "net metering," the practice is common in most of the U.S., but available for the first time in Texas exclusively through this partnership. This program will initially be available to qualified homeowners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the two companies expect to expand it to additional markets later this year.
Texas is the nation's largest energy producer and is among its top five energy consumers per capita, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Texas residents have traditionally enjoyed electricity prices below the national average, and solar power adoption in the state has largely been limited to areas where local incentives drive down the cost of solar electricity. SolarCity and MP2's ability to provide solar electricity at a discount to retail utility rates without local incentives in Texas has implications for solar adoption in a broad range of locations with comparable rates.
"With an average of 240 sunny days per year, Texas is often considered a sleeping giant when it comes to its potential for solar power, and unlocking this state has huge implications for the solar industry at large," said Jeff Starcher, chairman and CEO of MP2 Energy. "To date, solar has only worked where there are local incentives. With this new partnership, we are making solar a practical option for residential customers in Texas."
Under the program, SolarCity will install solar panels to provide solar electricity to Texas homeowners, and homeowners will sign up with MP2 for any additional electricity needs. MP2 will track customers' solar energy production and consumption every month. Customers who produce more than they consume will be credited at the full-retail value for excess production, including transmission and distribution service charges. Most retail electricity providers in Texas limit the credits for solar power produced—typically up to 500 kWh per month—or require them to forfeit any unused solar power at the end of the month. MP2 Energy will not implement a cap for its program and will allow customers to carry forward any excess generation to subsequent monthly bills until the customer can fully utilize it for the year.
"MP2's pure 'net metering' program is truly the first of its kind in Texas, finally making solar a viable option for residential customers," Starcher added. "The terms of this program can allow customers to see immediate savings on solar, and make government and local incentives - which have decreased in the past few years - less important. It demonstrates that the value of solar to electricity providers is increasing and is aligned with retail rates."
While other retail electric providers increase or decrease their solar costs based on monthly energy factors, such as the price of natural gas, MP2 allows customers to lock in a fixed rate for 12 or 24 months. MP2 will also allow customers to terminate their contracts without fees or penalties, which is also a unique offer in Texas.