Texas PV coalition speeds development

Issue 1 and Volume 101.

Texas PV coalition speeds development

Solar electricity for utility customers in Texas could become an affordable, commercial reality, according to a new coalition of Texas-based rural and municipal electric utilities. The Texas PV Coalition has been formed to accelerate the commercial availability of photovoltaic (PV) systems as a service alternative to extending utility lines. The coalition will be managed by Planergy Inc., Austin, Texas. Coalition members include the Rio Grande Electric Cooperative Inc., Wise Electric Cooperative Inc., Tri-County Electric Cooperative Inc. and Lubbock Power and Light. The utilities cover approximately 10 percent of the land area of Texas.

The coalition`s goal is to develop the necessary experience and infrastructure for utilities to be able to offer PV energy as a routine service option. The coalition is focusing on the development of grid-independent PV systems. “Integrating photovoltaics into their portfolio of customer service options will provide a solution to the problem of extending power lines into hard-to-reach areas, increasing customer satisfaction and bringing new revenue to utilities,” said John Hoffner, Planergy director of alternative energies and coordinator of the coalition. “The cost of photovoltaic services is decreasing at the same time the efficiency of photovoltaic energy technology is increasing. For many applications, PV systems are now the lowest cost power alternative.”

The coalition has received initial funding from the Utility Photovoltaic Group, a national organization of 90 utilities funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and matching funds from the Texas State Energy Conservation Office.