The solar industry has run into obstacles over the past few years as it tries to convince Texans to install solar panels to generate their own electricity. The industry has battled homeowner associations that don’t want panels in their neighborhoods, doesn’t benefit like it does in other states from laws that require utilities to buy excess power and faces restrictions from some cities, especially in the Dallas area, that prohibit the panels on rooftops.
But the industry may be getting some traction to fight municipal restrictions after the Texas Senate passed a bill this week that would prevent cities from placing restrictions on solar panels.
A companion bill in the Texas House has not moved forward since it was introduced, according to legislative records, but Katherine Gensler, vice president of regulatory affairs for the Washington, D.C.,-based Solar Energy Industries Association, urged the Texas House to take up the measure.
Texas is the nation’s No. 1 state in producing wind-generated power but lags behind the U.S. average when it comes to power generation from solar energy. Solar energy provides less than 1 percent of total electricity generation in Texas.
The Senate bill would also require solar sellers to provide some consumer protections including contact information of the salesperson and installer, representations of expected operational and financial performance and warranties. Solar lease agreements must include the terms and rates of the lease including any payment escalators or other terms that would affect payments and whether the lease is transferable to a new owner, according to the bill.