Sparking solar in Texas

Green Mountain Energy Company brings all-solar energy option to Texans

As this series has demonstrated, energy innovation is happening around the world in a wide range of areas, from energy storage and smart grid technologies to renewables, electric vehicles and energy-saving software and services.

But innovation isn't just about inventing new technologies. It's about getting those technologies out into the market. And when it comes to bringing renewable energy options to residential and commercial customers, Texas-based Green Mountain Energy Company was the first to be 100% dedicated to cleaner energy with the electricity market opened to competition in the state in 2002.

Founded in 1997, Green Mountain is the country's longest-serving retailer dedicated to renewable energy, selling all-renewable energy options directly to residents and businesses in competitive markets in Illinois, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas, and partnering with utilities in other regulated markets.

In September 2013, Green Mountain became the first company to offer residential customers in Texas an electricity plan powered by 100% solar energy. The company's SolarSPARC™ product (Smart People Accelerating Renewable Change) allows customers to reap the benefits of solar energy without incurring the upfront cost of a solar installation. Furthermore, Green Mountain Energy's innovative program overcomes other barriers that many homeowners face, such as lack of open rooftop space without hindrance of shade or a commitment to sign a long-term, twenty-year solar contract.

Texas has a lot of sunshine, and we plan on making sure it has a lot of solar power customers.

Shay Ohrel Sales Director, Green Mountain Energy
Green Mountain Sun Club solar array

"Texas has incredible solar potential, and our customers want and deserve solar options," said Green Mountain's Shay Ohrel. "But not everyone can afford the upfront cost of installing their own system or even has a suitable home for solar panels. SolarSPARC™ gives them a way to be part of the solar revolution."

The program is available now to residential customers in competitive markets in Texas. According to Green Mountain, SolarSPARC™ electricity comes from 100 percent solar energy. Initially, the power will come from solar credits acquired from national projects, but the company is breaking ground on Texas-based solar installations and will eventually incorporate a portion of this Texas-based generation to support SolarSPARC™ customers. The first SolarSPARC™ project is sited alongside the company's wind facility near Big Spring, Texas.

In addition, Green Mountain will contribute $4 per month for each SolarSPARC™ customer towards developing new solar projects in Texas, and customers will receive an annual bill credit for each solar project they help fund. The credit will start at $11 and could amount to $121 per year for customers who participate for 5 years.

Green Mountain Energy solar array

The first SolarSPARC solar array will be 10kW in size, similar to the size of this Green Mountain Sun Club solar array at the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, and will be build at Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm - Elbow Creek

Photo credit: Green Mountain Energy

"Most people know about Texas' success with wind power," said Vice President of EDF's Climate and Energy Program, Jim Marston, "but our state is also ranked first in solar energy potential. The cost of solar continues to drop, and companies like Green Mountain are offering creative ways for customers to take part without bearing the upfront investment. A strategic mixture of good policies, creative financing and enthusiastic energy companies will help spur the growth of solar in Texas."

Green Mountain is starting small, but it is committed to grow with demand. "The more customers that sign up for the product, the more solar we'll build," said Ohrel. "Texas has a lot of sunshine, and we plan on making sure it has a lot of solar power customers."

Innovation highlights

  • What: Green Mountain Energy Company's new SolarSPARC™ energy program offers residential electricity customers in Texas a 100% solar energy plan, supports the development of new solar developments in the state and provides customers with credit for the facilities they help fund.
  • Where: Where: Green Mountain Energy (owned by NRG Energy) in Austin, TX
  • Why it matters: Texas has remarkable solar energy potential, but upfront costs can prohibit residential customers from installing rooftop systems. The SolarSPARC™ program provides a 100% solar energy plan to customers without the need to own or finance a home installation.

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