Solar PV FAQs

We are here to help homeowners and businesses along the process of going solar. If you have any questions throughout the process, please call our office or send us an email.

If you are interested in solar, fill out an application and we will distribute it to three local solar installers who will contact you to provide you a quote.

How big is a solar PV system?

The average residential system is 5 kW, which is about 20 panels. Systems come in many sizes and vary depending on your energy goals. The solar installer will review your current and average energy usage to design a system that will produce the correct amount of power to suit your needs.

How much does it cost?

The cost of solar depends on the size of your house. The average residential system is 5 kW and the current average price per watt is $4, so an average 5 kW system would cost $20,000.

Currently, the rebate amount in the CPS Energy service area is $1.60 per watt up to $25,000 or 50% of the cost of the system, whichever is less. Once the rebate is credited, a 30 percent federal tax credit can be applied to the remaining balance.

These financial incentives–which combined cover at least half of the total cost–will not last forever, so now is a great time to go solar.

Here is an example of how much a 5 kW might cost. Keep in mind this is just an estimate based on the average of contracts signed. Your quote will vary.

If a 5 kw system costs $20,000 before rebates, the CPS Energy residential rebate would bring this cost down to $13,200. After the 30 percent tax credit is applied to the remaining balance, the final cost would be $9,240.

Is the rebate running out?

Due to an increase in solar applications, the CPS Energy commercial and residential rebates have already been reduced from $2 to $1.60 per watt.

The rebates are expected to run out by the end of the 2014 fiscal year, if not earlier.

The federal tax credit is set to expire in 2016; it is unclear if it will be renewed.

Is financing available?

Some solar installation companies offer financing. However, there are also a variety of lending institutions in San Antonio that provide home improvement loans.

Here is a list of those institutions:

San Antonio Credit Union
Eloisa Riojas, Loan Originator, Home Loan Production

Frost Bank
Billy Moore

BBVA Compass
Pantrella Reaves

Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union
Amos Wesley

Jefferson Bank
Susan Brandenberg

If take out a loan from one of these institutions, please mention our name when doing so.

How much is solar worth?

Currently, CPS Energy uses net metering to apply value to solar generated by your system.

Through net metering, CPS Energy credits your utility bill 1-for-1 with the amount of energy generated by your system. The current price of electricity is $.097 per kilowatt-hour.

Each kilowatt produced by your system cancels out a kilowatt-hour you used from the grid. This allows you to have a source of electricity whenever you need it, not just when your system is generating electricity.

Will I make money off of my PV system?

If your solar system overproduces, meaning it generated more electricity than you used from CPS Energy, the amount the utility will pay you is $.02 per kilowatt-hour. Since CPS Energy does not pay the full price of electricity ($.097) for what you over-produce, you will not make a significant profit from this.

How long does the system last?

Solar panels last a very long time. Most companies offer a warranty for 20-25 years, but the system is expected to last longer. The panels are designed to withstand hail, hurricane force winds, and rainstorms.

Do the solar panels need to be mounted on a roof?

Panels are often mounted on the roof, but can also be mounted on the ground if the space is available. Keep in mind, wherever the panels are located needs to be free of shade. Roof mount systems are most common in residential installations.

Do I need to have a new roof?

If your roof is in new or good condition, then there is no need to get a new roof. If you have an older roof that needs to be repaired, you will want to do it at the time the PV system is installed. This is because if you put your solar PV system in place and then have to replace your roof, you will have to pay extra to remove and reinstall your PV system.

What happens if it’s raining or cloudy? Does shade matter?

The panels can still produce if it’s cloudy, but the production will not be the same as it is when the sun is shining. A permanent shade caused by a tree could seriously restrict the productivity of your panels. Your solar installer will make your panels are not shaded.

Do the panels need to face south?

PV modules should be oriented geographically to maximize the amount of daily and seasonal solar energy that they receive. In general, the optimum orientation for a PV module in the northern hemisphere is true south. However, your modules can face up to 45º east or west of true south without significantly decreasing its performance.

How long does it take to install a solar system?

The entire process of receiving an estimate, site survey, approval, installation, and inspection takes about 6 weeks.

Can my HOA prevent me from going solar?

A Homeowner’s Association cannot legally stop you from going solar unless there is still an undeveloped plot in your neighborhood.

I want to be off the grid. What does that entail?

Well, it is pretty difficult to be completely off the grid. In addition to the solar system, you will need to purchase a battery to store excess energy for use at night. Batteries are still an expensive technology. Additionally, you cannot take advantage of the CPS rebate if you are not connected to the grid.

How do I know that the solar installers are good companies?

The CPS Energy-approved solar companies that participate in the program must become professional members in our organization as well as maintaining professionalism and experience within the city. The companies vary from large electrical and renewable energy businesses to small businesses that specialize in energy efficiency.