August 25th, 2023
Texas solar buyback: everything you need to know
You can make bank selling your spare solar power back to your energy provider, but there’s a lot to know about the different buyback plans out there. Read on to compare Texas solar buyback plans and get answers to common questions, like:
How does solar buyback work?
When you have solar panels at home, you’ll use a certain amount of the energy you generate to power your home. Sometimes, you’ll generate more power than you need to use, and you can sell that spare solar power to your energy provider.
Most electric companies will have a solar buyback plan, and each will be slightly different – for example, some will offer higher rates and some have caps on how much you can sell – so be sure to check out your chosen providers’ solar plan before you sign up.
The most common types of plans are:
- Fixed-rate buyback plans - they’ll buy your solar power at a fixed rate.
- ‘One to one’ buyback – they’ll buy your solar power for the same rate as you pay to import electricity (usually on these plans, you’ll only be able to export as much solar as you import).
- Real-time market rate buyback prices – they’ll buy your solar power at the Texas wholesale market rate. This rate changes every 15 minutes and can vary depending on the weather and time of year. During Summer, and in the ‘peak’ times of day, the wholesale price can skyrocket 100xs higher.
At Octopus Energy, our solar buyback plan matches the Texas wholesale rate. We don’t have a cap on how much excess solar we’ll buy, and there’s no cap on the rate either – so when the market rate shoots up, you can earn big for selling solar to help the grid.
See how our plan compares to some of the main ones in Texas:
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Frequently asked questions about solar buyback
What does net metering mean in regard to solar energy?
Net metering helps customers gain credit from extra solar they produce. When your solar panels create more electricity than you're using, the excess goes back to the electrical grid. While this is happening, your meter runs in reverse. This credit helps offset their electricity usage from the grid, which saves them money.
While most states require net metering, it is not a “must” here in Texas. Just because this is not a rule, it doesn’t mean your solar efforts don’t go unpaid. You can still get on a solar buyback plan to get credits or compensation for solar
What is one-to-one buyback?
A one-to-one buyback plan means your provider will buy the solar back at the same rate you purchased it from them. Keep in mind this does not include delivery fees from the utility provider or base charges, so you can expect to always have a bill.
What is the cap for wholesale solar buyback?
The Texas Real-Time wholesale rate fluctuates every 15 minutes and varies depending on your utility provider. The cap for the wholesale rate can't go higher than $5 per kWh - that’s the ceiling, and yes, we will buy your solar back at that price.
During significant weather events such as Winter Storm Uri, and the frequent hot summer days across Texas, this could cause the rate to spike and meet the cap. These days are the perfect time to reduce your usage and let your solar panels make all the money for you. In doing so, you’ll also do your part by giving Texas grid break. It’s a win-win!
How much can I make selling solar power back to the grid?
How much you make on solar credits really boils down to a few things:
- How much power you’re using versus how much you're sending to the grid.
- The buyback plan you signed up for.
- If your company giving you energy credits or money for it.
- Do you have the option to cash it out?
Every provider's buyback plan will be different, it's best to choose a provider that works best for you. If you want cash from your solar, you’ll need to find one that’ll pay you back.
The amount you can make at Octopus will change each billing cycle. If you’re ever sitting at over $50 in credit in your account, we’ll send that cash straight to you! Just ask!
Where can I find the real-time wholesale (RTW) rate?
Curious about current buyback prices? You can find the live Texas wholesale price on ERCOT's page. You can also see prices on the go when you download the ERCOT app and click on wholesale prices. Keep in mind these are in megawatt hours so a little conversion to kilowatt hours is needed. For instance: 100.00 = 0.10¢.
The rate fluctuates throughout the year so if you wanna know the best money-saving months, click here for a year's worth of historical pricing.
How can I track my solar export?
Depending on who installed your solar panels, you might be able to keep tabs on how much you're producing through your solar company's app. If you don’t have an app, track your export at smartmetertexas.com. There you will be able to see and compare your daily, weekly, and monthly export and import.
We made it easy! Keep up to date and track your solar export amount in kWh and exactly how much cash you’ve made through our Octopus Energy app.
How are solar credits purchased?
If your electric company has a solar buyback program, they might go for one of these options:
- Purchase your exported solar as cash credit on your account.
- Purchase your exported solar as a kWh credit, typically matching what you used, like a one-to-one buyback.
- You may get a fixed monthly bill credit on your account for exporting.
We like to purchase them as cash credit. This means you can get it refunded straight to your pocket or have them pay off future bills since we offer limitless rollover.
What does limitless rollover mean?
Limitless rollover is like having a credit stash in your account. This means the credit you build in your account from excess will stay on your account and never expire. If the credit is higher than the next bill then you got the bill covered!
If I cancel services can I still redeem solar credits?
If you decide to part ways with your provider, you may not be able to cash out your extra credits. This might be because the company doesn’t offer limitless rollover or the credits might come with an expiration date. If your company allows credits to rollover without an expiration date, ask and they just might send a check!
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