Last Updated on March 29, 2023 by Mary Pressler

Solar Buyback Plans and Net Metering Incentives in Texas

Solar power systems are a source of clean electricity, with simple maintenance needs and a lifespan of over 25 years. The main challenge when using solar panels is managing their variable energy production: they can only generate electricity when sunshine is available, unlike a diesel generator that provides power on demand.

The electricity output of a solar power system can exceed consumption at times, especially in homes that are empty during the day. To solve this problem, many energy companies have programs that reward solar owners for surplus generation. These programs are varied, offering different terms and conditions, but their common purpose is making surplus generation valuable for the client.

Current Information on Net Metering in Texas

What Is Net Metering?

Net metering is the most common solution to handle surplus electricity from solar panels. In Texas, there are many electricity providers who will buy back, or give you credit for your excess solar power. 

  • Every kilowatt-hour not consumed by your home is sent to the grid, and deducted as credit from the next power bill.
  • Some retail electric providers offer full credit, paying for your extra production at the retail kWh price.
  • Other providers give credit at the wholesale cost they would normally pay to large-scale generators, not the full kWh price.

Texas Net Metering Rules

Texas does not mandate net metering by law, but many Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) and municipal power companies offer the benefit. This article will provide an overview of the best solar buyback and net metering programs in the state as of 2023.

In simple terms, net metering subtracts your solar generation from your electricity consumption, and you are only billed for the difference. If your credit for solar generation is actually higher than your consumption, the rules vary depending on the energy company:

  • Some solar buyback plans offer a credit that is rolled over to the next month.
  • Other plans will not recognize credits for solar generation that exceeds your monthly consumption.
  • In rare cases, electricity providers may even pay in cash for surplus energy.

What Are Feed-in Tariffs in Net Metering?

Feed-in tariffs or FITs are rates that apply for surplus electricity exported to the grid. Under traditional net metering, your consumption and solar generation are valued equally, but a feed-in tariff assigns a different price tag for surplus generation.

  • FITs are normally lower than the retail kWh price, but utility companies may set them higher as an incentive for solar power in new markets.
  • If the FIT and the retail kWh price are equal, you are getting traditional net metering.

Keep in mind that electricity providers may create hybrid programs. For example, you may find a company that gives you net metering at the full energy price when generation is below your consumption, switching to a reduced feed-in tariff above this point.

What Are Performance-Based Incentives in Net Metering?

Performance-based incentives reward you based on the total output of your solar panels, not only your surplus production. This means you get the incentive regardless of how solar generation is used: consumed onsite, or exported to the grid.

The Value of Solar (VOS) Tariff offered by Austin Energy is an example of a performance-based incentive. You get a power bill credit of 9.7 cents/kWh based on 100% of your solar generation (not only your excess production).

Residential Net Metering Programs from Retail Electricity Providers

In most regions of Texas, you can choose your electricity company thanks to deregulation. Some electricity plans are designed specially for consumers who own solar panels, and in many cases they can boost savings. Texas has dozens of electricity providers, but few of them have solar buyback or net metering plans:

As of 2023, the following electricity providers offer solar buyback plans in Texas:

  • Almika Solar
  • Amigo Energy
  • Champion Energy Services
  • Chariot Energy
  • David Energy
  • Energy Texas
  • Gexa Energy
  • Green Mountain Energy
  • Just Energy
  • Octopus Energy
  • Reliant Energy
  • Rhythm Energy 
  • Shell Energy
  • TXU Energy

Compare Solar Buyback Plans in Texas

Retail Electric Provider Electricity Plans with Solar Buyback Solar kWh Buyback Price Retail kWh Price for Consumption (at 1000 kWh) Additional Conditions
Almika Solar 12-Month Buyback

24-Month Buyback

Solar Savior 36 Buyback

Solar buyback rate not specified in the 12 and 24-month plans.

19.4 ¢ / kWh in the 36-month plan.

17.8 ¢ / kWh
(12-Month Plan)

15.3 ¢ / kWh
(24-Month Plan)

21.3 ¢ / kWh
(36-Month Plan)

Available for home solar systems up to 25 kW.

Solar credits are rolled over to the next month, and they expire after 12 months. There is no cash payment option.

Amigo Energy Basics 12, 24, 60

Truly Fixed Price 24, 36

Weekends Free 12, 24

12th Month Free

Base Saver III – 12

Nights Free 12

Solar buyback rate not specified by the company. 12.9 ¢ / kWh
(Basics 12)

13.5 ¢ / kWh
(Truly Fixed 24)

19.9 ¢ / kWh
(Weekends Free 12)

13.9 ¢ / kWh
(12th Month Free)

10.5 ¢ / kWh, increases below 1,000 kWh
(Base Saver III)

20.5 ¢ / kWh
(Nights Free 12)

Customers must review a Sell Back Agreement provided by Amigo Energy. 

They can call 855-215-2259 to contact the Distributed Generation team.

Champion Energy Services Champ Saver 12, 24

Champ Silver 24

Green Energy 12

Free Weekends 24

Real-time wholesale market price, published by ERCOT. 12.8 ¢ / kWh
(Champ Saver 12)

12.5 ¢ / kWh
(Champ Silver 24)

13.4 ¢ / kWh
(Green Energy 12)

16.0 ¢ / kWh
(Free Weekends 24)

Unused credits are rolled over to the next month, but there is no cash payment option for surplus production.

Depending on the plan chosen, you can get a $50 LED bulb rebate and a $50 smart thermostat rebate.

Chariot Energy Rise 12, 24, 36

Shine 12, 24, 36

Rise Plans: Same as the retail kWh price (without TDU charges).

Shine Plans: Real-time wholesale market price, published by ERCOT, up to a maximum rate of 25 ¢ / kWh.

16.5 ¢ / kWh
(Rise 12)

16.5 ¢ / kWh
(Shine 12)

No solar buyback limit, unused credits are rolled over to the next month.
David Energy Solar Seller 12 The solar buyback rate is 90% of the real-time wholesale market price, published by ERCOT. 10.6 ¢ / kWh No solar buyback limit, and unused credits are rolled over to the next month.
Energy Texas Sun-Jacinto Solar Buyback Program, can be added to all their fixed rate plans:

36 Inflation Fix

Come & Take It 12

Bigger than Texas 24

The Gruene 18

ecobee Clean & Green 36

Your solar buyback rate is the lesser of the following two values:

1) Real-time wholesale market price, published by ERCOT.

2) Your retail kWh price (without TDU charges).

11.3 ¢ / kWh
(36 Inflation Fix)

11.1 ¢ / kWh
(Come & Take It 12)

11.2 ¢ / kWh
(Bigger than Texas 24)

11.9 ¢ / kWh
(The Gruene 18)

11.8 ¢ / kWh
(ecobee Clean & Green 36)

No solar buyback limit, and unused credits are rolled over to the next month.

Available for solar power systems up to 50 kW.

Gexa Energy Gexa Solar Benefits 36 10.43 ¢ / kWh 18.5 ¢ / kWh
9:00 AM to 5:59 PM

14.0 ¢ / kWh
6:00 PM to 8:59 AM

The maximum credit available for surplus solar generation is your monthly energy usage from the grid. Credits cannot be rolled over.

30% discount on energy charge from 9:00 AM to 5:59 PM

Green Mountain Energy Renewable Rewards
Solar Credit 12

Renewable Rewards Essential 12

Solar Credit 12:
5.6 ¢ / kWh

Essential 12: Same as the retail kWh price (without TDU charges).

15.5 ¢ / kWh
(Solar Credit 12)

19.6 ¢ / kWh
(Essential 12)

Available for solar power systems up to 50 kW.

Solar Credit 12: No solar buyback limit, and unused credits are rolled over to the next month.

Essential 12: The maximum solar credit is limited by your monthly energy usage from the grid. Credits cannot be rolled over.

Just Energy Basics 12, 24, 60

Purely Green 24

Just400 Advantage 24

Green Nights Free 24

Simple Choice 12, 24, 36

Base Saver III 12

Weekends Free 12, 24

Nights Free 12, 24

Solar buyback rate not specified by the company. 12.9 ¢ / kWh
(Basics 12)

13.9 ¢ / kWh
(Purely Green 24)

13.9 ¢ / kWh
(Just 400 Advantage 24)

20.5 ¢ / kWh
(Green Nights Free 24)

13.5 ¢ / kWh
(Simple Choice 12)

10.5 ¢ / kWh, increases below 1,000 kWh
(Base Saver III 12)

19.9 ¢ / kWh
(Weekends Free 12)

20.5 ¢ / kWh
(Nights Free 12)

The Just Energy website and Electricity Facts Labels (EFL) do not provide details about the solar buyback program.
Octopus Energy Octo 12

OctoPrepay 12

Real-time wholesale market price, published by ERCOT. 12.6 ¢ / kWh
(Octo 12)

12.6 ¢ / kWh
(Octo Prepay 12)

Solar buyback credit is rolled over to the next month, with no limit and no expiration date.

You can request a cash payment for unused solar buyback credits when the balance reaches $50, or when your contract ends.

Reliant Energy Solar Payback Plus Not published by the Reliant Energy website. You must call them or send an email. Not published by the Reliant Energy website. Available for solar power systems up to 50 kW.

No solar buyback limit, and unused credits are rolled over to the next month.

Rhythm Energy Solar Buyback 12 10.2 ¢ / kWh 20.4 ¢ / kWh Available for solar power systems up to 50 kW.

No solar buyback limit, and unused credits are rolled over to the next month.

Shell Energy Solar Buyback 12, 24 Real-time wholesale market price, published by ERCOT. 12.2 ¢ / kWh
(Solar Buyback 12)
No solar buyback limit, and unused credits are rolled over to the next month.
TXU Energy Home Solar Buyback 12, 24, 36 9.5 ¢ / kWh
(Solar Buyback 12)

5.0 ¢ / kWh
(Solar Buyback 24)

Same as retail price, without TDU charges
(Solar Buyback 36)

17.9 ¢ / kWh
(Solar Buyback 12)

14.9 ¢ / kWh
(Solar Buyback 24)

17.5 ¢ / kWh
(Solar Buyback 36)

The maximum credit available for surplus solar generation is your monthly energy usage from the grid. Credits cannot be rolled over.

*NOTE: This table provides the kWh prices offered in the Oncor service territory.

Austin Energy Solar Buyback For Homes and Businesses

Austin Energy is the municipal utility of Austin, and they manage separate solar buyback programs for residential and commercial clients.

Residential energy consumers get a Value of Solar (VOS) credit for every kWh generated, at a rate of 9.91 cents/kWh. Since this incentive is for solar power generation, you get it for the full output of your photovoltaic system, not only for surplus production – the value is then subtracted from your total power bill.

Austin Energy also offers a cash rebate of $2,500 for eligible home solar systems with at least 3 kW of capacity. Multifamily buildings are also eligible for this solar rebate, with a limit of $2,500 per dwelling unit. The normal incentive rate is $0.60/watt, but nonprofits can qualify for $1.00/watt (the limit per unit applies in both cases).

Since January 2018, commercial consumers also get the VOS credit. However, there are two possible values depending on the system capacity:

Commercial Solar System Size Value of Solar (VOS) Credit
Smaller than 1 MW (1,000 kW) 9.91 cents/kWh
1 MW or larger 7.24 cents/kWh

In addition to getting the Value of Solar (VoS) credit, commercial electricity consumers with solar arrays can choose one of the following incentives:

  • Performance-Based Incentive (PBI) – The solar PV system gets a credit for each kilowatt-hour generated, during five years.
  • Capacity-Based Incentive (CBI) – The solar PV system gets an upfront incentive, which is calculated based on installed capacity.

These incentives change depending on the type of electricity consumer and the capacity of the solar array, according to the following table:

Type of Customer CBI PBI
Nonprofit organization $1 per watt DC, up to $482,000 Not available
Commercial user with a solar installation below 75 kW $0.60 per watt DC 9 cents/kWh (five years)
Commercial user with a solar installation over 75 kW, smaller than 400 kW Not available 9 cents/kWh (five years)
Commercial user with a solar installation ranging from 400 kW to 999 kW Not available 7 cents/kWh (five years)
Commercial user with a solar installation larger than 1 MW Not available 5 cents/kWh (five years)
Austin Energy

San Antonio: CPS Energy Net Metering

CPS Energy has a net metering program for energy consumers, with the following rules:

  • All electricity generation below the monthly consumption is credited at full price. For example, if a home consumes 500 kWh from the grid, and exports 450 kWh of surplus solar production, the bill is calculated for 50 kWh.
  • If electricity generation is higher than consumption, the surplus is credited at the avoided cost rate. This is the price that CPS Energy would have paid to get that electricity from power plants.

CPS Energy also offers a solar rebate program for small businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations. The incentive is $0.60/watt up to 25 kW, and $0.40/watt for any capacity above 25 kW. The incentive cap per project is 50% of costs up to a maximum amount of $80,000 (whichever is less).

  • The rebate is increased by $0.10/watt when using local solar panels.
  • The rebate is decreased by 25% when hiring non-local installers.

Net Metering Programs in Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth

Unlike Austin and San Antonio, where a single municipal utility sets the rules for solar power, Houston and DFW have a deregulated market where electricity consumers can choose their provider. This section will focus on the main retail electricity providers (REP) with solar buyback programs: Rhythm, Shell Energy, Green Mountain, TXU and Reliant.

Rhythm Energy Rooftop Solar Buyback Program

Rhythm Energy has a popular solar buyback plan for Texans that allows for a one for one kWh rate. The Rooftop Solar Buyback Plan is a 12 month contract with a fixed energy rate. This means your rate stays the same, no matter what the Texas electricity market does.

Shell Energy Solar Buyback Program

Shell Energy has the Solar Buyback program for the Oncor and CenterPoint service areas. All surplus generation from solar PV systems is credited at the real-time wholesale price, and subtracted from subsequent power bills. There is no solar buyback limit and unused credits are rolled over to the next month until you need them, but there is no cash payment option.

Green Mountain Energy Renewable Rewards Program

Green Mountain Energy offers the Renewable Rewards program, where surplus generation is credited at the retail price. However, you cannot accumulate credit above your consumption (no rollover to the next month). 

The Renewable Rewards program is available if you have a bidirectional power meter and your solar energy system capacity is below 50 kW. This program is also available for wind turbine owners.

TXU Energy Home Solar Buyback Program

TXU Energy offers the Home Solar Buyback program, where you get credit for surplus generation at the retail energy price. The main drawback of this program is that the maximum monthly credit is limited by your consumption. This means you cannot claim credits for solar production that exceeds your consumption, and there is no rollover.

Champion Energy Solar Buyback Programs

Champion Energy has become one of the fastest growing REPs in Texas. They have several electricity plans with a solar buyback option, which also offer other benefits:

  • Champ Saver – Fixed kWh price for 1-3 years.
  • Champ Silver – Discounts for customers aged 60 or higher. $50 in free LED bulbs and smart appliance rebates when signing for at least 24 months.
  • Green Energy – 100% of your grid consumption is generated from green sources. 
  • Free Weekends – Free electricity period during the weekends, for 18-24 months.

When you export surplus solar power, Champion Energy applies the real-time settlement price of the wholesale market, which changes at 15-minute intervals. This is a major advantage during summer at times of peak demand, since the wholesale price can become much higher than your retail price.

El Paso Electric Company Net Metering

El Paso Electric (EPE) offers net metering solar power systems up to 50 kW, which practically covers all residential systems. However, your solar PV system must be sized based on your electricity consumption during the last year before the installation, which means you cannot oversize. 

Electricity is credited at the retail price, and you can reduce your power bill to a minimum of $30.25 per month. EPE will pay you for any accumulated credits whenever the balance reaches $50. If necessary, EPE will install a bidirectional power meter at no cost for the client.

Net Metering Programs in Lubbock Texas - Solar Buy Back Plans Lubbock Power and Light Net Metering

Currently, Lubbock is in the process of joining the ERCOT power grid. Lubbock Power & Light connected 70% of their system to ERCOT in May 2021, and the remaining 30% will connect by May 2023. Once LP&L has fully joined the deregulated electricity market, Lubbock citizens will be able to choose their retail electricity provider. In the meantime, LP&L will continue operating as their provider.

LP&L has a net metering program for solar power systems, but the company has not explained what will happen when Lubbock is fully connected to the ERCOT grid. LP&L will most likely remain as the default electricity provider for customers who don’t choose another one, and their net metering program can be expected to remain available. Lubbock consumers who choose other providers will be subject to their respective net metering conditions.

  • To join the LP&L net metering program, your solar panel system must first get a permit from the City of Lubbock Building Inspection Department.
  • LP&L will then add your account to their net metering program, after installing a suitable power meter for your property.
  • The LP&L net metering program is available for solar power systems up to 10 kW.

LP&L offers net metering up to 100% of your consumption, and there is no credit for surplus production above your monthly consumption. However, LP&L offers another incentive: homeowners with solar panels have access to lower kilowatt-hour prices when using the grid. The best strategy is installing a solar power system that generates less electricity than what your home consumes, and purchasing the difference from LP&L at discounted price.

The kilowatt-hour prices charged by LP&L for electricity consumption that is not covered by your solar panels are extremely low. These kWh prices are only available for solar owners in their net metering program:

Time of the Year kWh Price for LP&L Net Metering Customers
Summer months, June – September $0.01292/kWh up to 1,000 kWh

$0.02349/kWh for consumption over 1,000 kWh

Non-summer months, October – May $0.00397/kWh up to 1,000 kWh

$0.01175/kWh for consumption over 1,000 kWh

The LP&L net metering program is unusual, but beneficial for homeowners. This program rewards solar panel systems that are properly sized, with net metering up to 100% of your consumption and a low kWh price for consumption not covered by your solar panels. However, oversized solar power systems get no rewards for generating electricity above your consumption, and there is a 10 kW capacity limit.

If you live in a home with solar panels in Lubbock, and you plan to switch your electricity provider when the market opens, check their net metering conditions. Make sure your next electricity provider offers a solar buyback program in Lubbock, or you may no longer get credit for surplus generation. In this case, you would be forced to switch your electricity plan again, or install a battery system.

Xcel Energy: Net Metering in Amarillo

Amarillo and most Panhandle cities are not connected to the ERCOT grid, and instead they get electricity from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). Unlike the ERCOT grid, which is completely inside Texas, the SPP crosses several states and is subject to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Homes and businesses in Amarillo get their electricity through the SPP grid from Xcel Energy, who offers a net energy metering program.

  • Xcel Energy measures surplus production from solar panels, subtracting it from your monthly power bill at the full retail price.
  • If your solar generation is higher than consumption, you get a payment for the surplus kWh at the monthly fuel cost factor published by Xcel.
  • The net metering service also has a service fee of $20/month.

Xcel Energy customers in Amarillo can also accumulate Renewable Energy Credits or RECs for solar generation. You get one REC for every 1,000 kWh generated by your solar panels, and these credits can then be sold to organizations with renewable energy obligations. In simple terms, one REC is the proof of having generated one megawatt-hour (1,000 kWh). They are purchased by companies who are subject to clean energy mandates, but there are also organizations who purchase them voluntarily.

Brownsville Public Utilities Board Net Metering

The Brownsville Public Utilities Board provides electricity for nearly 50,000 residential customers and more than 6,300 commercial customers. To serve its clients, Brownsville PUB uses a combination of direct-ownership power plants and electricity purchases in the wholesale market. As of September 2022, they charge the following electricity rate for residential consumers:

  • $6.94 fixed customer charge
  • $0.04862/kWh up to 500 kWh
  • $0.05964/kWh for consumption over 500 kWh
  • Variable fuel and purchase energy charge (FPEC), $0.07360/kWh as of September 2022
  • In other words, the first 500 kWh are billed at $0.12222/kWh, and the price increases to $0.13324/kWh for consumption over 500 kWh.

Brownsville PUB has a net metering program for solar panel systems and small wind turbines. Both system types must be approved by the City of Brownsville Building Permit Division, and surplus electricity is credited at the Fuel & Purchase Energy Charge (FPEC). There is an upfront fee of $100, which covers the cost of upgrading to a bidirectional power meter.

Net Metering Programs in Beaumont, Texas Entergy Texas: Net Metering in Beaumont

Entergy Texas provides electricity for several eastern cities, including Beaumont. The Entergy service area is covered by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which operates across state borders subject to FERC regulation. MISO is independent from ERCOT, which operates completely inside Texas without federal regulation.

Entergy Texas classifies solar power systems into small qualifying facilities (SQF) and large qualifying facilities (LQF) depending on their installed capacity, and this determines the net metering conditions offered by the company.

  • Generators with a capacity up to 100 kW qualify for Schedule SQF.
  • Generators over 100 kW qualify for Schedule LQF.
  • Schedule SQF has special conditions for generators below 50 kW using renewable sources like solar energy, wind energy and biofuels.

Entergy Texas offers net metering under Schedule SQF, but surplus electricity production is credited at their avoided cost, not the full retail price. This avoided cost is calculated as an average of peak and off-peak rates, based on the latest annual filing with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT). Consumers under Schedule SQF may also qualify for capacity payments as a class, but only if their generation systems reduce capacity costs for Entergy.

  • If your solar generation is higher than your consumption, and the balance in your favor is higher than $50, Entergy will send you a check.
  • If your credit is lower, it will be rolled over to the next month until the balance reaches $50.

Schedule SQF has a monthly charge of $12.35 for customers with a delivery voltage below 2,400 V, and $22.65 for customers between 2.4 kV and 34.5 kV. However, customers with bidirectional power meters and renewable energy systems up to 50 kW of capacity are exempt from this charge.

Schedule LQF (>100 kW) also includes solar buyback, but Entergy Texas calculates the kilowatt-hour price paid to each customer independently. To determine the monthly avoided cost, Entergy uses energy settlement data provided by the system operator (MISO).

City of Brenham Net Metering

The City of Brenham Electric Department also has a net metering program, similar to EPE. Solar generation below your monthly consumption is credited at full price, while surplus generation is credited at the avoided cost rate, which is reviewed and updated annually.

The City of Brenham municipal utility manages 119 miles of power lines and two substations, with over 6,900 electric accounts.

Final Recommendations

Solar buyback programs in Texas are as varied as the retail electricity providers in the deregulated market. Each company sets its own rules, and some offer better deals than others. If you are considering a solar PV system for your property, find an solar electricity plan that offers favorable conditions:

  • Look for net metering to get full credit for surplus generation. If you don’t have access to net metering, look for the best feed-in rate available.
  • Check the conditions for surplus generation: Look for a plan where you can roll-over credits for subsequent power bills.

Some regions in Texas don’t have deregulated power, and you can only buy electricity from one company. However, net metering is available in some cities with a single power company, which include Austin, San Antonio and El Paso.

Solar Buyback Programs for Commercial Properties

For information regarding net metering incentives for commercial buildings, we recommend ProStar Energy Solutions. From conception to installation, Pro Star Energy consultants can manage your corporate solar project and make sure you get the maximum payout from your panels.

Read more about commercial net metering in Texas and the United States.