WAXAHACHIE — The use of renewable energy is on the rise in Waxahachie, as residents are looking at the sun to power their homes and lifestyles.
Over the past year, the Waxahachie City Council has approved 10 specific use permits for residential solar panel systems. Since the ordinance was enacted on Aug. 18, 2014, the number of applications approved totals 16.
Waxahachie resident David Turner is the most recent of those receiving approval for the panels after the council passed his request approved for a rooftop solar panel system Monday evening. Turner, who bought his home in August, has always liked the idea of limiting his carbon footprint.
“I think that the biggest reason is the self-sufficiency aspect. I really appreciate the ability to take care of myself if needed. The other aspect would be that we do enough damage as is, we might as well try to limit the impact as much as possible,” Turner said. “I appreciate the outdoors and want to take care of it where I can. I was a scout growing up. So you take care of your surroundings it will take care of you.”
The system that Turner will be installing on his home is from Solar City and consists of 32-34 photovoltaic panels that are going to be fitted to the backside of his home. It is a 12.4-kilowatt system
“I have always wanted solar panels. I find it extremely interesting. I like the science behind photovoltaic cells. I have always wanted them, but they have never been a good opportunity. We were actually at a gun show in Fort Worth, and Solar City had a little station set up there It really sparked my interest,” Turner said. “I started chatting with the guy. I found out that they would rent your roof from you to put this in. They charge you a flat rate fee to rent the panels from them, and then they take care of your roof.”
Turner said people have the option to purchase or to rent the panels if the roof on the house passes inspection. The review makes sure that this option will work for the homeowner. In the inspection, they look at where trees are at and the position of the sun in relation to the house.
“For my system, it would be a $90 flat rate fee (a month). All of the electricity that I use is $90. No more or no less. So if I create more energy it goes back into the grid for my neighbors to use,” Tucker explained. “Any energy I use at night that my solar panels are not producing I get a credit for the amount of energy that I put in throughout the day.”
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association website, the United States installed 14,800 Megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels in 2016 to reach 42.4 Gigawatts of total installed capacity. That is enough to power 8.3 million American homes. With more than one million residential solar installations nationwide and record-breaking growth in the utility-scale sector, the industry is poised to nearly triple over the next five years, surpassing 100 GW nationwide, the website stated.
Waxahachie City Manager Paul Stevens said one of the possible reasons for the increase in the applications is that solar panels are an attractive option.
“It is probably a combination of things. People may like the idea of green power. Another is if there is a savings of utility costs over time,” Stevens said. “I am sure they weigh those things when they are making those decisions.”
Solar City, who has installed several systems throughout the city, states on its website that the company had installed solar systems for more than 300,000 homes across the country. The website also says solar power creates 91 percent less carbon dioxide pollution than natural gas and 96 per less carbon dioxide than coal.
Waxahachie Director of Planning Darren Groth said residents that are interested in this option for their homes could make an application to the city’s planning department. In the application, building plans showing the layout and location of where their solar panels are going to be located must also be submitted. It also has to show the property and outline of the home.
The specific use permit for the solar panel system requires a $350 application fee. Once the application is processed notices will be sent out to property owners within 200 feet of the property, and a notification will be made in the newspaper. The request then is scheduled for two public hearings.
For more information about installing a solar panel system contact the city planning department at 469-309-4000. Waxahachie City Hall is located at 401. S. Rogers St. in downtown Waxahachie.
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