SAN ANGELO, Texas — The Texas power grid has been a topic officials have consistently touched on since it failed during Winter Storm Uri in February 2021.
With the latest heat wave, a worst-case scenario - failure of the grid - was avoided thanks to the star of the power grid, better known as solar energy.
San Angelo is the home of a hidden gem, Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions which generates 200 megawatts of solar energy for West Texans.
Duke Energy began its Rambler Solar Project in San Angelo two years ago. This project generates to 40,000 homes when operating at full capacity and occupies about 1,700 acres west of San Angelo.
Company manager of solar operations Cody Tellgren said solar is consistently conserving our carbon footprint and the West Texas heat has helped meet the demand for energy.
“We've got really aggressive targets to be able to reduce our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. And renewables, again, specifically solar, a very large part of that. The great thing about it is it's completely carbon free,” Tellgren said.
Is it true that solar power is bailing out Texas this summer? Short answer, yes.
“Renewables are a very important part of our energy future as a company and as a country. It's definitely helping do its part to stabilize and keep things online,” Tellgren said.
Where people can contribute to utilizing renewable energy is going solar and relying on solar panels for energy in their homes.
According to the Electric Power Annual in the U.S. Energy Information Administration, solar power accounted for only 3% of U.S. electricity generation from all sources in 2020.
A San Angelo couple had solar panels installed five years ago and they fully recommend more people get into using solar energy. It’s been cost effective for them and they enjoy helping the environment.
But they did mention it would take a few thousand dollars to get them installed.
“We've got our own computer solar monitoring system where we can log in and have access to the system and see how it's producing and make sure all the little pinpoints in the grids are doing what they're supposed to do. If we've run into a snag, they've been more than willing to talk us through it and help us out and clean it up. I have no complaints,” residential solar panel user Don Barnhart said.
They also mentioned the best part about having solar panels is the little to no-cost electricity bill they get every month. Sometimes their energy company even pays them for having solar panels.
Renewables, especially solar, have in fact helped keep the air conditioning and lights on this summer while also being affordable.
Solar has been expanding rapidly in Texas, but there’s still plenty of room for growth in the future.