Longhorn Solar Stampede

By Susan Marx

Longhorn Solar owner Louis Petrik is excited about solar. So much so, in fact, he wants to start a 'solar stampede.' The idea is a simple one that builds on the relationships his company has with their existing customers. Longhorn is offering to pay for and host parties in the homes where they have installed a solar energy system. This will give neighbors and friends direct access to someone who already has a system so they can learn how it works first-hand. Nothing speaks louder than a happy customer. Louis envisions a future where there’s a solar energy system on every rooftop and is excited to tell the world about it.

Solar energy is a free and abundant source of energy. The sun shines down faithfully on us every single day – even when it is hiding behind a cloud. That makes it superior to every other energy source and, unlike coal or gas, solar energy doesn’t pollute the environment. It’s clean and green. But it gets even better for Texans. It turns out Texas is one of the best places in the country for harnessing the sun’s energy and converting it to electricity.

We have more “solar resource” than any other state.  Solar resource is the amount of sun energy (or radiation) that reaches the earth’s surface every day.  That energy is measured in kilowatts or kW.  That’s why, when you purchase a solar energy system, the size of the system is often expressed in kilowatts.  The larger the system, the larger the amount of energy it produces.  Here’s basically how it works…

“When we install a solar energy system, the energy it collects from the sun is direct current (or D.C.) and that is measured in watts.  The direct current goes through an inverter which changes the electrical flow to alternating current (or A.C. – the stuff that we plug our lights and appliances into at home).  The system plugs straight into the breaker panel and feeds the loads in the house or business.”

Once the solar-generated electricity meets the load demands of the home (or when you aren’t using any electricity) any excess energy flows back out on the grid, thus creating a credit. The ebb and flow of the power you generate and use sets up a reciprocal arrangement with your power company. When you pull energy from the grid (at night for example or on a cloudy day), your meter runs forward. When you contribute energy, it runs backwards or stays static. This is called net metering. Net metering is not mandatory in Texas but most utility companies participate in some form.  This represents a substantial way to lower energy costs. Louis said, “Systems can pay for themselves in 5-11 years or when you sell your house,” (depending on the installation and the amount of energy generated and used).

The size of the roof limits the number of panels and their tilt and angle to the sun determines the output of the system.  Generally, a system facing south and tilted at latitude will produce the most electricity.  Longhorn Solar installs rooftop and ground mount installations for homes and businesses, which gives customers even more options.  Homes that are under heavy shade may still have a solar energy system by placing the panels on the ground in a sunny part of the property. In either case, the solar energy goes directly into your existing system and that’s where the cost savings begin.

“Although the vast majority of people believe in solar as the best renewable energy source out there, most of them don’t know that the cost has dropped by 50% since 2010,” Louis said. Longhorn Solar offers a rebate in areas where they are otherwise not available. In San Antonio, City Public Service (CPS) and GVEC in the Guadalupe Valley offer some of the best rebates in the state. The federal government also offers buyers a 30 % tax credit. And it gets even better. There is a growing body of evidence that shows a rooftop system enhances the value of a home and allows the owners to recoup much of their original investment when they sell it.

Longhorn customer Daryl M. had an 18 kilowatt system installed in January and he couldn’t be happier. “I priced a smaller system about two years ago. The prices have come way down. Since then I bought a Tesla electric car so my energy bill was up about 30 percent. Longhorn installed the system rapidly and their workmanship is outstanding. I haven’t had any problems. I also added a monitoring system so I can tell where most of my energy is being used. It’s called an eGauge and I love it.  My first electric bill came today and I saved $98 for a partial month. The sun will be paying for my driving and it heats and cools my house. It doesn’t get better than that!”

Kitty S. and her husband own a home in San Antonio and purchased their rooftop PV system from Longhorn Solar too. Ironically, they used Longhorn to install their solar panels in a Texas A&M configuration. “They installed it in July and it was perfect from day one. We haven’t had to call them back for anything. On an average we save between $80-85 a month on our electric bill. What’s even better is that CPS gave us a 30 percent rebate within 5 weeks and we’ll be getting another 30 percent back from the IRS this year because we paid for the whole thing up-front.”

Once you learn the facts about solar, it’s easy to see that solar energy just makes sense and now it’s more affordable than ever. Louis started his Christian-based company in 2009.  Since then they have installed over 550 systems that have saved their customers over $550,000 off their utility bills and Longhorn is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds.  “I want to create as many jobs as possible and make the world a better place.” Longhorn Solar has offices in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. Visit them online at www.longhornsolar.com or call (210)566-8000 for a free solar quote or rooftop review.

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is the gold standard for Solar Installation and Technical Sales Certification. Longhorn Solar employs more NABCEP Certified technicians than any other solar installation company in Texas.

According to the Solar Foundation, solar is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. It employs nearly 143,000 employees nationwide – a 13.2 percent increase since 2011.