The Arlington Conservation Council hosts: "Solar Option: Obstacles and Opportunities,” for its annual Julia Burgen Lecture Series on Nov 5 at the Eunice Center in Arlington. Photos courtesy of the DFW Solar Home Tour. Above, the Westbrook home in Fairview.

Oct. 29, 2014

The Arlington Conservation Council hopes to enlighten residents on an industry that still leaves many people in dark: solar power. To answer  the community's questions and concerns about solar installation, the environmental group is bringing in local experts for “Solar Option: Obstacles and Opportunities” for its annual Julia Burgen Lecture Series on Wednesday, Nov 5.

The presentation will include a variety of panelists, including Bob Litwins, a member of Plano Solar Advocates; Kristy Tyra, program manager for Oncor’s solar incentive program; Tamara Cook, coordinator of the North Central Texas Council of Government Solar Ready II program; and a homeowner with solar installed, Danny Kocurek, who is also president of the Arlington Conservation Council.

Right, solar panels on a home in Flower Mound.

The panel will present information on residential installation, permitting, inspection, incentives, payback time and buyback programs, followed by a Q&A session.

According to Kocurek, ACC chose the topic of solar due to the growing interest in the renewable energy in light of cost reduction. 

“It seemed like there’s a lot going on in the last couple of years for incentives and options.”

Kocurek installed a 5K system on his home two years ago and is a devout advocate for solar power, both for its environmental as well as its economic benefits. 

“We have some bills in the wintertime and no bills the rest of the year.”

There are even some months with negative bills, he said.

However, despite solar’s appeal, it’s still intimidating to many homeowners. 

Left, a ground-mounted installation in Cedar Hill.

Litwins, an electrical engineer who walks others through the process as a volunteer for Plano Solar Advocates, said there are hurdles to installing solar that can bog homeowners down, including sticker shock.  

Installation costs on average around $17,500. But with incentives, the final cost may be reduced to as low as $8,500 or 5 cents per kWh, he said. There are also leasing options available.

The purpose of Plano Solar Advocates is to help homeowners calculate how much capacity they need, decipher federal tax credits, sift through electric companies' buy-back programs and assess company bids before choosing a solar installation company.

“The benefit is really being able to talk to somebody who's been through the process,” said Litwins.

Tamara Cook, manager of environmental and development programs at NCTCOG, said her organization is also developing resources to help residents and businesses interested in solar installation.

Right, Solar Trees track the sun and rotate throughout the day at Kohl’s Customer Services Operations Center in Dallas.

“We have collected some information from our 22 partner cities and DFW Airport – what their current permitting process is and how long it takes.”

She said they’re also working on a solar permit checklist for local governments who don’t have processes in place.

“We’ve just started to scratch the surface in the region [with regards to solar],” said Cook. “There are many commercial applications to be explored as well as opportunities to support emergency preparedness, such as using it to back up fire stations and hospitals.”

The free event will be held at 7 p.m. at the Eunice Activitiy Center, 1000 Eunice Street in Arlington. A reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. 

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