Updated 1 week ago

Should Texans go solar with Reliant Energy Retail Services?

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Reliant Energy Retail Services is a retail electric provider in Texas under parent company NRG Energy.

Texas homeowners can choose what company they purchase their electricity from. Reliant Energy Retail Services, or Reliant Energy for short, is one of the most popular electric companies for Texans because of its reputation and reliability.

But that reliability comes at a price - Reliant’s electricity bills can reach well over $300 per month, depending on your rate plan, location, and energy consumption. 

There is a way to stay with a trustworthy provider like Reliant but spend less on your Texas electric bill. How? By installing solar panels! In fact, you stand to save hundreds of dollars per month with Reliant when you go solar. Let’s get into everything you need to know about going solar with Reliant Energy Retail Services.

Find out what size solar system is right for your specific home

Key takeaways

  • Reliant Energy is one of the most popular and trusted retail energy service providers in Texas, serving more than 1.5 million Texans in over 50 cities.

  • Reliant’s Simple Solar Sell Back plan is an exclusive electricity rate available for homeowners who install solar through Reliant’s Solar Energy Experts and partnered installers.

  • Under the Simple Solar Sell Back plan, homeowners get credited the full retail rate of electricity for the excess solar energy they send to the grid with no limit on how many credits you can earn.

  • If you already have solar panels, you can use the Solar Payback Plus rate plan, but you will not get the full retail rate value for excess energy.

  • The specific rates you will get vary depending on where you live, what utility company you use, and which rate plan you are on.

  • Both the Solar Payback Plus plan and the Simple Solar Sell Back plan can save a substantial amount of money on your electricity bills.

Does Reliant Energy serve my area?

Reliant Energy services municipalities throughout Texas, including large cities like Houston and Dallas. Most of their service territory is concentrated on the state's eastern portion, with a few exceptions, like Odessa and Midland.

You can find out if you’re in Reliant’s service territory here

Does Reliant Energy offer electricity plans for solar?

Reliant offers two solar buyback plans: one for homeowners with new solar panel systems and one for those with existing solar panel systems. Each plan has slightly different requirements and terms.

Simple Solar Sell Back plan

Reliant’s Simple Solar Sell Back plan is for homeowners who install new solar panel systems through Reliant’s program. The full details aren’t exactly clear, but it seems as though you consult with one of Reliant’s in-house Solar Energy Experts and be put in contact with a Reliant-preferred solar installation partner to get the panels up on your roof. 

Reliant doesn’t seem to provide any list of their installation partners, so be sure to ask during your consultation about what companies they partner with and if you have a choice in which company performs the installation. It also seems like Reliant provides financing but doesn’t give more specifics. 

Once the panels are up, you can start using the exclusive Simple Solar Sell Back plan. Under this rate plan, your solar panels will send energy to your home first. If your solar panels generate more electricity than your home needs, it gets sent to the grid, and Reliant pays you in the form of a bill credit.

The exact rates aren’t listed on Reliant’s site, but according to its press release for the plan, the credits are valued at “the same price per kilowatt-hour that homeowners pay for electricity”. There is also no limit on how many credits you can earn. The bill credits can then be applied to your final bill total to lower how much you owe each month. 

The Simple Solar Sell Back plan is about as good as it gets when it comes to buyback plans: you get the full retail value of your solar energy, and with no cap on how many credits you can earn, you could potentially eliminate all of your energy costs.

Solar Payback Plus plan

Reliant’s Solar Payback Plus plan is for homeowners who already have solar panels installed and are switching to Reliant. This plan works similarly to the Simple Solar Sell Back plan, where solar energy is first sent to your home, and any excess goes to the grid. Where the plan differs is how much the excess energy is worth.

Instead of being credited at the full retail rate of electricity, excess energy is credited at a lower value. The exact rate will be listed on your Electricity Facts Label and will be locked in for the duration of your plan term.

Depending on the excess credit rate, you can still get significant savings on your electricity bill through this plan, especially since Reliant removed the limit on how many credits you could receive each month.

This plan does not require using one of Reliant’s Solar Energy Experts or installation partners. The solar installer you choose will be the one who designs and sizes your solar system.

Are there any solar incentives for Reliant Energy customers?

Reliant Energy does not offer solar incentives, but your utility company might. Reliant customers who are serviced by Oncor, for example, may be eligible for a solar incentive worth thousands of dollars, so long as they pair their solar system with battery storage and meet other program design requirements.

What are the steps to going solar with Reliant Energy?

The specific requirements you need to meet in order to go solar will depend on your utility. Typically, this process includes submitting an interconnection agreement and site plan to the utility, receiving approval, and maybe an inspection or two, before finally getting permission to operate. 

The whole process can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months, depending on permitting hold-ups, approvals, and your utility’s exact requirements. You can find more information about what some of the top utility companies in Texas require for a solar installation: 

To get on Reliant’s Solar Payback Plus plan, you’ll need to submit proof that your utility has given you permission to operate. You’ll also need an electric meter to measure incoming and outgoing electricity.

If you’re applying for the Simple Solar Sell Back plan, you’ll need to get an assessment by a Reliant Solar Energy Expert, use a Reliant installer partner, and coordinate with your utility company.

Should I consider a different energy provider if I’m going solar?

Reliant has historically been one of the best Texas electricity providers for solar homeowners because they offered full-retail net metering. This recently changed, so solar savings with Reliant are now lower than what they once were.

Reliant Energy’s new Simple Solar Sell Back plan is one of Texas's best solar buyback plans. But we’re not so crazy about how you need to qualify for it, mostly because Reliant doesn’t make it super clear about what installers they partner with and what financing options they offer. We'd be a little less hesitant if there was a little more transparency.

If you don’t already have solar panels, it's definitely worth considering installing them through Reliant’s program because the buyback plan is so good. However, you should also get quotes from other local installers and see how their offers compare. Although an installer can’t provide you with an electric rate plan, they can help you navigate the available options.

If you already have solar panels or don’t want to use Reliant's installers, you can always choose to use Reliant’s Solar Payback Plus plan. While it doesn’t give you the full retail rate for excess energy, it still has an upper hand over solar buyback plans offered by other retail electric providers in Texas because there is no limit on how many credits you can earn each month.

Relying on Reliant when going solar

Overall, Reliant is one of the most popular electric providers in Texas for a reason; people trust them to get their electricity reliably. Are its solar buyback programs the best we’ve ever seen? No. But can they still save you hundreds of dollars a month? Yes, they can.

We will say that trying to find information about going solar with Reliant Energy is a bit of a pain - they don’t provide Solar Payback rates with the other Reliant energy plans on their site, and their Live Chat personnel do not take solar questions. So in order to get more information, you have no choice but to call Reliant directly at 1 (866) 735-1214.

The bottom line is if you’re trying to go solar, call up Reliant and any other electric providers in your area to find out what kind of buyback plans they have. From there, get a few quotes from different solar installers near you. Then you can determine what installer and retail electric provider gives you the best quality service at the right price, so you can start enjoying the benefits of solar.

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Written by Catherine Lane Solar Industry Expert

Catherine is the Written Content Manager at SolarReviews, where she has been at the forefront of researching and reporting on the solar industry for five years. She leads a dynamic team in producing informative and engaging content on residential solar to help homeowners make informed decisions about investing in solar panels. Catherine’s expertise has garnered attention from leading industry publications, with her work being featured in Sola...

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