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Denton reaches milestone in rooftop solar

Denton Municipal Electric announced Friday that more than 100 customers now have solar panels powering their homes and businesses. 

A total of 86 homes and 16 businesses have the panels, which DME expects to produce about 1,137 megawatt-hours per year. Officials said that's about enough electricity to power 73 of those homes, given DME's average customer which uses about 1,300 kilowatt-hours each month. 

DME is a city-owned utility that serves about 55,000 customers in the city of Denton and surrounding area.

Solar energy provides only a small fraction of energy needs statewide, but investments are growing. Utility companies, businesses and homeowners invested about $2.2 billion in Texas solar power, with $937 million of that invested in 2016, according to an industry trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association. That translates into enough power for 136,000 homes, or about 1,200 megawatts of electricity. More than half of that electricity came online in 2016. 

Nearly 9,400 Texans work in the solar power industry. 

The Denton City Council has budgeted a limited amount each year for several years for solar incentives. DME will pay up to $30,000 per project for both residential and commercial customers that want to install solar panels. The utility has already exhausted its $200,000 budget for solar incentives this year. 

Budget talks are expected to begin at the end of July. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. 

To learn more about the variety of incentives DME pays for energy conservation projects, visit our collection of stories on the topic or the GreenSense page on the city's website

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. 

FEATURED PHOTO: Denton homeowner Theron Palmer is shown outside his home in the Denia area. He and his wife, Elida Tamez, have powered their home with solar energy since January 2016. DRC File Photo.