Solar energy boost

The state senate has passed a bill that could make up to 500-million dollars available to homeowners and businesses that want to use solar energy.

Homeowners would pay 20-cents a month in their electric bills. Commercial and industrial users would pay more.

That's how the state intends to pay for the 500-million dollar rebate program if it becomes reality. The program would promote the use of solar energy.

The Bill would also require developers, with projects of more than 50 homes, to offer solar options.  Amarillo developer Ron Connally says, "Well it will affect the cost. If it's something mandated that a homeowner would have to do then it would be a cost issue. And those cost issues are our concern... In fact in the state of Texas for every $1,000 that the cost of a home increases, it eliminates 28,000 potential home buyers."

The bill also requires something that could potentially become a larger issue.

Many of the nicer homes in Amarillo have homeowner associations and many associations have restrictions for what homeowners can do on their property.

This particular bill would prohibit associations from keeping someone who wants a solar panel from putting it on his property. That may be not be an issue for a lot of associations but for some it could be quite a controversy.

The bill still must get through the State House of Representatives.