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Houston rolls out discounts on solar installation to move the needle on lower-carbon options

Houstonians, here's your sign to score solar panels at a discount. Photo by Kindel Media/Pexels

A city of Houston initiative is offering a discounted rate for solar panel installation for homeowners and small businesses.

This year's Solar Switch Houston deal produces an average savings of $5,315 for each Houstonian who registers with Solar Switch, according to a news release from the city, which partnered with the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors. It's the third time the organizations have teamed up to provide the discount.

“We had great success with the first two rounds of Solar Switch Houston where residents were provided with a trusted information source and a substantial group discount,” City of Houston Interim Chief Resilience and Sustainability Officer Nicholas Hadjigeorge says in the release. “I am confident that the savings attained in the third round of the program will play a crucial role for residents deciding if solar is the right choice."

The organization vetted solar installers, factoring in "product quality, warranties, company financial stability, and history of customer satisfaction," per the news release. These installers then participated in a reverse auction to provide the discounted services. Those interested in learning more can head to SolarSwitch.com/Houston.

"Everyone deserves to benefit from generating their own solar energy. That’s why we designed Solar Switch – to make installing solar affordable and straightforward for more Houstonians than ever before," America Garcia, Texas program director for Solar United Neighbors, says in the release. "I’m excited to see how much we can broaden the reach and benefits of solar group buying with the continuation of Solar Switch Houston."

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A View From HETI

Houston could have ranked higher on a global report of top cities in the world if it had a bit more business diversification. Photo via Getty Images

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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