Texas Law Gives a Boost to Renewable Energy

Texas, one of the original models for successful state support for renewable energy, has taken yet another step to promote clean energy. This week, Gov. Rick Perry signed new legislation to boost the state’s current renewable portfolio standard. The law includes a cut-out which could have particular benefits for solar energy.

The law, Senate Bill 20, by Senator Troy Fraser of Marble Falls, was passed in July during the First Called Session of the 79th Legislature. It expands the use of renewable energy in Texas over the next ten years, and takes steps to improve the electric transmission infrastructure for the benefit of all the state’s renewable energy resources. “This state’s wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric resources now stand side-by-side with our traditional energy sources in Texas energy policy,” said Russel E. Smith, executive director of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA). SB 20 adds 3,000 MW to the current 2,880 MW 2009 Goal for Renewable Energy and extends the date to 2015. In addition to supporting renewable energy development in West Texas, primarily from wind, all of Texas stands to benefit from the law’s new 500 MW target for non-wind renewable energy. Smith said this should result in energy projects using agricultural products and waste from the Panhandle to South Texas, forest trimmings and sawmill waste in East Texas, and from solar energy throughout the state. Smith also said that the transmission provisions are vitally important because renewable energy power plants can be built so much faster than other power plants. That means they often get ahead of transmission planning in the State. “We learned first hand that Texas needed to get serious about transmission planning and construction not only for renewables but for all generators. We are proud to have led the way on this issue for the entire State of Texas.” TREIA extended praise to Texas Railroad Commission and Texas Energy Planning Council (TEPC) Chairman Victor Carrillo and other members of the TEPC. Of course, this law did not happen overnight. TREIA worked with the Council for more than a year to develop their renewable energy goal that ultimately showed up in the law. “In spite of the pressing work of the regular and special legislative sessions, the fact that Governor Perry and the Texas Legislature worked so hard to pass this bill is testimony to the important position renewable energy now occupies in our energy portfolio,” said Karl R. Rabago, 2005 TREIA president and energy group director at the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) in the Woodlands. “From Austin to Washington, D.C. it is clear that increasing renewable energy development and policy support is the smart thing to do — economically, technically, and politically. All Texans can be proud of our policy leaders today.”
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