FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2009
Austin, TX — Yesterday sporting a shamrock at a Saint Patrick's week press conference involving a group of bi-partisan environmental, business and legislative leaders, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. expressed his support for renewable energy and presented his legislation.
Senate Bill 1419 would require electric utilities to increase the electricity amount they generate with renewable resources other than "high capacity wind" to reach the goal of 4,000 megawatts, or about five percent, of total electricity capacity for the state by 2020 using solar, geothermal, biomass and smaller scale wind.
In 1999, Texas produced its first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) as part of the state's electricity industry restructuring legislation. The RPS mandated that electricity providers (competitive retailers, municipal electric utilities and electric cooperatives) collectively generate 2,000 megawatts (MW) of additional renewable energy by 2009. In 2005, the Legislature and Governor increased the state's total renewable energy mandate to 5,880 MW by 2015 and a target of 10,000 MW in 2025.
"We have already met the 2015 target through the capacity generated by wind energy," said Sen. Lucio. "In fact, once we build transmission lines in West Texas, the Public Utility Commission is projecting that Texas will have more than 18,000 MWs of wind energy. Wind has been good to Texas, but it cannot meet all our needs, and it tends to blow mostly at night when we need energy the least."
Texas has more renewable energy resources than just wind. This legislative session legislators from both Chambers, both parties, and both rural and urban districts, have proposed a total of 92 bills on clean energy.
The “Texas Renewable Energy Resource Assessment” report recently issued by the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) found that Texas leads the nation in total wind, solar, biomass and geothermal resources, yet we have tapped only some wind in Texas. Despite being first or second in solar resources, Texas has not developed any large-scale solar projects, nor utilized thousands of potential megawatts of the earth’s geothermal resources.
"In my own district, farmers routinely burn crop waste, leading to pollution and haze, but if we create a market, these crops could instead be turned into energy to fuel our homes through renewable biomass," said Sen. Lucio. "We also have South Texas sun and geothermal energy, hot steam and air trapped below the Gulf Coast, that could either power electricity plants or heat and cool buildings directly."
Other legislators' proposals differ in their ultimate goal, their timeline and some of their provisions for reaching that goal. But the idea, according to Sen. Lucio, is the same: "grow renewable resources right here in Texas to provide our energy in a clean and affordable manner and make Texas the leader in these new technologies. In the process, these bills would produce not only energy, but jobs we desperately need. And they would do so without air pollution, massive water use or global warming emissions."
Another measure by Sen. Lucio, SB 1420, would facilitate the sale of surplus electricity produced through green energy, like solar panels, by public school districts to the electric transmission grid and distribution center, and then credited to the school district.
"The time is now to tap the powerful, clean energy resources we have and to create green jobs for Texans," added Sen. Lucio.
Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. introduces his green energy bill that will require electric utilities to increase their generation of electricity through renewable resources with a goal of producing 4,000 megawatts, or about five percent, of total electricity capacity for the state by 2020 at a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 18.