FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2009
This legislative session we've proposed almost a hundred bills that will lead Texas to create or expand projects that can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by replacing them with green energy.
The organization Texas Is Hot posts on its web site, "Energy conservation is without a doubt the easiest option to lower bills, help the environment and lessen our nation’s energy dependence. However, an October 2008 report by the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy ranked Texas 19th in the nation for programs to promote energy efficiency in homes, appliances, transportation and electric utilities. We can change this. But we must start now."
I agree that we must start now, especially since Texas is the nation's leading consumer of energy.
My own Senate Bill 1419 requires electric companies 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 and smaller scale wind.
Renewable energy is generated from natural resources, such as sunlight, tides, rain, wind, biomass and geothermal heat that can be replenished naturally.
The 2008 Home Energy Efficiency Report by the Texas Comptroller reveals that while industry represents half of our state's energy consumption, homes account for 14 percent of demand.
"Most of that energy is electricity, more electricity than the average U.S. home, for which Texans are paying the price: The bills add up to 45 percent more each year than neighboring states, and 56 percent more each year than the national residential average," the report adds.
Homeowners can become equal beneficiaries of green energy programs. And we're heading that way. Already Texas has met the 2015 legislative target of 5,880 megawatts (MWs) from wind energy. Now we must utilize other renewable energy resources than just wind. Despite our top national ranking in solar resources, we haven't yet developed any large-scale solar projects in this state, nor have we utilized thousands of potential megawtts of geothermal energy, which is contained in the rock and fluid inside the earth's crust.
South Texas has a rich supply of geothermal resources – hot steam and air trapped below the Gulf Coast--that could power an electricity plant or directly heat and cool buildings.
On the other hand, the large agricultural crop waste that is routinely burned in South Texas could be converted into renewable biomass energy that could fuel our homes. The added benefit is that instead of pollution and haze from burning crop waste, we could create a biomass energy market for our area and beyond.
Biomass is organic material made from plants and animals that contains stored energy from the sun. Because more trees and crops can always be grown, and waste will always exist, biomass is a strong renewable energy source.
Another huge benefit is the creation of green jobs. For example, some Texas home-grown solar panel companies have expanded beyond their original cities, which has led technical colleges to begin training panel installers.
We have incredible renewable resources right here in Texas with an immense potential to provide our homes, schools, businesses and churches with power. As renewables become more prevalent, the cost to expand them will drop and so will greenhouse gas emissions.
Texas is poised to become the renewable energy leader of the country, and I, along with many of my colleagues, stand prepared to assist her in that role.
As always, if you have any thoughts or questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact my Communications Director Doris Sanchez, 512-463-0385.