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Beneficial Wind Power Measure Breezes Through Senate, Will Greatly Help Sagging Wind Power Energy Industry

May 28, 2003

Beneficial Wind Power Measure Breezes Through Senate, Will Greatly Help Sagging Wind Power Energy Industry

AUSTIN – A wind power bill approved unanimously by the Texas Senate on Wednesday will greatly help the sagging Texas wind power industry get back on course, consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said today.

The legislation, HB 2548, was passed by the Texas House of Representatives on May 8. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Perry, who is expected to sign it into law.

The bill authorizes the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas to order the construction of new transmission lines to help solve congestion problems caused by the rapid development of wind power farms in West Texas.

“This legislation is a good step toward making sure Texas fully realizes the tremendous potential of wind power,” said Travis Brown, energy projects director for Public Citizen’s Texas office. “Wind power not only will help Texas become energy independent, but it also will help make us a major provider of clean, renewable energy to other states.”

HB 2548 was sponsored by Reps. Phil King, R-Weatherford; David Swinford, R-Amarillo; and Todd Baxter, R-Austin. In the Senate, the bill was sponsored by Troy Fraser, R-Marble Falls.

“Representative King especially deserves credit for his leadership in making sure Texas moves forward to solve the wind power transmission problem,” Brown said. “More wind power also means more jobs and more tax revenues for economically depressed rural Texas.”

As a result of more than $1 billion in investments by utilities and other companies in Texas in 2001, some of the world’s largest wind power farms were built in West Texas. But a lack of power transmission capacity in West Texas keeps as much as half of the power generated by these farms from reaching consumers in Texas cities, Brown said.

HB 2548 not only will help cities receive more power, but it also likely will ensure that new transmission projects ordered by the PUC are good deals for ratepayers, Brown said. Polls show that 79 percent of Texans are willing to help pay for transmission lines to move clean, cost-efficient wind power to market.