Bill of the Day – SB 15 – was good, now not so much

Today, the Senate Natural Resources Committee passed out a state energy policy bill that no longer calls for the closure of the state’s worst air polluting power plants

According to committee chair Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), Senate Bill 15 would create a 12-member Texas Energy Policy Council to advise legislators on “strategic, market-based” energy and environmental choices over the next 20 years.  We all know how well favoring market-based energy has worked since deregulation here in Texas.

The committee substitute for the original bill that was filed clearly favors coal-fired electric plants even though Fraser sold the committee on the idea that it was not intended to give a competitive advantage for one type of generation over another.

The bill, also directs the Texas Railroad Commission, to conduct a study projecting reserves and future prices of coal and natural gas.

The bill, as filed, directed the Public Utility Commission to identify the heaviest air polluting power plants and recommend closure of at least 4,000 megawatts worth of electric generating capacity.  The bill, as substituted and passed out of the committee, removes that language and instead would only require identification of the 10 percent of electric generating capacity that would be “most impacted by compliance with environmental regulation” and “barriers to retirement” of those plants.

The new energy policy council created by the bill would consist of officials from the Texas House and Texas Senate, the Public Utility Commission, Texas Railroad Commission, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, General Land Office, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, State Energy Conservation Office and academia.

So chalk up another win for fossil fuels, at least so far this session.