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Bills Would Boost Wind Power Industry, Help Solve Transmission Woes

April 7, 2003

Bills Would Boost Wind Power Industry, Help Solve Transmission Woes


Texas Lawmakers to Consider Bills on Tuesday

AUSTIN – Texas legislators are scheduled to hear testimony Tuesday on three bills that could help direct a strong breeze back into the sails of the state’s faltering wind power industry.

Wind power legislation to be considered by the House Regulated Industries Committee would help create new jobs and tax revenue in Texas and also lessen the state’s dependence on oil and coal, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said today.

The three bills include measures to help solve a shortage of electric power transmission capacity in West Texas and to increase the state’s goal for generation of power through wind and other renewable sources of energy.

“The wind power industry essentially is at a standstill because of the transmission problem,” said Travis Brown of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “Passage of legislation that enables the Public Utility Commission to order new lines should get wind power moving again in the state.”

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a proponent of developing more wind power in Texas, said, “The continued development of wind power in Texas is vital – it holds enormous potential as a clean, affordable source of energy for the state. Wind energy production on state lands means much-needed revenue for local Texas communities, as well as money for public education. Everybody wins.”

Expected to testify during Tuesday’s hearing are elected officials and community leaders from Abilene, Fort Stockton, McCamey and other West Texas communities that have benefited from wind power development in recent years.

“Wind power has provided good jobs so that our young people can come back home to live and raise their families,” said McCamey Mayor Sherry Phillips.

The three wind power bills scheduled to be heard Tuesday are:

  • HB 2548 addresses electric power transmission problems that have severely dampened growth of wind power in West Texas and the Panhandle. Introduced by state Rep. Phil King, D-Weatherford, it would allow the Public Utility Commission of Texas to order construction of power lines to help meet the state’s mandated goals for obtaining power from renewable sources such as wind and solar. King also chairs the Regulated Industries Committee.
  • HB 2910 would update the state’s goal for obtaining renewable energy, currently 3 percent of the state’s needs by 2009, by adding a longer-range goal of achieving 10 percent by 2019. The bill is sponsored by state Reps. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine; David Swinford, R-Amarillo; and George “Buddy” West, R-Odessa.
  • HB 3271, also sponsored by Gallego, calls for 50 megawatts of renewable energy to be produced in the state by 2009 through small-scale power generation – including wind and solar power – by businesses, individuals, farmers and ranchers, and other retail customers. Under the bill, retail electric providers would be required to buy energy trading credits from small-scale producers to meet the 50-megawatt goal.

As a result of more than $1 billion in investments in 2001, a dozen large wind farms now operate in West Texas and the Panhandle. But because of inadequate transmission lines, only about half of the power that these farms can generate is able to get to consumers.

Public Citizen issued a report in 2002, Renewable Resources: The New Texas Energy Powerhouse, on wind power’s potential impact on Texas communities. Click here to view the full report. Click here to view a summary of the report.

Texts and other information regarding the bills can be accessed online through Texas Legislature Online.

Note: The House Regulated Industries Committee is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Room E2.010 of the State Capitol Extension.