May 16, 2003
Texas a Leader in Renewable Energy, But Still an Underachiever
Statement of Travis Brown, Texas Energy Projects Director, on New Report by Union of Concerned Scientists That Grades States on Renewable Energy Goals
A report released this week that grades all 50 states on their efforts to promote renewable energy couldn’t be more timely for Texas.
A national wind power conference is being held in Austin next week, and the state Legislature on Tuesday is to consider an important bill designed to boost wind power development in Texas. We hope this report will help raise the profile of the value of renewable energy and push Texas to use more renewable energy.
The report, issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report and entitled Plugging in Renewable Energy: Grading the States, cited Texas as among the nation’s top producers of renewable energy.
But the Lone Star state also earned only a “C” grade from the UCS. That’s because the goals set by Texas for producing electricity from renewable sources are relatively modest.
While the report recognizes the great strides Texas has made in developing renewable energy, it also shows that the state needs to do much more to tap into its abundant renewable resources.
Under a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) signed into law by then-Gov. Bush in 1999, Texas currently is obligated obtain 3 percent of its electricity, or 2,000 megawatts, from renewable sources by 2009.
The new UCS report gives Cs to states that project they will obtain at least .2 percent more of their power from renewable energy sources each year for five years. To earn a “B” states had to have an annual goal of .5 percent more each year for five years.
Only two states, California and Nevada, received an “A” in the report. Three states – New Mexico, Massachusetts and Minnesota – received a “B.” In addition to Texas, 10 other states received a “C.” All 34 other states received poor grades of “D” or “F.”
Public Citizen and other citizen and environmental groups are pushing for the state to amend the RPS so that Texas will obtain 10 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2019.
Thanks to a boom in the wind power industry (some of the biggest wind farms in the world are now located in West Texas), Texas is almost halfway toward meeting its RPS goal. Almost 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy are produced annually in Texas.
The report credited Texas, along with four other states (California, Nevada, Massachusetts and New Mexico) with being responsible for nearly 80 percent of all the nation’s projected renewable energy gains in the near future.
We hope this report will be duly noted by the attendees of two upcoming conferences. The first is the American Wind Energy Association’s 2003 annual convention, which will be held in Austin next week, May 18-21. And next month, the American Solar Energy Society will hold its annual conference in Austin.
We also hope the report will be noted by the Texas Senate, when it considers HB 2548, which addresses electric power transmission problems that have severely dampened growth of wind power in West Texas and the Panhandle. The bill would allow the Public Utility Commission of Texas to order construction of power lines to help meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard goals.
Texas leads all states in the potential to produce renewable energy. Now is the time to move toward realizing much more of that potential.
Click here to see the UCS report online.