The Texas Senate voted in favor of S.B.931, which would repeal Texas' renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and undo its Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZs) transmission initiative.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, would end Texas' RPS at the end of the year while undoing the massive, $7 billion-plus CREZ project that unlocked the state's bottlenecked wind areas through the building of transmission lines.
In addition, the bill would require that any new transmission projects in the footprint of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas would no longer proceed through the CREZ process but would now be required to meet an economic needs test, a more onerous hurdle.
Adopted in 1999, the Texas RPS required 2,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity to be installed statewide by 2009. In 2005, the Texas legislature expanded the program to accommodate 5,880 MW by 2015 and included a target of 10,000 MW by 2025. Texas reached the 10,000 MW plateau in early 2010 – 15 years ahead of schedule.
The bill now moves to the House State Affairs Committee.
Advocates say the legislation is not only shortsighted, but would be harmful to the state's economy.
‘S.B.931 represents a step backward for the state of Texas and its 'all of the above' energy strategy,’ explains Jeffrey Clark, executive director at The Wind Coalition, a regional partner at the American Wind Energy Association. ‘It is harmful to investors committed to our state, and, because it focuses solely on killing incentives for wind and solar power, it sends the misguided message that the state will continue to support its energy industries, just not it's renewable ones.’
Clark says the signal from the legislature hurts not just Texas' renewable energy industries, but all of its economic development and industry recruiting efforts.
‘Wind energy is lowering Texas electric bills by more than $950 million each year, saving 13 billion gallons of water and bringing more than $40 billion in investment to rural Texas,’ he says. ‘Our industry is a bipartisan Texas success story, and we are hopefully confident that the pro-business members of the Texas House will give this bill careful consideration and then reject it as misguided, partisan and harmful.’