A Ray of Hope for Solar Power

Earlier this morning, I offered the consolation that bills which died due to the Voter ID debacle could be revived as amendments to other bills.  This afternoon, I’m keeping an eye on the Senate to see if my solar dreams will come true.

rays-of-hopeThis afternoon, the Senate has HB 1243 on their intent calendar.  HB 1243 is a “net metering” bill which would ensure that owners of solar installations, small wind turbines, or biogas generators get paid a fair price for the excess power they produce.  As HB 1243 is a solar-related bill, it can be deemed germane, or related, to solar SB 545, which “died” last night (as a reference, I’d also recommend this Houston Chronicle article).

Which means that SB 545 can (maybe, possibly) be amended to HB 1243.  Tentative huzzah!

It gets better.  HB 1243 is co-authored by Senator Troy Fraser — the same fellow who sponsored SB 545.  As both of these bills are Fraser’s babies, the chances of SB 545 living on as an amendment are looking pretty good.

Senator Fraser has yet another opportunity with this bill to fix a gaping hole in the 500 MW non-wind renewable portfolio standard (RPS) passed last session.  When this bill was passed, the RPS was described as a “goal” rather than a “target” — which due to a rather frustrating determination by the PUC, means that it can be interpreted as a recommendation rather than a requirement. Fraser was heard in committee calling this determination “the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard.”  Translation: PUC has decided they don’t actually have to do anything to work toward that 500 MW of non-wind renewables.

fraserDuring these dark, cloudy times at the Texas legislature, Senator Fraser can shine a ray of hope into the Senate chamber.  He can create a pool of $500 million in solar rebates over the next 5 years, start a pilot program to put solar on schools, and create as many as thousands of green, local jobs in one fell swoop.  He can fix net metering so that individuals get a fair buy-back for the excess electricity they produce and actually have an incentive to shell out the cash for a new solar installation.  He can also ensure that Texas ends up with an additional 500 MW of non-wind renewables.

So cross your fingers, cross your toes… cross your arms and legs if you think it will help.  If Senator Fraser is your representative, give him a nudge — but otherwise, I’d stick to chanting.