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Archive for the ‘Efficiency’ Category

While Austin City Council continues to move forward with an ordinance to transfer governing authority of Austin Energy from our elected City Council to an unelected board, Austin democracy is being attacked at in the state legislature as well.  Senate bill 410, sponsored by Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Paul Workman, would allow the city to establish an unelected board without a charter election, as our city charter calls for.

The issue of who should govern Austin Energy is important, but it’s also local in nature.  There is no need for state to amend Austin’s charter.  That is a right reserved for the citizens of Austin.  If the changes proposed by City Council are truly in the best interest of our city, that case should be made to the voters and decided upon at the ballot box. 

To have a state representative who doesn’t even live in Austin carrying a bill to change our charter is unacceptable.

The Austin City Charter was adopted by the people of Austin and the people of Austin approved a governance structure for Austin Energy that is accountable to the people through elections.

An unelected board won’t be directly accountable to the ratepayers and wouldn’t necessarily represent our values.  As we debate this issue in Austin the unelected board at San Antonio’s CPS Energy is slashing the rate customers with solar installations will receive for their energy in half without first consulting the public or the solar industry.  Austin Energy customers could be facing similar changes if we don’t act now to protect our rights.

SB 410 has passed the Senate and will be heard by the House Committee on State Affairs tomorrow.

Please consider attending the hearing and speaking against SB 410.

What: Hearing on SB 410 to change Austin’s charter to move Austin Energy governance to an undemocratic board without a vote by the citizens of Austin, as our charter requires.

When: 1:00pm on Wednesday, May 1

Where: John H. Reagan (JHR) building, room 140 – 105 W. 15th St., Austin, TX, 78701

Why: Because Austin Energy’s governance structure will impact decisions going forward, including on renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and rates.  This is the decision that will determine how other decisions are made.

You can register against the bill at the kiosks outside of room 140.  Even if you don’t wish to speak, registering against the bill would be helpful.  We hope you’ll consider saying a few words about the value of local democracy though.  Speakers will be limited to 3 minutes each.

SB 410 is anti-democratic and is one more example of the state government trying to interfere with Austin’s internal policies and governance.

We need your help to stop this bill.

Public opposition to SB 410 at Wednesday’s hearing may be the only thing that can ensure that our Austin representatives don’t let this bad bill move forward.

Please email Kaiba White at kwhite (at) citizen.org if you can attend the hearing at 1:00pm on Wednesday.

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You may have never heard of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), but it has the potential to make a huge difference in adoption of distributed renewable energy systems, such as rooftop solar installations. PACE allows businesses to borrow money from local governments to work on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the buildings they occupy.

Since PACE is funding is loans, there is no real expense to the taxpayer.  On the other side of the coin, it allows businesses to spread out the costs of becoming more environmentally friendly over time, all while lowering their monthly utility costs.  This strategy is a win-win-win for Texans.  Business save money, the environment benefits, and it cost Texans nothing.

The Texas Legislature is currently considering legislation that would move PACE forward for our state.  Senate bill 385 has already cleared the hurdle of the Texas Senate, and now is pending in our House of Representatives. House bill 1094 is still waiting be voted out of the House Committee on Energy Resources.  The House should move forward to adopt this common sense measure.

As of 2013, 27 states and the District of Columbia have PACE legislation on the books to help combat harmful emissions from electric generation.  States from California to Wyoming have enacted PACE programs.  Generally, in these states, the financing terms are 15-20 years.  It works very much like taking out a home loan, or perhaps a better example would be a home improvement loan, but for commercial properties. Disbursing the payments over a longer period of time makes these efficiency upgrades affordable for a wider variety of business.  It also makes upgrades attainable for smaller businesses.

I urge fellow Texans to get in touch with their State Representative and tell him or her to support the PACE bills (HB 1094 and SB 385).  This is common sense legislation that benefits everyone.

Click here to find out who represents you. 

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It wouldn’t be a Texas legislative session without some truly backwards bills.  Today we have House Bill 2026 by freshman Representative Sanford of Collin county that would eliminate our state renewable energy goals.

BeachWindIn 1999, the state of Texas made a commitment to renewable energy in the form of the renewable portfolio standard (RPS).  That decision played a major role in spurring the development of the wind industry in Texas.

We have now exceeded the renewable energy goals established in the 2005 update to the RPS and Texas has more wind energy capacity than any other state.[1]  On the surface that may seem to indicate that the RPS has been 100% successful and is no longer needed, but that isn’t the case.

One of the major reasons for establishing the RPS was to encourage diversification of our energy sources, which ultimately makes us more resilient to physical and economic forces that can impact the availability and price of energy sources.  While wind energy has increased from zero percent when the RPS was first established to around ten percent today, other renewable energy sources are still largely absent from our energy portfolio.

With more solar energy potential than any other state, Texas should be the center point of the solar industry as well.[2]  Instead we are lagging behind states with far less solar resources, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania,[3] and are paying the price in missed opportunities for job growth and new generation capacity that can produce during peak demand.

Solar companies invest in California and other states, because smart policies created attractive markets in those places.  California has 1,505 solar companies compared to Texas’ 260. Even New Jersey has more, with 382.[4] Texas should be doing more, not less to attract solar businesses to our state.

SolarInstallProjections showing that we won’t have enough electricity to meet demand by 2020.[5]  The maximum wholesale price of electricity has been set to triple by 2015, without even determining what the cost to consumers will be.  There have been workshops and meetings to consider the prospect of implementing a capacity market in Texas, which would raise costs even more.  But little time has been spent considering simpler, cheaper solutions such as expanding efficiency and demand response (where customers get paid to reduce there energy usage for short periods of time when demand is high) and getting more solar capacity built in Texas.  Solar is most productive when we need it the most – on hot, sunny afternoons.

The RPS should be retooled to focus on solar and other renewable energy resources that are most capable of producing during peak demand.  Millions of dollars could be saved in the wholesale electric market if we had more solar panels installed.[6]

Solar, like wind, also has the benefit of needing very little water to operate.  Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations need an occasional cleaning to keep performance high, but the amount of water need is minimal in comparison to fossil fuel options.  Coal-fired generators need billions of gallons of water to operate each year[7] and while natural gas-fired generations consume less water than coal-fired generators, they still use more than solar, even without accounting for the millions of gallons of water used to extract the gas with hydraulic fracturing.[8]  Including more renewable energy in our portfolio will make our electric grid less vulnerable to drought[9] and will free up water supplies that are desperately needed for human consumption and agriculture.

Abandoning the RPS now would send a terrible signal to renewable energy companies that are deciding where to establish their businesses.  Our state made a commitment that isn’t set to expire until 2025 at the earliest.  There is no good reason to abandon the policy now.  We should be moving in the opposite direction of what is proposed in HB 2026.  Instead of giving up on a policy that has been successful, we should be looking at ways to build on that success and benefit our state.


[1] AWEA. “Wind Energy Facts: Texas.” Oct 2012. http://www.awea.org/learnabout/publications/factsheets/upload/3Q-12-Texas.pdf.

[2] NREL. “U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS Based Analysis.” July, 2012. Pg. 10-13. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51946.pdf.

[3] SEIA. Solar Industry Data. http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-industry-data#state_rankings.

[4] SEIA. State Solar Policy. http://www.seia.org/policy/state-solar-policy.

[5] “Report on the Capacity, Demand, and Reserves in the ERCOT Region.” Dec 2012. Pg 8. http://www.ercot.com/content/news/presentations/2012/CapacityDemandandReservesReport_Winter_2012_Final.pdf.

[6] Weiss, Jurgen, Judy Chang and Onur Aydin. “The Potential Impact of Solar PV on Electricity Markets in Texas.” The Brattle Group.  June 19, 2012. http://www.seia.org/sites/default/files/brattlegrouptexasstudy6-19-12-120619081828-phpapp01.pdf.

[7] “Environmental impacts of coal power: water use” Union of Concerned Scientists http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c02b.html

[8] http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/energy-and-water-use/water-energy-electricity-natural-gas.html

[9] Wu, M. and M. J. Peng.  “Developing a Tool to Estimate Water Use in Electric Power Generation in the United States.” Argonne National Laboratory – U.S. Department of Energy. http://greet.es.anl.gov/publication-watertool.

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The South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER) enters its second year with an exciting Summit, designed to explore, further develop, and prioritize policies and strategies needed to push energy efficiency forward in new buildings, existing buildings, and electric markets in Texas and Oklahoma.

Ed Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, will deliver the keynote address to kick off the Summit in Austin on February 25. Mr. Mazria is an international leader on efforts to make buildings dramatically more energy and water efficient, leading the movement to establish 2030 districts in cities with goals to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. These districts have been established so far in Los Angeles, Seattle, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

Public Citizen members can receive a $50 discount off the registration. On the registration page, select “Early Registration- Supporting Organization” and then select “Public Citizen” from the drop down menu.

Sponsors of the SPEER Summit include Dow Chemical, CCRD Partners, Mitsubishi, Environments for Living, TexEnergy Solutions, BASF, the Texas Home Energy Raters Organization, and the CleanTX Foundation.

To learn more about the Energy Efficiency Summit, please visit: www.eepartnership.org/summit

 

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The Texas electric grid operator (ERCOT) has introduced an app for smartphones intended to alert Texas users about emergencies to the electric grid that could trigger rolling blackouts.  This alert system would urge consumers to conserve energy during those times.

In the midst of last summer’s record breaking heat, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas called on Texans to conserve when power generators weren’t able to keep up with extreme demand on several days. That conservation helped ERCOT avoid rolling outages. ERCOT has said it will probably have to call for conservation again this summer.  The new app will notify users of Apple and Android devices when the grid operator needs people to cut back usage to avoid blackouts.

iPhone, iPad and Android users can find the free ERCOT Energy Saver app by searching for ERCOT in the Apple and Google app stores, or you can link to the app below.

ERCOT will also use traditional methods of alerting the public about grid emergencies, but for the tech obsessed – this is a new option.  As for me, armed with my new smart thermostat, its smartphone app and the new ERCOT app, I stand ready to do my part.

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The International Energy Agency warned Thursday that the world is hurtling toward irreversible climate change in its annual World Energy Outlook.  They stated that we will lose the chance to limit warming if we don’t take bold action in the next five years, spelling out the consequences if those steps aren’t taken and what needs to be done to cap global temperature increases at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. That’s the threshold beyond which some scientists have said catastrophic changes could be triggered.

At the moment, the world is going in the wrong direction in terms of climate change.  Governments around the world have put increasing energy efficiency at the top of their to-do lists, but efficiency has worsened for two years in a row now in spite of the fact that the world has the technology to tackle the problem — just not the political will.

Rather than providing incentives to reduce consumptions, incentives to consume more have risen: The report said subsidies for fossil fuels have risen past $400 billion.  Only when “dirty” fuels become more expensive, will governments follow through on their commitments to increase energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency is generally considered the easiest way to reduce consumption since it has a price-incentive built in. It has become even more important since Japan’s nuclear accident sparked a rethinking of the use of atomic technology previously seen as key to cutting emissions.  In Texas, which is still in the grip of a record setting drought, efficiency may be the difference between rolling blackouts and keeping the lights and air conditioners on next summer.

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The worst drought in more than 50 years in Texas is expected to continue as a weak La Nina weather pattern is predicted to strengthen this winter.  Drought has already reduced cooling water needed by coal-fired power plants and may limit electric output from power plants next summer, an official from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT – the grid operator)  reported.

At this time, only one small generating unit is currently curtailed due to a lack of adequate cooling water, however a continuation of the severe drought in Texas could result in as much as 3,000 MW being unavailable next summer, Kent Saathoff, vice president of ERCOT grid operations told the board last week.

The drought has lowered the water level at nearly every reservoir in the state, according to the Texas Water Development Board. A lack of cooling water limits the ability of a power plant to operate at full capacity.

Texas’ hottest summer on record pushed power consumption to record levels, straining the state’s electric resources on many days in August.

Grid officials and lawmakers are worried that the drought will compound existing issues that impact the state’s power supply: looming environmental regulations that will curtail output from coal-fired power plants and a lack of new power-plant investment.

ERCOT predicts about 434 megawatts would be unavailable next summer if Texas gets about half its normal rainfall over the winter and spring months and if there is no significant rainfall, as much as 3,000 MW could be unavailable by May.

Power plant owners are taking steps to increase access to cooling water by increasing pumping capacity, adding pipelines to alternate water sources and securing additional water rights.  Some water authorities have already curtailed new “firm” water contracts, so it may be harder for plants to secure additional water.

Right now, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) is working to implement new energy efficiency legislation.  If we just used our energy more efficiently, we wouldn’t have come so close to a grid crisis even under the extreme circumstances of this past summer.  Other states have used energy efficiency to keep the lights on for their families and businesses when they were having problems by cutting energy demand by 20% or more on the hottest days of the summer.
Studies have shown that Texas could cut 23% of our peak energy use on the hottest days and it would be cheaper than generating electricity.
To prevent rolling blackouts next summer, the governor and the PUC could improve the energy efficiency and market-based conservation programs that will keep our air conditioning running on hot summer days and keep our local  businesses operating . 

The Texas Public Utility Commission should:

  • Reward utilities that exceed their energy efficiency goals.
  • Use the money from a program set up to provide utility assistance for eligible Texans that is funded by fee Texans pay on their electric bills every month for the weatherization of low-income homes.

And the governor can issue an executive order that requires all state agencies, schools, municipal and county governments to reduce energy use by 5% next summer and report their savings to the state.

You can email the governor and express your opinion by clicking here.

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The States Attorney general is leaping into the environmental fray once again with a filing with the federal appeals court to review the new EPA regulations while the Texas house state affairs hold hearings today, but Governors Perry’s attorney and chief is taking it one step farther filing against  four different rules according to the AGs web site:

“Specifically, Texas petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to stay the EPA’s greenhouse gas Endangerment Finding, the Light-Duty Vehicle Rule, the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Interpretive Rule, and the Tailoring Rule.”

After a record-breaking heat wave it seems that its turning out to be better to litigate than try to find a solution (problem what problem), with all the state agencies now following lock step on message. It was back in Pres Bush’s administration that some of the rules were proposed and many of Texas’s and the rest of the countries industries have been gearing up and cleaning up to meet the new rules. After the White House caved on the ozone rules one can guess that they are expecting to get away with anything they want.

Reported shortages of different inhalers for the treatment of breathing difficulties by pharmacies,along with studies showing that Texas can meet the new cross state pollution rule and clean up the air don’t seem to carry any weight with this administration. Recent press releases on the loss of 500 jobs by Luminant (take a look at their stock market filings if you think this is just about federal intervention) and our previous post ,after the state just got done axing over 6000 jobs with its heavy-handed budget process, are making headlines. “Jobs for coal, but not for kids” might be a more appropriate  tag-line.

Its time to turn on the scrubbers, have the PUC come out with a strong energy efficiency rule to cut the load (a proven and cost-effective method) get a move on with the 500Mw non-wind renewable rule  that keeps getting tabled (and not paying companies to try to un-mothball old generation units). Just maybe we can get a little more fresh air and some non polluting peaking energy when we need it.

Leadership not lawyership is more of what we need.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Electric Reliability Council of Texas

Image via Wikipedia

Its predicted that the entire state will have record temperatures this weekend. Please take all measures to avoid using unnecessary energy. They might have a hurricane on the east coast but we have a heat wave in Texas and there might not be enough electricity to go around.

Statement from ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett on the need for conservation through the weekend:

Our information indicates this weekend will be one of the hottest on record in some areas of Texas. Electric demand and usage will be extremely high and we need every person to help us conserve electricity between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Please help us keep the power flowing to every Texan in ERCOT by turning up your thermostat a few degrees if you’re able, turning off unnecessary lights and appliances and doing dishes and laundry in the morning or after 7 p.m.

Your efforts do make a difference and are appreciated.

Conservation Tips
Consumers can help by shutting off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances between 3 and 7 p.m., and delaying laundry and other activities requiring electricity-consuming appliances until later in the evening. Other conservation tips from the Public Utility Commission’s “Powerful Advice” include:
Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans in occupied rooms to feel cooler.
When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun.
• Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffee makers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
• Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.
• Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven.
• Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or evening instead of the afternoon.

Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible. Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.

Media Contact: Theresa Gage
[email protected]

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Pearl Brewery San Antonio

Pearl Brewery, San Antonio - home of one of the largest solar roofs in the region

We’re in the midst of a heat wave and drought that are on record to be Texas’ worst in recorded history. (and now imagine if global warming actually kicked in, the way all those scientists say! *wink*)

But we have a few options. Cope, adapt, or conquer. I much prefer the last solution to the first.

First, we can cope. Rep. Joe Barton from here in Texas once famously said in a Congressional hearing that his constituents don’t have to worry about global warming- they’ll just find some shade. Well, we can do that. We can also do what is more likely which is just go sit in our homes and offices and blast the air conditioning as much as we can to make these ever-warming, record-breaking hot, dry summers as tolerable as possible.

The only problem is, all that electricity comes from somewhere. And with record-breaking demand on the ERCOT grid, they have been warning Texans to conserve or risk rolling blackouts. And while blasting the a/c may seem like an affordable luxury for the people who live in the McMansions of West Austin, I don’t know about the rest of you, but most Texas families can’t afford the huge energy bills that would be associated with just setting the thermostat at 70 and letting it go.

We can already see what coping is getting us.

(more…)

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Texas is suffering from an historic drought and one question that looms large is – how much rain will we need to actually end the drought?  And the answer is –  A LOT!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates 12 to 15+ inches of rain (shades of purple and dark blue) is necessary for most of Texas to end the drought, as shown in the graphic below.

Even those small parts of the state not needing those massive amounts of rainfall to end this drought will require six to twelve inches of rain to recover.  With the Climate Prediction Center now saying there is a 50/50 chance of a return to La Nina conditions this fall which almost always results in drier than normal conditions for Texas and most of the South, the potential for recovery any time soon is pretty slim.

It has taken months for the drought to get to the level it is at now and it will take months or even years to return to normal.  But all indications are that there is no major relief coming soon and if you haven’t already done so, consider taking measures to reduce your water and electricity use for the long haul.  For ideas on how consumers can do this, check out the Texas Is Hot website for tips on how to reduce your energy use, and TCEQ’s Take Care of Texas website for tips on conserving water.

 

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“In 2007, little seemed problematic about the energy-efficient light bulb or the law signed by President George W. Bush, which called for the incandescent bulb to be phased out in favor its energy-saving counterpart. But that was before the rise of the Tea Party”.

So begins an article by Natasha Lennard in Salon

Why is the Tea Party suddenly obsessed with light bulbs?

by Natasha Lennard of Salon

In 2007, little seemed problematic about the energy-efficient light bulb or the law signed by President George W. Bush, which called for the incandescent bulb to be phased out in favor its energy-saving counterpart. But that was before the rise of the Tea Party.

Suddenly, saving the old-fashioned 100-watt bulb — which wastes most of the energy it consumes and costs households more in energy bills than the new model — has become a matter of personal liberty. And so, House Republicans on Monday will seek to repeal the 2007  law, which calls for the phaseout to begin in January 2012.

The law has been dubbed “the light bulb ban” by activists on the right and has struck a Tea Party nerve. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann have all called it government intrusion par excellence. It essentially mandates that no new bulbs can go on the market after January ’12 without meeting a new, higher standard of energy efficiency. Bulbs that don’t meet the standard but that are already in stores won’t be taken off shelves.

“It is one of those issues out there that just inflames people,” Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, co-sponsor of the bill that would reverse the phaseout, told Politico. “What in the world were you doing restricting the kinds of light bulbs in my home?”

Of course, you could also craft an argument that the law is fiscally conservative.  According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Analysis shows the standards [of the 2007 light bulb law] would save the country more than $12.5 billion annually when fully implemented in 2020.”

Energy Secretary Steven Chu showed little sympathy for libertarian stalwarts, when in a press conference on the issue he bluntly said, “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.”

And in an opinion piece for The Hill, Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., put the bulb debate in much needed context: “We’ve got big fights ahead, with real disagreements that will require us to find some common ground — like how to get our financial house in order, how to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and how to reform our education system. If Republicans and Democrats can’t come together on more efficient light bulbs, I have little hope of us tackling the bigger issues.”

And, of course, Texas was right in there leading the charge.  On June 17th, Governor Perry signed into law HB 2510 (Relating to exempting the intrastate manufacture of certain incandescent light bulbs from federal regulation).  Check out our earlier blog about why this legislation is such a futile fist-shaking at the federal government and really, not in the best interest of consumers.  And check out this article in the LA Times, poking fun at Texas for their new battle cry “Remember the Incandescent Bulb”.
The article concludes with musings by one of our own  – “And for all the hoopla over the Texas law, there is virtually no chance in the near future that residents of Lone Star State will be able to buy a state-made incandescent,” said David Power, deputy director of the Public Citizen office in Texas.

We don’t mine tungsten in Texas,” Power said. “So there is no place where they can get a Texas-made filament” for bulbs.

Way to make a statement Texas!

And if that wasn’t enough . . .

Texas’ Congressman Joe Barton took this fight to Capital Hill.  The measure was defeated, but not before it became the delight of comedian’s across the country.

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart slammed House Republicans relitigating a fight over incandescent light bulbs while the country was on the brink of default.

“I just want to make this clear,” Stewart said. “They aren’t fighting about light bulb standards. They are re-fighting a light bulb standards fight that we settled in 2007. We’re three weeks away from having to park our country down the street so China can’t find it and these yutzes are relitigating incandescent v. florescent.”

Watch this video from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, broadcast July 12, 2011.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

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Governor Perry has signed into law several pieces of energy efficiency legislation.  These include:

  • SB 1125 – changes how we measure our progress on energy efficiency from a percentage of growth in energy consumption to a percentage of peak energy usage.  Allows for greater demand side management (DSM) by allowing loads to participate in the daily balancing energy market. It also creates new efficiency programs and standardized forms and reporting for progress.
  • SB 898 – requires a 50% reduction in energy consumption (5% per year for 10 years) by all political subdivisions, schools, and state agencies.
  • SB 924 – requires municipal utilities and large co-ops to report their energy saving programs and results
  • HB 2077 – allows certain nonprofit organizations and churches to have access to the LoanStar revolving loan program to install energy efficiency measures and renewable energy.
  • HB 1728 – allows schools to enter into more flexible energy saving performance contracts

Public Citizen worked on all of these during the regular session, along with Businesses for an Energy Efficient Texas coalition (BEET).  These new laws will  help Texas be more competitive, create jobs, save taxpayer dollars and provide environmental benefits that improve air quality and reduce fresh water consumption. They will also help schools reduce their energy costs, making more money available for the classrooms.

Senator Carona, when asked about energy efficiency this past Legislative Session said, “Capturing more energy and associated economic savings for Texas taxpayers and businesses is a priority – especially with the challenges Texas and Texans face with the economy today.”

The Texas legislature should be applauded for their leadership in improving the state’s laws to help Texans be more energy efficient.

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But here in TexasLast week, Public Citizen, the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, Texas League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote to Governor Rick Perry urging him to veto House Bill 2510, “An Act relating to exempting the intrastate manufacture of certain incandescent light bulbs from federal regulation.”  

House Bill 2510 asserts that light bulbs manufactured in Texas and offered for sale and use within Texas are exempt from federal legislation requiring improved light bulb efficiency.  The environmental groups urged the Governor to veto this Bill for several reasons.

  1. This Bill is futile because it sets out conditions that almost certainly cannot be met.  Under the Bill, all of the specialized components used to make incandescent light bulbs must be made in Texas. But there is no evidence that light bulbs could be cost-effectively made from materials located in Texas.  Indeed, tungsten, a critical component of incandescent bulbs is not mined in Texas.  Earlier this year, Governor Brewer of Arizona vetoed a similar light bulb bill passed by the Arizona legislature because she recognized that the conditions of the bill could not be met.
  2. Even if the Bill were not futile as a practical matter, it will not achieve the outcome claimed since the Bill is expressly preempted by federal law and contrary to the numerous decisions of the Supreme Court. 
  3. This Bill sends the wrong signal about the direction that Texas’s economy is heading.  This Bill tells the world that Texas is moving backward, embracing the out-dated technologies of the Nineteenth Century. 

In fact, the opposite is true.  Texas has several companies researching, designing and manufacturing the most advanced LED lighting.  Just this past February the governor sought to move Texas forward by awarding an Emerging Technology Fund grant to an advanced LED lighting company.   This is the right direction for Texas.  But if the Governor doesn’t veto House Bill 2510 and it goes into effect, we will signal that Texas is embracing the past rather than the future.

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If you have been thinking about a new appliance, this weekend is a good time to get one, just remember to look for the energy star label and you will save dollars now and for the life of the unit. Something new for you that will help preserve our scarce resources and some cash at the same time.
Here is the announcement from the state on the offer

REMINDER: Save on Appliances This Weekend During the ENERGY STAR® Sales Tax Holiday – May 28-30, 2011 (more…)

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