Posts Tagged ‘environment texas’

This week marks the six month anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, a catastrophic storm that killed 88 people and caused about $125 billion in damages. Scientists have shown that Harvey’s strength was fueled in part by climate change.

Houston Mayor Turner has voiced concerns about climate change and pollution, recently through an op-ed published in the Huffington Post entitled “Cities Must Get Creative In The Fight Against Air Pollution.” In this piece, Turner says that cities must address the poor air quality that too often disproportionately impacts low-income communities. Specifically, he states that he will protest permits for new concrete batch plants. Turner also plans to address climate change through using renewable energy to power city operations and through electric vehicle adoption.

Yet, the city of Houston can do more. The Houston Climate Movement came together last year before Harvey because we know that Houston is at risk for the impacts of climate change. The Houston Climate Movement advocates for a community-wide climate action and adaptation plan.

In response to Turner’s op-ed, we penned this letter to him:


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Wanna do something green to start off Earth Week? You can do this from your desk. Quick and easy:

  1. Sign up as a supporter for Clean Energy for Austin.
  2. Tell a friend or co-worker to sign on too!*

Austin City Council will vote on this forward-thinking energy plan this week! Clean Energy for Austin is a coalition that exists to support council passing this plan. Learn more at www.cleanenergyforaustin.org.

Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Environment Texas, Environmental Defense Fund, SEED Coalition and others endorse this plan but we need your help! Spread the word, and look forward to more easy actions as the week unfolds.

*You’d totes get a ton of karma points if you got 5 people to sign on. You’ll also get a high-five from me, which you can claim on Thursday at City Hall.

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Environment Texas is throwing a SXSW party tomorrow called: A Solar Affair: Beats and Beers for Solar Power.

Check out the flyer and blog below by Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas — hope to see you there!

In Texas, we have enough sun to power the entire state, and enough beats and beer to power Environment Texas’ unofficial SXSW party A Solar Affair: Beats and Beers for Solar Power. Friday’s party – which features music by Daedelus and a short talk by state Representative Mark Strama – comes amidst a major push for Texas to go solar. (more…)

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“Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today?” — Vladimir, Waiting for Godot

The Public Citizen Texas Week in Review (more…)

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Great joint op-ed by our friend McCall Johnson over at Environment Texas and State Rep. Rafael Anchia, winner of Public Citizen’s Legislator of the Year award.  Following on the heels of TXU’s announcement last week that it will offer customers an affordable solar leasing program, the gist of it is that we can’t let the momentum for solar wane whenever the program’s money runs out.  Sounds like Rep. Anchia may have some ideas for a legislative fix, check it out… (more…)

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This week we’re working with Environment Texas and several other activist groups in Austin and Houston to host free activist workshops and training days! 

The training is being run by The Public Interest Network and will feature sessions on:

    * the best techniques for organizing your neighbors to take action, and* the best ways to persuade your local media to cover an issue you care about.

It’s a chance to learn, share ideas and connect with other environmentally active citizens, as well as activists from other causes. 

Our own Ryan Rittenhouse and (Citizen) Sarah McDonald will be on-hand at the Austin workshop, and we hope to see you there! To register for the Austin workshop from Friday, Feb. 5, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., click here! To RSVP for the Houston training on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., click here!

**Personal note: Attending one of these Houston trainings during my senior year at Rice University was one of the ways I got my foot in the activist/media door.  The experience is definitely worth giving up a little TGIF/Saturday morning cartoon time. Hope to see you there, and if you go to Houston please let me know how your training day went!


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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SEED Coalition opposes any radioactive waste dumping in Texas, but at minimum seeks to prevent our state from receiving waste from more than just the two Compact States and becoming the nation’s radioactive waste dump. With support from Public Citizen, Environment Texas and Nuclear Information and Resource Service and other groups, they will submit comments today to the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission. The Proposed Import/Export Rule under consideration may open the door for Texas to becoming the nation’s nuclear dumping ground and we’re making recommendations to strengthen the rule and protect public health as safety .

State Rep. Lon Burnam (District 90, Ft. Worth) will ask a series of questions of the Compact Commissioners, and try to get answers as to why they are considering the weak and risky approach taken by the draft rule under consideration.

Some of SEED Coalition’s comments can be summarized as follows:

  • The site should be limited to radioactive waste from Texas and Vermont, and have volume and radioactivity caps that match the license for the facility.
  • Waste from Texas and Vermont would more than fill up the facility, and no Out of Compact Waste should be imported.
  • The proposed import/ export rule needs to be strengthened and deemed a Major Environmental rule, so that more careful analysis can be done.
  • Radionuclides must be carefully tracked and monitored. The public has a right to know what is shipped to the site and the level of radioactivity in curies.
  • The public should be informed as to health risks from various radionuclides and meetings held in accord with the Open Meetings Act

The Compact Commission meets today beginning at 9 AM in Austin, Texas in the State Capitol Auditorium, E1.004, 1400 North Congress.

Visit www.NukeFreeTexas.org to find SEED’s comments, Rep. Burnam’s questions, a NIRS factsheet and the memo by nuclear expert Dr. Arjun Makhijani.  Press release after the jump… (more…)

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Part 4. Sunny With a Chance of Economic Development: Solar Potential, the Solar Session that wasn’t, and City of Austin Solar Plant

Last spring, our minds were budding with thoughts of birds, bees, and… Texas’ solar potential (didn’t you know, a robust solar program would put Texans back to work and position the state as a world leader for solar production!) Ah, sweet romance.

First Public Citizen, Environment Texas and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club hosted a statewide round of press conferences to roll out our solar report, Texas Solar Roadmap (though I’d really recommend the abridged version, Wildcatting the Sun). It seemed like every other legislator had some incarnation of a solar bill, and folks were wondering if this was going to be the solar session. We were (and remain) especially excited about the City of Austin’s potential to become the nation’s new clean energy hub, just like it was for the semiconductor industry — and almost like an answer to our prayers, within months the Austin City Council voted in favor of a 30MW solar plant in Webberville (though not without a little nerve-racking delay).

And of course, somewhere in that busy, busy time, we found time to make an awesome solar video for Environment Texas’ solar video contest:


Too bad we just couldn’t compare to Mic SoL-O and his sweet, sweet rhymes:



By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, 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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Environmental Groups Applaud EPA Choice

New Regional Administrator could signal change in direction for polluted state

DALLAS – Environmental advocates across several states are applauding the Obama Administration’s choice of Dr. Al Armendariz to lead Region 6 of the Environmental Protection Agency, which includes Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Armendariz, an engineering professor at Southern Methodist University, has worked with diverse constituencies ranging from corporations to citizens groups and has published dozens of studies on myriad environmental issues throughout his career. His appointment garnered high praise from the environmental community.

“Our region has typically provided a haven for some of the worst polluters in the country, and has paid a steep price,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas Director for Public Citizen. “I believe the appointment of Dr. Al Armendariz signifies a new direction for Region 6.”

In an effort to make sure EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the White House chose a strong environmental leader for Region 6, about twenty prominent advocates signed on to a list of principles that they hoped would guide the appointment. Dr. Armendariz was one of two candidates the groups endorsed for the position. Their list of qualities for an ideal administrator included a commitment to environmental justice and science-based policy, minimal ties to industries regulated by EPA and a strict adherence to the President’s Executive Order on Ethics, which was intended to prevent conflicts of interest between lobbyists and government agencies.

“Al Armendariz demonstrates the kind of vision, integrity and grassroots approach to enforcing environmental law this region needs if we’re truly going to clean up our act,” said Jeffrey Jacoby, Program Director at the Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE). “He embodies the ‘Principles for Environmental Leadership and Real Change’ we believed should guide this appointment.”

Indeed, many within the environmental community see appointment of Armendariz as indicative of a new approach for the regional EPA.

“We are thrilled with Dr. Armendariz’s appointment,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “After eight years of the Bush EPA, it’s a new day for Texas’ environment. Move over polluter lobbyists, science and human health are in charge now.”

In addition to environmentalists, some within the business community were also pleased with Obama’s choice. Former Austin City Councilmember Brigid Shea, now principal and co-founder of an environmental consulting firm, stated, “As a businessperson who’s concerned about the environment, it’s time this region got someone who understands that we can have both a healthy environment and a strong economy, that the two are not at odds.”

Dr. Armendariz will take over for Acting Region 6 Administrator Larry Starfield. During his tenure, he will face a number of pressing environmental challenges, including potentially overseeing the implementation of federal climate change legislation, bringing metropolitan areas in Texas into compliance with the Clean Air Act and working to clean up toxic “hot spots” along the Gulf Coast.

“Texas needs a tough air enforcement chief at EPA 6 Dallas like Dr. Armendariz who’s willing to tackle head on the state’s serious air quality challenges with large urban areas like Dallas and Houston failing to meet new ozone standards, and who is willing to require Texas to clean up its large dirty coal plants and refineries,” stated Dr. Neil Carman of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter.

Environmental justice activists from communities across the state are also hopeful that the appointment of Dr. Armendariz will benefit Texans living directly adjacent to polluting facilities

“The Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice is a document that looks good on paper, but in the real world EPA’s office of Environmental Justice has at times sided with industry over our communities; and pollution problems in poor communities have gotten worse, not better,” said Suzie Canales, Executive Director of Corpus Christi-based Citizens for Environmental Justice. “Now under Armendariz, we have real hope that environmental justice issues will be a serious priority to the agency.”

Many environmental justice groups endorsed Armendariz from the beginning of the Regional Administrator selection process, citing his commitment to science, his understanding of the issues and his dedication to enforcing the spirit of environmental laws such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

“Dr. Armendariz is exactly the kind of person you’d want to have this job, but seemingly never gets it,” said Jim Schermbeck, long-time Field Organizer with Downwinders at Risk. “Because of what’s at stake and the fact that Texas is the belly of the polluter beast, this may be one of the most important, far-reaching appointments the Obama Administration makes. Downwinders at Risk is proud to have been the group that first utilized Dr. Armendariz’s expertise for our cause of cleaning up the Midlothian cement kilns back in 2005. That work lead directly to his becoming the premier ‘citizen’s scientist’ in Texas on air pollution, and paved the way for his much larger influence on the state scene. Congratulations to both Dr. Armendariz and the EPA.”

As enthusiastic as environmentalists are about the appointment, they also promised to hold Dr. Armendariz accountable to the people affected by pollution issues in the five-state region. “As outstanding as Dr. Armendariz has been on paper and in interviews, we’ll be watching to make sure he walks the walk,” says Jacoby, who works in TCE’s Dallas office, “Remember, Al, my office is right down the street.”

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, 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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Hey San Antonio! There will be a protest against nuclear power tomorrow at lunchtime downtown outside of City Hall.  Join us and the rest of the Energia Mia coalition and make your voice heard!  Details below.

WHAT: Protest against CPS Energy’s pursuit of more nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project. Not only is nuclear power the most expensive form of energy, it’s the most water intensive and it comes with enormous security, safety and health risks.

WHEN: Thursday, September 10th, Noon

WHERE: 114 W. Commerce, Outside of the Municipal Plaza Building, City Hall Complex

WHO: Concerned students, Members of Energia Mia and others.

Energia Mia includes members active in Southwest Workers’ Union, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Project Verde, the Alamo Group of the Sierra Club, Highland Hills and Jefferson Heights Neighborhood Associations, AGUA, the Texas Drought Project, the Green Party, San Antonio Area Progressive Action Coalition, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, Environment Texas and Clean Water Action.

WHY: Nuclear reactors come with serious health and safety risks. Exposure to radioactivity leads to cancer and genetic damage and after fifty years there is still no solution to storing radioactive waste. San Antonio needs drinking water. Vast quantities of water should not be wasted to cool nuclear reactors. Safer, more affordable energy choices exist today.

Spending billions of dollars for nuclear reactors is throwing money away that should be used for energy efficiency and renewable solar, wind and geothermal power, creating green jobs in San Antonio. Nuclear power would raise electric rates much more than other energy options, at a time when people are already struggling to pay their bills. The nuclear reactors should be halted now.

For More Information, Contact: Alice Canestaro, Energía Mía (713.480.8013) or Amanda Hoss, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center (210.228.0201)

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Environmental Groups See Clean Energy Groundwork Laid for the Future

(Austin) Senate and House members from both political parties showed unprecedented support for developing more renewable energy and energy efficiency in Texas by filing a large number of clean power, green jobs bills in the 81st Texas State Legislature. A number of major bills passed either the House or the Senate. Ultimately, political disagreements over other issues and over the size and extent of the programs delayed and killed most of these excellent legislative initiatives.

Environmental groups Sierra Club, SEED, Public Citizen, Environmental Defense Fund, and Environment Texas applaud the passage of some clean energy, green jobs legislation and view the Legislature as having laid ample groundwork for the future.

“The fact that both the House and the Senate passed major legislation on energy efficiency and renewable power with bipartisan agreement shows that Texas leaders are willing and able to develop clean power and green jobs for our state,” noted Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Nevertheless, leaders were distracted by undue influence from industry interests and by the Voter ID debate which hampered passage of clean energy bills and other more vital areas of legislation.”

“Texas is moving more slowly than a melting glacier toward developing global warming policy. Rather than implementing already available energy efficiency and distributed energy solutions, Texas’ response to global warming is to develop futuristic industrial-sized solutions. As a result the state has legislation pending that may develop standards for large scale carbon sequestration projects and provide incentives to get companies to develop the technologies,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “On the positive side, the state has passed a study to develop a series of ‘no regrets’ solutions to global warming that the State can achieve at no cost. Also, the Texas House, especially the House Committee on Environmental Regulation, should be applauded for their more open leadership style this session which lead to far more reasoned and less ideological bills being developed in the committee.”

Clean Power, Green Energy Bills that passed both bodies and will go to the Governor (as this release goes to press):

  • Green fleets legislation to promote low emissions and plug-in hybrid vehicles for fleets of major State Agencies (HB 432);
  • Legislation allowing cities to create financial districts to loan money for renewable power and energy efficiency (HB 1937).
  • Legislation setting a ‘no regrets’ strategy for greenhouse gas reduction in the State; a study of the state’s energy use to find ways to reduce our emissions and save money at the same time (SB 184)
  • A coordinated green jobs strategy including funds allocated for child care programs, vocational training initiatives, energy efficiency measures, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), and/or any other recovery funds (passed as a Rider to Article 12).
  • Green fee bill passed allowing governing board of public colleges and universities to institute an environmental service fee once approved by student body election.

“This has been a disappointing session,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “However, with the passage of HB 1937, we can start the ball rolling on developing Texas’ solar future, working with local communities one at a time to start financing solar and energy efficiency projects.”

Groundwork Laid for Next Session

The major Clean Power, Green Jobs bills that passed the House or Senate but did not ultimately make it to the Governor’s Desk include:

  • Raising the state’s minimum residential and commercial building codes from 2001 to 2009 standards (passed Senate as SB 16 and HB 2783 in House);
  • Raising the utility efficiency goal (SB 546 passed both houses but no agreement was reached between Senator Fraser and Representative Anchia on the size of the goals)
  • Adopting appliance efficiency standards for a variety of products, including pool pumps (passed Senate as SB 16)
  • Creating a 1,500 MW Emerging Technology Renewable Standard (SB 541 – passed the Senate)
  • Creating a $500 million solar incentive program (SB 545 – passed the Senate).
  • Creating a Policy requiring utilities and retail electric providers to pay consumers fair buyback rates for excess electricity generation from renewable energy (HB 1243 – passed House and Senate, but was killed in the House through concerns over germaneness and Senate amendments.);
  • High performance energy efficiency building standards for state buildings, including universities and public schools (HB 431). The Senate may pass the conference committee report today, on Sine Die.

Factors which prevented bills with bipartisan support from making it across the finish line:

  • The issue of Voter ID, which put many major efficiency and renewable bills too far down the calendar for consideration in the House;
  • A disagreement over the germaneness and concern over the possible costs to low-income residents of adding the solar incentive bill (SB 545) to the surplus electricity bill (HB 1234), which led Representative Turner to ultimately kill consideration of the bill on the House floor;
  • The election of a new Speaker and the naming of new Committee Chairman understandable led to some delays in getting the committees up and running to begin to consider bills;
  • Disagreement between House and Senate on size and scope of goals set by solar and energy efficiency bills (SB 545 & 546);
  • Disagreement over the potential costs and benefits of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (SB 541);
  • Opposition from the Texas Manufacturers Association, the Governor and many utilities against the Renewable Portfolio Standard.

“We were happy to find some new allies this session including certain members of the legislature and some electric utilities that said they supported renewable energy and energy efficiency legislation,” said Jim Marston, Director of Texas Regional Office of Environmental Defense Fund. “Sadly, some of the electric companies talked a good game, but their support evaporated when opposed by their affiliated retail electric providers or others in the industry. In the end, the Association of Electric Companies of Texas reverted to representing the interests of the regressive elements of their membership harming the ability of Texas to participate successfully in the new energy economy.”

“Moreover, the Texas Association of Manufacturers (TAM) while acknowledging that an expanded renewable portfolio standard was the way to bring clean technology jobs to Texas, distributed false cost information about solar legislation that was repudiated by the PUC and others. The bottom line, TAM fought legislation that would have brought new manufacturing jobs to Texas,” said Marston.

Nuclear Bills Blocked

Environmental groups blocked bad bills that would have removed citizen rights to contest permits and would have promoted nuclear power in the State which many view as a financial drain from investment in truly clean energy.

“Nuclear power is expensive, consumes vast quantities of water, comes with serious security and health risks and creates radioactive waste, for which there is no good storage solution. We were happy to block two bad bills this session that were designed to benefit proposed nuclear reactors in Texas,” said Karen Hadden, Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition.

The nuclear bills that were blocked:

  • Fast tracked water permits for nuclear power plants and cut out contested case hearings (HB 2721 was left pending in House Environmental Regulation Committee)
  • Subsidies for proposed nuclear power plants in the form of tax rebates (HB 4525 passed the House and was blocked in the Senate.)

“Representative Flynn’s bill would have fast-tracked water permits for nuclear plants, an outrageous attempt in a time of statewide drought,” said Hadden. “It would also have denied citizens an opportunity to contest issuance of the permits through hearings, an assault on democratic process. The other bad bill that we defeated would have given massive subsidies to nuclear power in the form of tax rebates.”


  • A good bill to address the Compact Loophole for the Andrews County Low-Level Radioactive Waste Dump bill, HB 3423 Lon Burnam did not get out of Committee.
  • Environmental groups blocked a bad provision that would have fast tracked water permits for “clean coal” plants in the final version of HB 469 and added cleaner emissions standards for those plants.
  • HB 821 passed, requiring television manufacturers that sell televisions in Texas to make free and convenient recycling available. Texas Campaign for the Environment successfully advocated for this bill.
  • Sen. Ellis used a threatened filibuster last night to kill HB 3827 which would have allowed oil companies to evade liability for MTBE water contamination;
  • SB 2169 Sets up an interagency working group, co-chaired by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Department of Transportation with other agencies to discuss smart growth and make recommendations for developing the state in a sustainable way.
  • An amendment to HB 300 creates a certification program for environmental coordinators in Texas Department of Transportation district offices. This bill is still in conference committee as this release goes to press.

“As it concludes, environmentalists can view this legislative session with some hopefulness – the Legislature is definitely involved and interested in clean energy and green jobs and did move these issues forward. But there is also some sadness – an opportunity to move significantly forward on clean energy was lost,” Cyrus Reed added. “Jobs that could have been created, and new sources of clean energy that could have been advanced in Texas were delayed this Session.”

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wewonLast night at 11:58 pm (wink, wink), just as we suspected would happen, the Texas Senate unanimously passed through the net metering bill, HB 1243, with solar SB 545 amended on as a bonus.  This is great news for Texas consumers, the environment, and solar power.

As you may recall, HB 1243 will ensure that owners of solar installations, small wind turbines, or biogas generators get paid a fair price for the excess power they produce.  SB 545 — which after the Voter ID slowdown, we thought was dead — increases incentives for distributed solar power generation by creating a pool of $500 million in solar rebates over the next 5 years.  It also calls for a pilot program with a minimum funding of $4 million to put solar on schools (nudge: the State Energy Conservation Office could potentially spend considerably more of their pending stimulus funds to further these projects) and will create thousands of green, local jobs across the state of Texas.

Another amendment to the bill added on SB 2349.  This provision would allow oil wells that create natural gas, but not enough to justify paying for collection, to build a generator to run the gas through, make electricity, and sell it back into the grid.  The bill would limit production to 2 MW so that they can provide distributed generation.  As of right now, they’re just flaring that gas off, so this is definitely a good thing.

According to our friends at Environment Texas (via the Houston Chronicle’s NewsWatch: Energy blog), the amended HB 1243 also

• Requires home builders to offer solar as a standard option in developments with 50 homes or more.

• Prevents homeowners associations from blocking solar panel installations

• Allows up to 70% of incentive funds to be used for utility-scale solar projects

• Allows the Public Utility Commission to extend the program for an additional five years and another $500 million if it determined that a “substantial” amount of manufacturing of solar generation products located in Texas after the initial five-year program

• Requires electric co-ops to allow consumers to interconnect solar to the grid

• Clarifies that consumers will not have to register as a utility and that third party ownership of solar is allowed

• For the next two years, requires retail electric providers to pay at least five cents per kilowatt hour for surplus solar and four cents for other renewable technologies and directs the PUC to determine a fair market price that will become a new “floor” following the two years

• Creates a “Made in Texas” program to certify and encourage Texans to buy locally manufactured solar panels and other energy products.  As a result, locally produced products qualify for a 20% larger rebate than imports.

Now that HB 1243 has successfully passed through both chambers of the legislature, we’ve just got to wait and see what comes out of conference committee, where bill authors from both sides will smooth out the differences between their bills.  Many thanks to all of you that wrote e-mails and made phone calls in support of these bills.  This is a tremendous victory for Texas solar.  Keep your fingers crossed that we can send this bill to Governor Perry’s desk!

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Sun MoneyThanks to Luke Metzger at the Environment Texas blog for this take on pending net metering legislation (read: making sure folks with solar panels get paid back for the excess energy they produce):

On Monday, the Texas House will decide whether to promote solar energy by requiring utilities to pay consumers fair prices for surplus solar power or to codify anti-consumer practices in order to benefit big utilities like TXU. Here’s the story.

Sick of riding the rollercoaster of high electric rates and concerned over pollution and dependence on foreign oil, many Texans are turning to solar power to get more choices than their electric company provides. More than 40 states help consumers do this by requiring electric companies to pay a fair price for the surplus electricity solar panels put back on the grid (known as net metering). In return, the electric grid benefits from a supply of pollution-free electricity during peak-demand time periods, such as hot summer afternoons, avoiding congestion costs and dampening real-time on-peak wholesale energy prices. The more renewable generation that is located at customer’s houses and businesses, the less will need to be charged in the future to all customers’ electric bills for wires, fuel and pollution costs. Incentivizing solar will also help create jobs and attract manufacturers to the state.

In addition to consumer rebates and tax credits, net metering is a key financial driver making solar power a cost-effective investment for consumers. Texas had such a policy in place in the 1980s, but with the restructuring of the electric market, old definitions of electric utilities no longer applied and net metering was inadvertently ended. (more…)

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I’m going to cross-post the following article from the Texas Observer’s Floor Pass blog whole hog, because it is just that good.  Look for Smitty’s quote in bold, and hold on to your hat 🙂

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Chosen Ones

posted by Susan Peterson at 03:12 PM

There’s a lot to celebrate this Earth Day when it comes to the Texas Legislature. Republicans in both chambers are carrying environmental legislation – if for no other reason than to stick it to the feds before the feds, under President Obama and a Democratic Congress, begin regulating the environment themselves. And Speaker Joe Straus has been a boon to environmental bills, as well, since he’s actually letting the legislators run the show in the House, unlike his predecessor.

The upshot? More good environmental bills and fewer bad ones.

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, says there are just two main bad bills this session. Both would both speed up the permitting process for power plants. Rep. Dan Flynn’s HB 2721, which is being heard today in Environmental Regulation, would speed it up for nuclear plants. The other bad bill, Rep. Randy Weber’s HB 4012, would fast-track permitting for coal power plants.

And I know it’s unlike us to report good news, but Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen in Texas, says he is “suffering from a crisis of abundance” when it comes to all the worthwhile environmental bills this session.

“There are more good bills in the lege session than I can keep up with,” Smitty says. “It is reminiscent of the 1991 legislative session when Ann Richards was elected and there was a wave of reform. This is the best session I’ve had in 18 years.”

Hot damn!

But which of these good bills actually have a chance? Read about them after the jump.


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Texas solar is all kinds of famous.  Whether it is in print papers, the New York Times green blog, classified ads, the nightly news, Mic SoL-o’s sweet rhymes, or Public Citizen staffers with too much time on their hands and a taste for the spotlight… solar is all over the place!

But wait, there’s more.  Along with Environmental Defense Fund and Environment Texas, we’ve just launched an ad campaign aimed at getting the Texas Legislature to support measures to make Texas a world solar leader. The commercials will run for a week in the Abilene, Dallas/Fort Worth, Tyler/Longview, and Wichita Falls viewing areas and call on the Legislature to support incentives to install solar panels on the equivalent of a half-million Texas rooftops by 2020.

Check it:


So far more than 80 bills have been filed by a bi-partisan group of legislators to promote solar power and other renewable energy technologies, including:

  • SB 545 (Fraser), which creates a statewide rebate program which would fund the installation of up to 500 megawatts of solar by 2015.  SB 5454 has passed the Senate Business and Commerce committee and is expected to be voted on by the full Senate next week.
  • SB 541 (Watson), which requires the development of 3000 megawatts of solar, geothermal and biomass energy by 2020.  SB 541 is pending in the Senate Business and Commerce committee.
  • HB 3405 (Swinford), which creates a statewide rebate program that would fund the installation of 3000 megawatts of solar by 2020.  HB 3405 is pending in the House Energy Resources committee.

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