Posts Tagged ‘solar’

According to a press release from ERCOT, Texas posted a 30 percent increase in energy from renewable sources in 2010 with voluntary participation in renewable energy credits up 45 percent

Below is ERCOT’s press release:  

MAY 13, 2011, AUSTIN – Texas posted a 30 percent increase in energy generated by renewable sources in 2010, according to the state’s renewable energy credits registry administered by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), grid operator for most of the state. 

The renewable energy recorded in the state’s renewable energy credit program was 28 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2010, compared to 21.6 million MWh in 2009 – a 30 percent increase – as reported in the Texas renewable energy credit program annual report, filed today at the Public Utility Commission.

Wind generation represented the largest share at 26.8 million MWh.  Solar energy increased the most, by percentage, going from 4,492 to 14,449 MWh.




2010 (MWhs)

2009 (MWhs)

Increase (%)









Landfill gas
















Competitive retail electric providers must annually acquire and retire renewable energy credits based on their load-ratio share of the state’s renewable portfolio standard mandate.  Any electric provider may voluntarily retire renewable energy credits to substantiate “green energy” claims. 

A renewable energy credit (REC) is a tradable instrument that represents one megawatt-hour of renewable energy produced. 

For the third consecutive year, the RECs retired in the voluntary market exceeded the mandatory retirements:

  • 11.83 million RECs were retired in the voluntary market – a 45 percent increase over 2009’s record of 8.94 million;
  • 9 million RECs were retired by the state’s 168 competitive retail electricity providers in compliance with the state renewable portfolio standard;
  • 20.86 million total RECs were retired in 2010 compared to 15.7 million in 2009 and 13.5 million in 2008.



2010 (millions)

2009 (millions)

2008 (millions)

Retired for mandate




Voluntary retirements








Since 2008, the program has also awarded compliance premiums in conjunction with a REC that is generated by a non-wind renewable energy source.  For the purpose of the renewable portfolio standard requirements, one compliance premium is equal to one REC.  Last year, 11 companies were awarded a total of 275,910 compliance premiums, representing






Number of companies




Compliance premiums awarded




The Texas Legislature established the renewable portfolio standard as part of the restructuring of the state’s electricity market in 1999 to increase incentives for renewable energy production.  The Texas Public Utility Commission implemented the renewable energy credit program in 2001 and established ERCOT as the administrator. 

The program currently includes 107 generation accounts representing a total of 10,515 MW of new renewable generation added in Texas since 1999.  (An additional 298 MW registered in the program is from six renewable generation resources that were in service prior to September 1999 for a total of 10,813 MW.)  Texas exceeded 10,000 MW of renewable capacity last year, which achieved the Texas Legislature’s goal of 10,000 MW of renewable generation by 2025 – 15 years early.


FuelType 2010 (MWs) 2009 (MWs) 2008 (MWs)
Biomass 108 40 37
Hydro 33 33 33
Landfill gas 88 80 72
Solar 21 1 1
Wind 10,265 9,915 8,158
Total 10,515 10,069 8,301

Does not include generation in service prior to September 1999.

The megawatts of capacity reported in the REC annual report may not align with total renewable resources registered in ERCOT planning reports and other reporting agencies because it includes renewable generation throughout Texas, not just ERCOT. In addition, the program is voluntary and only tracks renewable resource generation registered in the program.


Renewable Energy Credit Program – Annual Report, 2010

Texas Renewable Energy Credit Program website

PUCT Substantive Rule 25.173: Goal for Renewable Energy

ERCOT Protocols, Section 14: State of Texas Renewable Energy Credit Trading Program

Read Full Post »

The House Business and Industry Committee will meet next Monday and one of the bills that they will be taking testimony on is HB 450 filed by Representative Eddie Lucio, III (D-San Benito) that addresses the regulation of solar energy devices by a property owners’ association.  If you are a homeowner who wants solar but your HOA rules prohibit the installation of solar panels, and you live in the district of one of the committee members, you might want to call your representative and let them know that you support this bill. 

Feeling really passionate about this and plan on being in Austin next Monday – stop by the capitol after 2pm, go to the hearing room-E2.016 and sign up to testify for this bill.

Below is a list of the House Business and Industry committee members and their capitol office phone numbers.

House Business and Industry

Read Full Post »

A California utility, Southern California Edison, has selected 250 MW worth of solar bids from companies able to produce solar electricity for 20 years for less money annually than the 20 year levelized cost of combined-cycle natural gas turbine power plant energy.

The utilities bidding process for smaller renewable projects is a smart move. These small projects do not face the multi-year bureaucratic delays for extensive reviews, like most utility-scale solar in California, so each small unit can be built as quickly as normal commercial rooftop solar projects. They are made up of multiple distributed solar installations of under 20 MW, which in combination total a power plant-sized 250 MW.

The utility already gets more than 19% of its electricity from renewable sources, placing it in the lead to reach California’s Renewable Energy Standard requirement to get 20% of its electricity from renewables (which specifically excludes large hydro and nuclear) by 2013.

Using a bidding process, SCE has made renewable energy companies compete to offer the lowest price for supplying electricity through its Renewable Standard Contract, which has a requirement that the renewable energy be priced to cost no more than the Market Price Referent (MPR) – an annual calculation of the 20 year levelized cost of energy of a combined cycle gas turbine.

SCE says that they received over 2.5 GW – 2,500 MW – of offers from solar companies eager to supply solar power for less than the cost of gas which at this time is in the 11 cent range. 

This year, the solar bids are below the MPR, meaning that they cost less than the annual cost of getting the same amount of electricity from natural gas over the same time period.

For California, a renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) is keeping prices down for consumers.  A non-wind RPS in Texas could do the same for this state, and give solar the boost that the 2005 RPS gave the wind energy industry in Texas, taking the state from a few hundred MW of wind to 10,000 MW in just a few short years.


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.

Read Full Post »

For the last few months people who wanted to install solar systems in the Oncore service area have been disappointed as they have been told that the incentive funds are all reserved.

It turns out there is another pool of funds available that has been harder to find. The Oncore website lists all the solar incentive funds as being reserved, but that refers to a batch a funds that was made available as part of the Oncore sale settlement of a few years ago.

There is another source of funds that have not been drawn down and are not easily found on the website, the incentive amount per installed watt is smaller than the settlement fund, but cash of any amount helps the balance sheet and gets that sweet solar solution installed on your roof.

For commercial projects in the Oncore service area give John Hanel a call at 214-486-5886

For residential projects in the Oncore service area the person to contact is Carl Brown 214-486-3244

Read Full Post »

Dean Kamen is known for his many inventions, some of which have transformed the world, from the insulin pump and an all-terrain wheelchair to portable water purification systems and robotic prosthetic limbs. Of course, others, like his Segway self-balancing electric scooter (which visitors to the Texas capitol will see whizzing past with curious sightseers holding on for dear life), became more of a pop-culture phenomenon than a major boost to his pocketbook.Austin capitol segway tourists

His love for science, technology, engineering and innovating has made him wealthy and in 1986, Kamen bought a tiny, 2-acre private island off the coast of Connecticut in Long Island Sound, where he began bumping heads with the local authorities from the town of Southold, N.Y., which has jurisdiction over the island, when he wanted to put up a wind turbine.  Like our Governor Perry, he made noises about seceding, but eventually did receive his variance to build his personal wind turbine. That turbine, coupled with the use of solar panels, provides the island with all its power. He replaced all the island’s lighting with LEDs, which cut down his in-house energy consumption by 70 percent, thus creating the most carbon-neutral kingdom (his pseudo island nation kingdom) on the planet — “carbon-negative,” in fact.

Kamen’s methods may sometimes seem childish and self-serving, but he claims to use mirth to attract attention to what he considers his most important work: inspiring others to think outside the box in developing new ways to live better lives and he hopes to inspire young people to follow his lead in seeking out innovation so that they, too, can become island rulers — or at least the masters of their fates.

Let’s hope that he does inspire people in this country to innovate and they can lead us into a new energy future.


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.

Read Full Post »

A recent poll shows that voters are more inclined to vote for a candidate that voted for the Federal climate change and renewable energy legislation than for those who didn’t. This is interesting in a time in which many conservative groups are advocating that climate change is a hoax and humans don’t need to intervene to save the planet.  Or, that (even worse) voters just know.. they just KNOW that policies like cap and trade are just a hidden energy tax and they won’t tolerate it at the ballot box.

This poll should be eye-opening to many of the Texas local and federal candidates (and it is worth noting that both of the competitive US House races in Texas are ones where the incumbent voted NO on the American Clean Energy and Security Act). Even more surprising, very few candidates campaign on clean energy in a state where energy makes a great deal of the revenue. And despite how much the governor boasts about Texas leading in renewable energy, Texas is falling behind to a couple of other states, notably California.

Although it seems a scarce phenomenon, a few Texas candidates have climate change and clean energy as part of their campaign. We wanted to highlight the campaigns of a couple of these candidates. *

Last month, Bill White, gubernatorial candidate, announced his energy plan and he explicitly said that clean energy (solar in particular) will be the future of Texas.

Texas can remain the energy capital of the world if we lead in new energy development. That’s why we must educate Texans for high-demand, high-paying clean energy jobs, promote job growth in construction and manufacturing, and invest in science and technology research,” said Bill White in a speech in Lubbock last month.

Mark Strama,  who is running for re-election for his seat in the Texas House of Representatives, has been airing a campaign ad where he says “For the past hundred years, Texas has prospered as the leader of energy, but promising new energy technologies are being developed in other states and other countries.” Strama, who chairs the Technology, Economic Development & Workforce Committee, introduced a couple of green bills in the last legislative session and it looks like he will continue this effort during the forthcoming session. Yesterday, he facebooked about “a promising development” of a Bastrop clean energy park.

On the Congressional level, Representative Charlie Gonzalez includes clean energy and climate change on his legislative agenda. According to his website, in order to “address threats faced to our country and our planet by climate change, America needs an energy policy that relies on resources that are both clean and efficient.” Gonzalez points out that the issue of climate change is tied to the nation’s energy policy.
Texas needs more politicians to come out for renewable energy and those who tell their constituents that it doesn’t create more jobs and revenue for the state, they are simply ignoring the facts facts. According to a recent report, a robust renewable energy market in Texas can create as many as 23,000 jobs and almost 3 billion in revenue every year for the next 10 years. Strama is right, Texas does have a future in renewables and it is time for Texas politicians to “put solutions above ideology and Texas above politics.”

* Public Citizen does not endorse any political candidate and/or party. Nothing in this opinion blog ought to be construed as an endorsement of any kind. The author’s words are his own.


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.

Read Full Post »


Tyson Slocum



The following is a statement by Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program


As the White House finally rights a wrong and installs solar panels to heat and energize the East Wing, the Obama administration will have to determine if the installation is merely a symbolic gesture or a signal of robust leadership on climate and energy policy. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Finally, energy is now moving to the center of the debate in the governor race. Bill White announced yesterday his energy plan. For a while, the democratic candidate’s position on energy was a bit blurry but yesterday White set the record straight. He is in for green energy.

While the current governor has wasted state resources on fighting the EPA and the Federal government on behalf of big business, White thinks the state should focus more on green energy, especially from solar. White said that just like Texas had a good experience with wind energy in the past decade, it can exceed in the field of solar energy.

White emphasizes that green energy can create many jobs and help boost the Texas economy. The jobs can range from construction,  and panel installation, research, to jobs in education and training and maintenance jobs so even in the long run, there will be jobs.

Texas can remain the energy capital of the world if we lead in new energy development. That’s why we must educate Texans for high-demand, high-paying clean energy jobs, promote job growth in construction and manufacturing, and invest in science and technology research,” said Bill White, yesterday in Lubbock.

In addition to promoting renewable energy, White outlined a plan to establish a residential energy efficiency program and another to retrofit government buildings to be more energy-conservative. The democratic candidates also encouraged Texans to be conservative with their use of energy, “Texans know that the cheapest kilowatt of power is the one you don’t use. Texas families and businesses, as well as the government, can save money with energy efficiency measures,”

We believe investing in green energy will not only enhance the quality of our environment, it will bring more money into our economy, and it will create more jobs for Texans.  Sounds like we have one candidate with an energy plan.  Governor Perry, yours please?


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.

Read Full Post »

In Michael Webber’s Op Ed in the Sunday, March 21st Austin-American Statesman, he beautifully explained why solar is now ready to become the next big energy source, but was shy on steps that the Texas legislature or our local public utilities could take to reduce energy costs while creating a local solar manufacturing boom.

We can do the same thing for solar that we did for wind.  Set a modest statewide goal, say – 5,000 MW by 2025, and require every utility to buy some solar so they can get used to it.

When the sun is the hottest is when solar makes the most energy, during the summer in Texas that is also when our peak demand for electricity occurs. Meeting peak demand is often 3-4 times more expensive than the average cost of power. If small solar energy owners were paid market price for the energy they produce on peak you’d see solar everywhere.

Solar incentive programs work. Austin and TXU have had programs like this that pay about 30% of the cost and have been sold out. This program has kick started local industries and attracts installers and manufacturers.

Solar can cut costs and pollution (the amount of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere per unit of energy produced is 500 times less than coal), but the industry needs a little push. If the state of Texas and local utilities adopt all three of these goals, we’ll be on the way to a solar boom.


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.

Read Full Post »

The University of Texas at San Antonio and St. Philip’s College will both soon be getting solar arrays, thanks to the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) and federal stimulus programs.

UTSA will get a 52 kilowatts of generating capacity with its $1.3 million grant, and St. Phillip’s will receive a $2 million grant in order to install 400kW of solar capacity. These two projects will triple San Antonio’s solar capacity, save the schools millions in energy costs, and will serve as a laboratory for green jobs training and workforce development.

Says St. Phillips College President Dr. Williams Loston,

This grant represents a tremendous opportunity for St. Philip’s College.  It will produce energy for the college, and it will enhance our standing as an area leader in workforce education. Most importantly, we will engage our community in a component of our education.


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.

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

Austin Community College is having a free information session on their Women In Solar class, a women-focused solar installation course being offered this spring and summer. Check it out, but register today — its the deadline for Saturday’s session!

Learn more:

“Women in Green Jobs” Solar Training Information Session

The registration deadline for this event is 3/5/2010

Start Date: 3/6/2010 Start Time: 10:00 AM

End Date: 3/6/2010 End Time: 12:00 PM

Event Description

Attend this free 2-hour information session and learn why the jobs of the future will be in “green technology” and why women will play a key role in this future. This session will provide specific information on upcoming women-focused solar installation course sections as well as provide insight into all of the “green” related course offerings that ACC has to offer from a women’s perspective.

Location Information:

Riverside Campus – Riverside Campus (View Map)
1020 Grove Blvd.
Austin, TX 78741
Phone: 512.223.6201

Contact Information:
Name: Women in Green Jobs Hotline
Phone: 512-223-7520
Email: [email protected]


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.

Read Full Post »

For those of you following our work organizing citizens in the Bay City area against the proposed White Stallion coal plant, there is a new chapter to add to the saga. You may remember that we were down there recently speaking with rice farmers concerned about the plant’s potential (huge!) water use. Turns out not everyone in the county was happy with this turn of events, especially Judge Nate McDonald, who thinks the project will be “great” for the county and the state of Texas.

Clearly, we’re going to have to part ways on that one. Judge McDonald fired the first shot with an op-ed in the Bay City Tribune, but the paper gave us a forum to respond. You’ll find our answer below, and can find the rice farmer’s response here.

No such thing as ‘clean coal’

by Tom “Smitty” Smith

Recently, County Judge Nate McDonald expressed his concerns that rice famers met with Public Citizen, a national consumer and environmental group, to discuss the negative impacts of the proposed White Stallion coal plant, particularly the amount of water the plant will use. Unfortunately, he got his facts wrong about both the plant and our organization.

The judge says he welcomes development and that his requirement for White Stallion is “that it be the cleanest coal plant there is and do no harm to our environment and air quality,” but the facts show that this plant is not the “cleanest coal plant there is” and will do substantial harm.

There is no such thing as “clean coal.” Even if there were, White Stallion would certainly not qualify.

This coal plant would be, by far, the largest source of pollution in Matagorda County. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Tonight, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell will host a town hall meeting on an energy plan for Austin Energy that would establish our own carbon dioxide cap and reduction plan. The great news is that by 2020, Austin’s investments in solar, wind and energy efficiency would allow us to reduce our dependence on the Fayette coal plant by 30 percent! The town hall meeting is our opportunity to show widespread public support for the plan.

Please attend the mayor’s town hall meeting at 6 p.m. TONIGHT, Monday, Feb. 22, at the Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd.

Public Citizen will have a table outside the auditorium where we will gather signatures for the Clean Energy for Austin coalition. Working with other environmental organizations, we’ve gained the support of more than 70 businesses, 18 nonprofits and over 200 individuals, who are calling on the City Council to pass the clean energy plan. But we need you to come to this town hall and show your support.

This is your opportunity to ask questions, learn more and have your input heard by our mayor. In addition, city officials will be asking questions of the audience, so you can tell the mayor and City Council that you want a clean energy future for our town.

So please endorse Clean Energy for Austin, and come to the meeting Monday night. We hope to see you there!


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.

Read Full Post »

Photo Courtesy of Donna Hoffman at the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. Thanks Donna!

Dozens of businesses and nonprofit organizations as well as more than 200 citizens have formed Clean Energy for Austin, a coalition whose purpose is to push Austin City Council to adopt a clean energy plan. Specifically, the coalition supports the passage of Austin Energy’s Resource and Climate Protection Plan and recommendations of a city task force created to examine the plan. Coalition members support the plan because of its emphasis on renewable energy and efficiency, green jobs creation and careful consideration of Austin’s low-income residents.

To date, more than 70 businesses, 18 non-profit organizations and more than 200 individuals have signed on in support of the energy plan through www.cleanenergyforaustin.org.

The energy plan is a road map for how Austin Energy, the city-owned electric utility, will meet the city’s energy needs over the next 10 years. It includes a substantial investment in energy efficiency and a variety of renewable energy resources like wind and solar, as well as new more efficient natural gas plants. In addition to diversifying its generation portfolio, Austin Energy wants to create a self-sustaining market for renewable technologies like solar rooftops and parking lots by 2020.

“A good business practice is to keep your options open when selecting suppliers,” said Steve Taylor of Applied Materials, a semiconductor manufacturer employing more than a thousand Austinites. “This plan allows for a diversity of different energy options, so it protects businesses – and residents – from long-term price spikes for any single power source because other energy supply options will be available and abundant. This plan also enhances Austin’s efforts to create green businesses and green jobs for years to come.”

The plan is the culmination of a nearly two-year public process of gathering input from multiple stakeholder groups, including businesses, environmental organizations, and groups serving low-income communities. Four representatives from the mayor’s Generation and Resource Planning Task Force, which analyzed more than a dozen scenarios of where Austin could get its power by 2020, are members of the coalition: Phillip Schmandt, chairman of Electric Utility Commission, Cary Ferchill, chair of Solar Austin, as well as non-profit members Public Citizen and Sierra Club.

“The great thing about the plan is its flexibility,” said Matthew Johnson, clean energy advocate with Public Citizen. “If costs for any resource type rise or fall dramatically over the next 10 years, Austin Energy would have the ability to change the plan, and do so with the help of community stakeholders. That’s the beauty of a diverse portfolio of resources. If Austin were locked into building a new coal or nuclear plant, our fate would be sealed.”

Energy efficiency, generally recognized as the cheapest energy resource, would be the main component of the plan. Austin Energy would take a more proactive and coordinated approach to reach low-income households with free weatherization to help lower their electric bills.

“Low-income communities need the most help with paying utility bills,” said Sunshine Mathon, design and development director of Foundation Communities, an Austin-based nonprofit affordable housing organization. “Austin has a long track record of having the lowest bills in Texas because of its commitment to conservation programs that help people lower their bills. My hope is that with the passage of this plan, those programs will not only expand but coordinate with other programs like bill assistance, neighborhood housing and community development.”

Coalition representatives also said that the plan reduces financial risk associated with overreliance on fossil fuels. The plan would enable Austin Energy to ramp down the Fayette coal plant more often, protecting the utility from pending carbon regulation.

“Whether or not you support greenhouse gas regulation, reducing the amount of carbon emissions that Austin is responsible for makes economic sense,” Johnson said. “That’s in addition to the improvements in air quality Austin and the surrounding region would experience. It’s a win-win.”

Austin’s City Council could vote on the plan in March, according to Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. He has scheduled a Feb. 22 town hall meeting on Austin Energy’s Resource and Climate Protection Plan. Coalition members urge the public to visit www.cleanenergyforaustin.org and sign on as well as attend the town hall meeting to show their support.


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.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »