Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘troy fraser’

Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay)

Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay)

Senate Natural Resources Committee Chairman Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) said he expects to act on legislation (Senate Bill 527) that would allow the state to tap into funds from the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan to pay for air monitoring activities near natural gas drilling operations.  North Texas Senate Republicans Chris Harris, Craig Estes, Jane Nelson and Florence Shapiro along with Democrat Royce West have signed on as co-authors.

Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth)

Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth)

Late last year, Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) filed a bill (Senate Bill 102) that would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to tap TERP funds to “conduct short-term and long-term air quality monitoring” to gauge the levels of such pollutants as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds near various natural gas operations in the Barnett.

Read Full Post »

John Carona, republican senator from Dallas and chair of the Senate Business and Commerce committee (one of the two Senate committees that jointly heard testimony on the rolling blackouts earlier this week) told the Dallas Morning news that he doesn’t think the Legislature needs to inact any new laws to prevent another day of rolling outages.

On the other hand, the chair of the Senate Natural Resources committee, Troy Fraser, republican senator from Horseshoe Bay, is making plans for legislation.

Check out the blog by Dallas Morning News reporter, Elizabeth Souder by clicking here.

Read Full Post »

Logo for PEC

Rep. Patrick Rose this morning had an opinion piece printed regarding transparency reforms at the  Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) , echoing similar criticism from the Austin American Statesman last week.  I’m not saying I agree with every word Rep. Rose wrote here in this morning’s San Marcos Local News, but this shows that this will likely be an issue in the upcoming Legislative Session.  As a bit of history, Rep. Rose (D-Dripping Springs) and Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), both of whom are members of the co-op, tried to pass a bill to increase transparency at PEC last session, but that ultimately failed when, as with so many other issues, it got killed by Voter ID.

As an aside and for full transparency’s (ha!) sake, Rep. Rose is also my State Representative and I have to give him a big hat tip for the work he has done in working to reform the PEC, as that work directly affects the electric bills my family and neighbors pay every month.

Commentary
By PATRICK ROSE
District 45 State Representative

Rep. Patrick Rose by the river

Our three-county district is served entirely by electric co-ops and municipally owned systems. I believe that public power has served our area well and kept costs lower than other energy providers across the state. As we continue our efforts to protect and grow jobs in our region, energy affordability is key. This is one of the many reasons why I am committed to a strong and transparent Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC).

On Monday, Senator Troy Fraser (R-Marble Falls) and I spoke at the August meeting of the PEC board of directors. I appreciate every opportunity to meet with the board and co-op members about our reform efforts.

My remarks were focused on my strong disapproval of the board’s latest mistake that cost co-op members $1 million, firing its general manager days before the election of two new board members. In June, PEC seated its first ever 100 percent democratically elected board. This decision could have and should have waited until the new board members, duly elected by the members, were sworn in.

The two outgoing directors were part of the legacy board that allowed for and participated in the mismanagement and corruption at PEC that was brought to light over the last few years. They should not have been part of any decision that impacts the future of PEC. At the meeting, I repeatedly asked Larry Landaker, PEC’s board president, to explain why he and two other board members joined forces with the last two legacy members. He could not answer the question, and furthermore, he admitted that the board did not have cause for the firing, thus costing co-op members $1 million.

These actions are unacceptable and show the irresponsibility and lack of transparency that justify legislation. What co-op members can count on, regardless of the makeup of the PEC board or who is general manager, is that Sen. Fraser and I are committed to transparency and openness at our cooperative. The legislature will reconvene in January and we will proceed with our effort to statutorily protect members’ rights. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Public Citizen, Environmental Defense Fund Call for Independent State Agency to Coordinate State’s Energy Efficiency Efforts

AUSTIN – In response to the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) planned adoption of new energy efficiency goals, Public Citizen and Environmental Defense Fund today called for sweeping changes to the way Texas runs its energy efficiency programs. The groups said that a single independent state agency would better serve Texas because it could coordinate programs currently regulated by multiple agencies and reduce agency overlap.

“We have no confidence in the Public Utility Commission process,” said David Power, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “The time has come to change the way Texas saves energy because the current setup is ineffective. It is time for the Legislature to take control and create a new state agency that can put consumers first and save more money.”

The groups plan to send a letter to state Sen. Troy Fraser, chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, and state Reps. Jim Keffer and Burt Solomons, chairs of the House Energy Resources and State Affairs Committees, asking them to support legislation in the upcoming session to create an independent efficiency agency.

Under current law, the PUC, the agency in charge of regulating most of the state’s “poles and wires” companies, is supposed to review and approve the energy efficiency programs of the utilities. But other state agencies oversee efficiency programs too, including the Department of Housing and Community Affairs and State Energy Conservation Office. Housing the coordination of these efforts under one roof would help streamline state regulation and create more savings potential for Texans, the groups said.

“Several agencies either run or oversee similar programs,” said Kate Robertson, energy efficiency specialist with Environmental Defense Fund. “In some instances, like market outreach, a single state agency could coordinate the activities of all efficiency programs instead of multiple people doing the same thing for their own programs.”

The groups also criticized the PUC’s negative attitude toward energy efficiency. Over the past year and a half, agency staff had been developing plans to increase the state’s goal for energy efficiency. On Friday, however, the three commissioners appointed by Gov. Rick Perry slashed the proposal dramatically, ostensibly for cost reasons, reducing the efficiency goal from 1 percent of peak demand by 2014 to a third of the growth in demand by 2013 – a much smaller increase. The PUC even has proposed curtailing the amount utilities can spend on efficiency measures.

“It is baffling to us that the commission thinks energy efficiency is not worth the cost,” said Matthew Johnson, a policy analyst with Public Citizen’s Texas office. “Ratepayers’ utility bills pay primarily for fuel like natural gas and coal, power plants and the grid infrastructure. Energy efficiency costs around a dollar per month on a typical $100 electric bill and it pays for itself by reducing the need for new, costly power plants.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

EDITORIAL: Seeing the light and all its power

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dismiss talk of global warming and environmentalism if you must. But times are changing fast and, along with them, the very way we heat and cool our homes and businesses.

The Texas Senate signaled as much this week, approving a bill encouraging development of solar energy plants to generate electricity, much as the state has done in making wind an energy player in Texas and beyond.

Now it’s up to the House and Gov. Rick Perry to show similar vision for Texas.

We hope it isn’t much of a stretch. Sunshine is something we have plenty of in Texas — and we’re unlikely to run out of it anytime soon.

Passage of state Sen. Kirk Watson’s legislation, with help from Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, is remarkable for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the Senate is dominated by Republicans. Watson is a Democrat.

Yet many lawmakers on both sides want to encourage the solar, geothermal and biomass energy aims in this bill. Some see the writing on the wall.

A Texas Public Utility Commission report issued Tuesday concludes that electricity prices could jump as much as $10 billion a year — $27 a month in the average electric bill — if Texans don’t anticipate looming federal greenhouse regulations aimed at cutting carbon-based fuels like natural gas and coal.

Environmentalists and lawmakers see Watson’s bill as neatly bolstering our state’s energy arsenal, especially as Texas continues to grow. Solar could help ensure energy offerings at peak times of the day, while wind will prove of greatest impact during the night hours. (more…)

Read Full Post »

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.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

At last!  I can fill you in on Monday’s fantastic solar press conference at the capitol!

Public Citizen Director Tom "Smitty" Smith and Senator Rodney Ellis

Senator Rodney Ellis and Public Citizen Director Tom "Smitty" Smith

Public Citizen, Environment Texas and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club hosted a statewide round of press conferences this week to roll out our solar report, Texas Solar Roadmap — which of course can be downloaded at www.cleanenergyfortexas.org. Our report highlights how a robust solar program would help put Texans back to work, reduce peak energy prices, curb climate change, improve air quality, and position the state as a world leader for solar production. The full report is a pretty good read, but if you’re short on time I suggest the condensed version, Wildcatting the Sun.

Our press conference in Austin was particularly exciting because we were in such great company. Senators Troy Fraser, Leticia Van de Putte, Kirk Watson, Rodney Ellis, and Representatives Mark Strama and Rafael Anchia all appeared and championed the solar bills they have introduced thus far.

anchia

shapiro

Rafael Anchia’s HB 278 and Florence Shapiro’s SB 427 would require the state’s electric utilities to support the development of 2000 megawatts of solar and other on-site renewable technologies by offering direct incentives to consumers and businesses.

This is right in line with Public Citizen’s distributed solar goal, outlined in both Wildcatting the Sun and Texas Solar Roadmap . According to our report , such a standard could lead to installations on as many as 500,000 roofs in Texas by 2020 at a cost of about 98 cents per month per Texan (Polls have shown that 81% of Texas voters are willing to pay up to a dollar a month to encourage solar power. What about you?). This investment would create an estimated 22,000 jobs and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide emissions by 29 million tons, the equivalent of taking 4.3 million cars off the road for a year.

Anchia stressed that this should be Texas’ solar session because it would answer two of our major challenges: air quality, and global warming.

solar_power_lege_09_presser_0041Senator Fraser was the first legislator to speak, proclaiming that this would be Texas’ solar session. Chairman of the Business and Commerce Committee, Fraser is well positioned to be an effective solar champion. As such, Fraser was particularly proud to forecast a sunny session for solar power. He joked that there are so many solar bills being filed this session, they are going to have to lay them all out at once and have a “solar day” where they can pick out the best bills and key components of each (this is the second time I’ve heard him say this though, so he may be serious. If so, you better bet I’ll be there with bells on!)

Fraser also said that he found the idea enumerated in Kirk Watson’s bills — that Texas was very successful in promoting wind power but missed out on manufacturing opportunities — particularly in need of our attention.

Fraser’s big solar bill is SB 545, which

would create a five-year program for distributed solar generation incentives offered through the state’s transmission and distribution utilities. The incentive program would be funded by a nominal monthly fee on residential, commercial and industrial customers.

Check out his press release from last week, when that bill was filed, for more information. Or if you’re feeling really geeky, read the bill. Watson has also filed SB 546, relating to the state goal for energy efficiency. This bill sets stepped goals for how much of the state’s growth in energy efficiency will be met by efficiency, culminating in a goal of getting 50% load growth through efficiency by 2015.

solar_power_lege_09_presser_0061Senator Van de Putte was then called up to champion CPS Energy’s new distributed energy commitment and her own solar in schools bill, SB 598. This would set up a pilot loan program to retrofit public schools with PV panels and other efficiency measures. Solar on schools is a pretty smart idea, because during summer months when the lights are off and their electricity use dips way down, they could make a lot of money pumping of energy back into the grid.

Senator Watson, a member of the Business and C0mmerce Committee and my Very Own senator, has three solar bills introduced so far. (more…)

Read Full Post »