The Daily Wogan: Texas’ Transition to the Green Star State

The following was a post published last Tuesday (12/7) by Mr. David M. Wogan on his blog The Daily Wogan. The post includes commentary on activity in the Texas Legislature on the topic of clean energy.

Published the day before the CleanTX Legislative Minisummit at the Texas capitol building, it is an interesting commentary for those interested in Texas politics and the state’s drive toward the development of clean, renewable, 21st century energy.

Last week Melissa Lott wrote a blog post at Scientific American about how Texas is transitioning beyond being the petroleum capital of the United States. These sentiments are echoed in the Texas Legislature including Kirk Watson, D-Austin:

“You know, stop right there for a second.  Because the mere fact that there’s a conference about clean, renewable, 21st Century energy out near the edge of the Permian Basin should tell you a lot about where the world’s headed.

For a century, the energy industry has been defined by oil and other fossil fuels that have meant so much to the West Texas economy – and really, to all of the state.

But that industry is fundamentally changing.  It’s moving toward renewable energy, both to solve current environmental challenges and to meet the needs of a growing state, nation, and world.”

But Texas needs to keep innovating and not rest on its laurels. Wind has been extremely successful in the state for pretty much everyone involved, but the CREZ transmission lines are facing opposition from landowners, environmentalists, and elected officials.

In 2005, the Texas Legislature designated Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (affectionally referred to as CREZ zones) to move the electrons from where the wind is (in west Texas) to where the people are (Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston). It goes to show that every energy technology has tradeoffs.

Texas is also conspicuously lacking in solar energy and biomass production (and not for lack of resources). As of 2008, solar energy doesn’t even register on the books (behind California – 416 MW of capacity – and even New Jersey at 4 MW of generating capacity). And with non-attainment looming for most of the urban centers, renewable energy (among many other things) could help the state clean up its air and water.

But even wind development has a few kinks: the CREZ transmission lines are facing opposition from landowners, environmentalists, and elected officials. In 2005, the Texas Legislature designated Competitive Renewable Electricity Zones (affectionally referred to as CREZ zones) to move the electrons from where the wind is (in west Texas) to where the people are (Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston). It goes to show that every energy technology has tradeoffs.

Looking ahead, the upcoming legislative session will be dominated by redistricting and the budget, not leaving room for much else (including energy legislation). However, Senator Watson does plan on reintroducing his solar energy bill again, and it sounds like Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, and Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, might have energy bills in the works.

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