Texas’ Clean Energy Industries Face Threats During 2023 Legislative Session
January 26, 2023
By Bret Biggart
The Houston Chronicle ran an important editorial last month about the need for different energy industries to “to coexist, adapt and evolve” in ways that lower bills, protect the grid and preserve Texas’ energy leadership. You need a subscription (a great investment for anyone who cares about Texas energy) to read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:
Fossil fuel purveyors and boosters alike seem to all agree that renewable energy is here to stay. Total electricity generation from renewable sources has risen fourfold during the past 10 years and its share of total power production has increased from 8 percent to 25 percent. Texas is the national leader in clean energy capacity, and it’s not particularly close. Texas brought 7,352 megawatts of new wind, solar, and energy storage projects online this year, with another 20,000 megawatts in development, far outpacing runner-up California in both categories.
Yet even as our grid becomes increasingly reliant on renewable power, there will still be a need in the short term for high-efficiency, dispatchable thermal energy — mostly from natural gas — that can fill in the generation gaps when weather conditions don’t favor wind and solar.
But today, three weeks into Texas’ 2023 legislative session, clean energy somehow has a target on its back. This Chronicle column catalogs many of the threats that clean energy industries face in Texas.
Meanwhile, leaders are looking to impose huge new costs on Texans — money that will flow straight to gas and coal generators.
It’s nuts. Through free-market forces and innovation, Texas has become the nation’s leader in clean energy. Breakthroughs in areas like energy storage and geothermal power are on the horizon. Sure, there are things the legislature could do to shore up and extend its leadership. But the biggest is to just get out of its own way.
I wrote last month about the need to move consumers to the center of the state’s energy conversation and find solutions that increase reliability and lower bills. That should be the goal this session, not attacking Texas’ essential clean energy resources or artificially enriching thermal generators.
Texas is a big state. As the Chronicle notes, there’s a role for a wide range of energy sources — both those that are here and those that are coming. Solar’s role is getting bigger and bigger in helping people live more powerfully by keeping them free from high bills and blackouts.
Embracing those roles will help Texas’ economy and its people. More than that, it will ensure that Texas can extend its energy leadership into the 21st century.
Image via Unsplash.