Texas Capitol Building with American flag

Texas “Dodged a Bullet” on Clean Energy — and No One Should Be Satisfied

The Texas Legislature hasn’t quite left town yet — but at least on energy issues, it’s going to leave Texans alone for a while.

By Bret Biggart

The Texas Legislature hasn’t quite left town yet — but at least on energy issues, it’s going to leave Texans alone for a while.

For half a year, legislators have openly contemplated bills and policies that would move the state backward on energy — clean energy especially. As I wrote last month in the Houston Chronicle, that’s a self-defeating approach. Attacks on clean energy inevitably raise the costs of energy on the grid, which in turn cause Texans to seek out solutions such as solar power and energy storage that help keep them free and safe from high bills and blackouts.

Fortunately, the legislature ultimately backed off. By the end of the regular session on Memorial Day, the most damaging bills either were dead or had been scaled way, way back. You can read wrap-up pieces from the Texas Energy and Power Newsletter and the Canaria Media — the headline is that on clean, advanced energy, Texas dodged a bullet.

That’s a relief, but it’s no one’s definition of success. Our state is far and away the nation’s clean energy pioneer. We shouldn’t be left counting our blessings that the legislative session didn’t do even more to undermine our nation-leading clean energy resources.

Ideally, the state will take this opportunity to pivot toward strategies that help customers, strengthen the power grid, and advance Texas’ clean energy leadership. That includes making it easier for Texans to access clean energy, no doubt. But it also includes things like helping weatherize homes and businesses.

A strong energy future also means more gas-fired power plants, especially in the short term. This doesn’t have to be a zero-sum, win-lose fight between thermal power and clean energy. As I wrote, the system works best when renewables and thermal plants work together: renewables help keep costs down, and thermals help maintain reliability across the grid.

Solar power is booming in Texas — with good reason. Our summers are hot and getting hotter. All of that sunlight that’s cooking our rooftops could be powering our AC units.

The reality is that Texans are embracing clean energy. Solutions like solar power help Texans to live more powerfully, cutting costs and protecting people and the grid from outages.

The state needs to catch up with its people.