What Do Texas Solar Customers Want from the Legislature This Year? Nothing.
January 18, 2023
By Bret Biggart
This week, Texas legislators convene in Austin for the 2023 legislative session. The agenda includes a range of proposals that would revamp the state’s electricity system.
I wrote in the Austin American-Statesman last month about the need to put Texans — not big gas plants or power companies — at the center of the conversation about the state’s energy future. That means strategies like home weatherization and “virtual power plants” that protect the grid and save Texans’ money. You can read more about that here.
But make no mistake: Texas’ economy — and the state’s energy leadership — demand a farsighted look at renewable energy generally and solar power in particular. Leaders need to really look at, and plan around, the role that renewables are already playing for families and businesses — clean energy makes up more than 50% of the energy grid today — and the role they need to play to help Texans live more powerfully into the future.
Now, what does that mean? What does the Texas Legislature need to do to ensure that Texas remains a leader in this fast-growing industry — and that Texans can reap the savings and protections that residential solar offers?
Basically, nothing. Or do no harm, anyway.
Legislation that Congress passed last year provides a badly needed runway for the solar industry by locking in tax savings for solar customers. That was essential, and it’s done. Texas doesn’t need to do anything more to take advantage of it.
So all the state needs to do now is get out of the way — and keep others out of the way. Don’t penalize solar customers by making solar more expensive. Don’t create an unlevel playing field in a redesigned electricity market or undercut the value of the electricity Texans are generating. And don’t let local governments, power companies, or homeowners associations make it harder for Texans to tap into solar power.
A lot of industries and business leaders will come to Austin this year looking for help or funding from the legislature. Some — including many in the renewable energy world — will push for the renewal of an economic development program to spur investment in parts of Texas. That’s an important program, to be sure. It needs to be on the agenda.
But residential solar customers and companies don’t need these kinds of incentives from the state. Texas has everything it needs to propel the solar boom we’re already experiencing.
Our wish list for this year’s legislative session: let’s all just ride this wave together.