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8859Solar energy legislation in the Texas legislature

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  • Jim & Janet
    Jun 2, 2009
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Monday, June 01, 2009 11:52 PM
      Subject: [hreg] Solar energy legislation in the Texas legislature

      I assume that useful solar energy legislation died in the last session. Am I correct?
      Thanks,Bill S
      Here's the reply via NTREG
      > --- On Tue, 6/2/09, Jason Coffman wrote:
      > So what ever happened here? From what I can see,
      > this was never voted on. Was it killed in committee?
      > I see it went to committee on 5/30, but I don't see a
      > vote or anything that was supposed to happen on 5/31.
      Jason and everyone,

      This is a long reply, but well worth reading....
      At the moment, it's bad news, but may not be permanently so.
      This is a complicated situation. I was hoping to wait a few more days before reporting on the outcome, because there's a microscopic glimmer of hope it could yet change.
      However .. since you've asked .. here's where we stand:
      You're correct. The key solar bills we were watching never came up for a final vote, killing them (for now).
      Of 208 pieces of legislation introduced in the 2009 session dealing with solar and/or renewables in some form, only one made it to Governor Perry's desk -- a bill allowing homeowners to finance the purchase of solar energy equipment through the state, then pay for their purchase over the next 20 years by an increase in their property tax. With no other incentives, it may be difficult to motivate people to use this program when the up-front cost is so high.
      Now for the [possibly] good news.
      Many vital legislative actions also failed. Case in point: the vote to continue the Department of Transportation didn't happen.
      Legislation failed that would keep the Texas Dept of Transportation funded. The DOT will essentially be shut down if lawmakers don’t vote to keep it funded. That alone virtually guarantees a special session.
      Now then, Governor Perry is the only person with the authority to call a special session.
      He is also the only one who can set the agenda for the special session.
      *IF* he does call a special session, and it's a virtual certainty he will (if only to address the DOT situation at the moment), it opens the door for an opportunity to influence him to include other bills, such as solar. It also opens the door for him to include the voter ID bill, which is at the very heart of all the dissention in the first place.

      Many "IFs" here.

      *IF* Governor Perry calls a special session...

      *IF* he can be persuaded to include the solar bills in that session...

      *IF* the bills get consideration in that special session...

      *IF* the outcome is positive ...

      Only then will we stand a chance to see the solar bills become law.
      There are *many* people and organizations who will be working on behalf of solar energy to get the key "solar" bills included in if/when Governor Perry calls a special legislative session. These are folks you may have heard mentioned ... such as the Texas Solar Energy Industries Association, the Texas Solar Energy Society .. Environment Texas .. and many others.
      Realize too solar is one of possibly dozens of issues, all of which will have advocates and detractors pushing for, or against inclusion in a special session .. *IF* one is called.
      Will it happen? I don't know. All we can do is wait. If Gov Perry *does* call a special session, we can try again this summer to influence our legislators. If not, it'll be two more years.
      In closing, I'd like to add a comment I feel is indicative of what may be the mindset of at least SOME of our legislators:
      I spoke with an aide in Representative Terri Hodge's office a few days ago, during the waning days of this session. She (the aide) told me Rep Hodges was not in favor of the solar bills.
      I asked "Why?".
      Her aid told me she opposed the solar bills "because it would raise the cost of electricity to residential customers to finance the equipment".
      When I asked the aide if she knew how much it would raise a monthly residential bill, she admitted she didn't know. So I told her - only 20 cents a month. The aide's reaction? "Is that all?". Apparently Rep Hodge was also under the impression the increase would be large, but by then it was too late.
      Representative Hodge had been told it would raise electric bills. Apparently she hadn't been told how little the increase would be. Less than a penny a day.
      I have to believe this is indicative how other legislators' understanding of the situation must be.
      Energy is a complicated issue. One of the staunchest opponents to the solar bills is Representative Sylvester Turner of Houston.
      Why? I don't know.
      In closing .. the solar bills didn't die because they were bad bills. In fact, they passed the Senate on overwhelmingly supportive vote counts. 26 to 4 in one case. 27 to 3 in the other (if memory serves correctly.) They came out of committee with a unanimous vote in one case .. and only one member voting in opposition in the other. The support was there.
      So why did the solar bills (like so MANY other bills) .. fail?
      The solar bills failed to become law because our elected officials reverted to partisan bickering over one bill. "Voter ID." Rather than set the ID issue aside and deal with other legislation .. such as solar .. it became a "prevail at all cost with my point of view" no matter what the cost. Good legislation became the victim in the process.
      I've included three links below to news articles with additional detail on the overall outcome.
      My suggestion: Print them all. Use them for "bathroom" reading material. It's enough to make you sick.

      http://greeninc. blogs.nytimes. com/2009/ 06/01/solar- push-in-texas- fails/
      Same link: http://tinyurl. com/lhdusv

      http://blogs. wsj.com/environm entalcapital/ 2009/06/01/ texas-kills- solar-bill- on-last-minute- motion/
      Same link: http://tinyurl. com/kl8hfr

      http://www.chron. com/disp/ story.mpl/ hotstories/ 6453502.html
      Same link: http://tinyurl. com/maxfk9

      Will keep you posted.


      P.S. If Yahoo messes up any of the long links above, use the "Tiny URL" link I've provided. It's the same link as each of the originals, just shorter.

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