8866RE: [hreg] Solar energy legislation in the Texas legislature
- Jun 2, 2009Hello all -
I have been a member of HREG for a few months now and have not been moved to email until now.
We are all disappointed with the lack of support the Texas legislature showed for solar as the session closed. Dan's previous discourse on the legislative details summed up the issues well. The main issue that killed solar this time was not the lack of enthusiasm, since both the Texas House and Senate committees passed all the bills handily, but the stalemate the bogs many state legislatures and the Federal one down.
ASES and TREIA and individual companies were, no doubt, lobbying in Austin for these bills, as well so many other interests for solar and otherwise. We need to pick ourselves up and start lobbying and writing to anticipate a potential special session and even to antipicate 2011. We, as constituents, can visit personally with our Texas legislative representatives and senators to tell them how we feel about solar, what it means to the Texas economy, and what it means to environmental interests. Politicians do what they feel gets them re-elected: we need to recast the argument for solar in dollar terms, not in the abstract accounting of moral values.
We all have lobbyings lobbying on our behalf, whether we know it or not, both at the state and Federal level, on all kinds of issues.
Go personally lobby your state representatives. Lobby those who will likely run, or are running, for governor. Small wind and solar interests don't have much money, but the face-to-face representation in Austin, along with phone calls and handwritten letters, are hugely important.
As the Chronicle pointed out, HB 1937 passed as did other measures that implement hybrid and alt fuel fleet standards for the state and provide weatherization assistance (http://blogs.chron.com/newswatchenergy/archives/2009/06/lights_go_out_o.html).
Let's stay positive and focus on what we can do, individually and collectively, rather than moan about what could have been. That's in the past now.
Ben Burke, PhD
The Woodlands, TX
--- You wrote:
Maybe not bitter, but misinformed. As a founding member of TREIA, I cannot
think of a more supportive organization, and I have been a member for 25
years. Never mind that it was the legislators that stonewalled and killed
the legislation, let's blame one of the few consistent voices for solar. We
would not have the success we have had in TX if not for TREIA.
So tell us, Steve, what did you personally do to promote the legislation,
and why wasn't such an enlightened person like yourself able to accomplish
more during this session, since we are obviously lacking solar leadership?
What milestones did you set as goals, and what were you able to achieve?
Please enlighten us with something other than cynicism and negativity.
13534 Quetzal Lane
Houston, TX 77083
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Steven
Sent: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 11:02 AM
Subject: Re: [hreg] Solar energy legislation in the Texas legislature
Thanks for the update.
Another shot in the teeth for renewable energy here in Texas.
Thanks ASES and TREIA for throwing your entire support behind Texas big wind
projects, large energy corporations, utility interests and generally
neglecting solar and small wind. We can see the fruits of your labor and
the lack of support for renewable energy dealers across the state. Lets see
if the utilities will continue their donations to you so they can use your
non-profit status as a front for their bogus green interests. I guess grass
roots support for renewable energy may be necessary after all.
And the game goes on and on. The band is playing while the ship sinks.
Hey, but I'm not bitter.
From: Jim & Janet <jhd1@...>
Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2009 9:35:02 AM
Subject: [hreg] Solar energy legislation in the Texas legislature
----- Original Message -----
From: Bill or Dorothy Swann <mailto:dbswann4@...>
To: hreg@yahoogroups. com <mailto:email@example.com>
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
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
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
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
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-
Same link: http://tinyurl. <http://tinyurl.com/lhdusv> com/lhdusv
http://blogs. wsj.com/environm entalcapital/ 2009/06/01/
-on-last-minute-motion/> texas-kills- solar-bill- on-last-minute- motion/
Same link: http://tinyurl. <http://tinyurl.com/kl8hfr> com/kl8hfr
http://www.chron. com/disp/ story.mpl/ hotstories/ 6453502.html
Same link: http://tinyurl. <http://tinyurl.com/maxfk9> 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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