It's enough to make you turn green
My apologies if this has already been posted here, but this is a critical issue for renewables in Texas . The author, David Hurlbut, resigned his post at the Public Utilities Commission in protest of this provision in the renewable energy law. I believe there will be legislation introduced to repeal the section to which Mr. Hurlbut refers.
Posted on Tue, Dec. 26, 2006
http://www..dfw. com/mld/dfw/ news/opinion/ 16320653. htm
It's enough to make you turn green
By DAVID HURLBUT
Special to the Star-Telegram
Here's a Texas renewable energy quiz:
People choose to buy green power because (a.) they want to put more
renewable energy onto the grid and less pollution into the air, or (b.)
they want to keep air emissions the same but reduce the renewable energy
that other customers have to use.
If you answered (a.), you outscored the Texas Legislature.
In 2005, when lawmakers were busy with the enormously complex issues of
school finance and property tax relief, industry lobbyists successfully
promoted a piece of stealth legislation that requires turning the
state's renewable energy program on its ear.
Never mind that the Texas program is hands down the most successful in
the nation. Never mind that it has done its job at less cost to
customers than anywhere else. Never mind that so many Texas political
leaders hailed its success on the campaign trail this fall.
Unless repealed, the new law will bring all that to an end.
Here's how: Currently, each retail electric provider must obtain a
minimum amount of its wholesale power supply from renewable energy
sources. This year, for example, the minimum is about 2 percent of what
the retailer sells.
Of course, many customers want to do better than 2 percent, and they're
willing to pay a little more to do it. Rules put in place by the Public
Utility Commission make it easy for providers to offer green power --
electric service that is 100 percent renewable. Voluntary demand for
green power has grown rapidly ever since customers in most of the state
got the power to choose in 2001. This is why Texas has reached its
renewable energy goals so quickly.
The new law will make Texas green power a false choice.
Many who purchase green power do so because they want to put more
renewable energy into the Texas grid to reduce the amount that must be
generated using fossil fuels. But under this law, every kilowatt-hour of
green power purchased voluntarily by customers simply would reduce the
state minimum requirement. That means that chemical plants, steel mills
and other customers that wouldn't buy any renewable power at all if they
didn't have to could get by with purchasing less.
Ultimately, the green power purchase wouldn't increase renewable energy
use at all. This is not why consumers choose to go green. They do it
because they want to reduce air emissions.
With the new law, however, customers will no longer be free to make that
choice. This cuts at the heart of the most important principle behind
electric restructuring: the right of customers to choose and to have
their choices honored.
So far, customer choice has taken Texas in the right direction with
respect to global warming, energy security and emissions. Consider these
Wind power has become more cost-effective.
As the cost of wind power has come down, demand for green power in Texas
has gone up by about 18 percent per year.
Voluntary green power choices make up about 21 percent of the demand for
renewable power in Texas . Compliance with the minimum requirement makes
up the other 79 percent.
Texas has been moving closer to the day when consumer preferences for
green power can replace subsidies as wind power's competitive edge in
the marketplace. When that happens, Texas will deploy enough wind power
to make a serious dent in the amount of electricity generated from
To get there, however, customers must have the ability to choose green
The new law -- Section 39.904(m) of the Utilities Code -- threatens the
long-term success of renewable power because it makes that choice
impossible just when the green power market is gaining momentum. The PUC
hasn't implemented the law yet, but if the Legislature does nothing, it
will have no choice but to do so.
Politicians from the governor on down professed support for renewable
energy on the campaign trail this fall. Now it's time to see who's
serious and who's not.
Repealing Section 39.904(m) is the most meaningful action that the
Legislature could take to promote renewable energy in Texas , but
lawmakers have shown little interest.
Perhaps they need a push from their constituents.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
David Hurlbut specializes in renewable energy policy and was a senior
economist for the PUC until his resignation this month. For more than
five years, he led various policy and rulemaking activities at the PUC
relating to renewable energy development.
- Section 39.904(m) is terrible!This piece of legislation was discussed during Texas Renewables 2006 in Austin. Does anyone know what TRIEA is doing about it? Does anyone know any more details? Is there a group gathering to attempt to repeal it?