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Texas Senate Votes to End Renewable Energy Programs

Jim Malewitz, The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would close the book on two programs that helped fuel the state’s years-long surge in wind energy production.

With a 21-10 vote, the chamber sent Sen. Troy Fraser’s proposal, Senate Bill 931, to House lawmakers. It would end the Renewable Portfolio Standardwhich established a state renewable energy goal. It would also close Texas’ Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) initiative, a power line program that sparked huge investments in wind energy.

The proposal has angered environmentalists and renewable energy industry groups. But Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, has said his effort is merely intended to declare “mission accomplished.”

That’s because Texas long ago surpassed its renewable energy goal, and most of the $7 billion CREZ program – which regulators used to build power lines to connect windy West Texas to large electricity-hungry cities in the east – was completed in December.

Texas manufacturers and free market think tanks are among those who support the legislation, saying the two programs gave renewable energy a leg up that it no longer needs.

But advocates for renewable energy say the changes would shake the industry’s confidence in Texas’ business climate. Also, with federal climate regulations looming, critics say the legislation would take away an option Texas might tap to meet its proposed carbon goal.

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