Fraser Announces Texas Ready to Respond to Call for New Federal Energy Policy
Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) announced on Monday that Texas is well-positioned to respond to any changes to policies that impact energy usage made by the new administration and the U.S. Congress in Washington.
"I fully expect leaders in Washington to ask Texans to rethink how they use energy - which is currently dominated by fossil fuel generation - in order to lessen our dependence on foreign countries," stated Fraser. "We must all work together to meet this goal so that we do not continue to strengthen our enemies."
The new administration has committed to put 1 million plug-in cars on the road by 2015 and has set a national goal to expand the use of renewable energy to 10 percent of our energy usage in 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
"We take pride in the fact that Texas is recognized as the national leader in renewable energy - especially wind generation," stated Fraser. "Since our state's electric market moved to competition in 1999, we have already implemented policies to help meet the new administration's goals. And, we are ready and willing to continue those efforts."
In 2005, Fraser authored legislation to expand the Renewable Portfolio Standard and to construct transmission infrastructure through the competitive renewable energy zone process. Also that session, the Legislature authorized the PUC to develop a plan for the deployment of advanced meter-data networks.
"One concern about wind generation is that we are not maximizing the resource at night when it is the strongest. Unfortunately, our energy demand is stronger during the day," stated Fraser. "I am working on a plan to create more demand for wind generation at night."
"I want to work with our retail providers who are installing advanced meters to develop a program to allow electricity customers to buy wind generation instead of fossil-fuel generation to power their plug-in vehicles at night," stated Fraser. "It is my hope that retail providers can offer customized plans with discounted rates so that the demand for power becomes level across the day."
Fraser also believes that Texas is already meeting the new administration's goal to expand the use of renewable energy. Currently, 12 percent of the state's possible energy supply is from wind generation. With the completion of the new transmission lines in West Texas, the available wind-generated energy could be 18 percent.
According to the Global Wind Energy Council, approximately four percent of the nation's energy supply comes from renewable energy sources. U.S. wind generation makes up one percent of that supply with 16,818 MW spanning 34 states with Texas clearly in the lead. Fraser believes that one reason Texas leads the nation in wind production is its positive-economic oriented approach.
"Texas has been the national leader in renewable standards and it is important that the Legislature continue to look for ways to allow our state and nation to become more energy independent," stated Fraser. "Today, I have filed legislation to help the administration meet this renewable energy goal."
Senate Bill 545 would create a five-year program for distributed solar generation incentives offered through the state's transmission and distribution utilities. The incentive program would be funded by a nominal monthly fee on residential, commercial and industrial customers.
"This new incentive program will make it easier for consumers to purchase the needed equipment to install solar generation and thereby ease the demand on the electrical system during peak times," stated Fraser.
Additionally, the new administration is planning to set an aggressive energy efficiency goal which will reduce electricity demand 15 percent by 2020. Fraser's efficiency efforts started in 2007 when he sponsored House Bill 3693. The 2007 legislation was intended to reduce electricity consumption sufficient to avoid short-term peak demand problems and also avoid additional costs for the construction of new power plants and power lines. SB 546 increases the amount of demand an electric utility has to meet through energy efficiency measure to 30 percent by December 2010 and 50 percent by December 2015.
"The above measures will help Texans re-think their energy use and hopefully decrease demand," stated Fraser. "However, I am still committed to ensuring our state's long-range generation goals are met through the addition of nuclear and clean coal technologies. If our state wants to continue to grow economically, we must have generation available for new businesses and residents."
"Texas is well-positioned to respond to the changes being sought by the new administration in Washington," stated Fraser. "But we must ensure that our state's and our nation's energy usage policies complement instead of constrict economic growth here in Texas. We can make positive changes without over burdening our residents and businesses financially."