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April 21, 2009 (512) 463-0300

SENATE APPROVES SOLAR POWER INITIATIVE

Sen. Fraser
Senator Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay explains his bill to incentivize solar energy production in Texas.

(AUSTIN) — The Senate passed a measure Tuesday aimed at moving Texas to the forefront of solar energy generation in the U.S. The state already leads the nation in wind power generation, and bill author Senator Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay wants Texas to lead the way in solar power as well. "Texas is recognized as the national leader in renewable energy, especially in wind generation," he said. "Senate Bill 545 allows our state to become more energy independent and to meet our renewable energy goals through the installation of solar generation."

Over the next five years , the bill would create a $500 million incentive fund to offset the capital costs of distributed solar power, mostly residential rooftop panels, as well as utility-grade solar power. Funds would be raised through monthly surcharges on electric bills; 20 cents for residential users, $2 for commercial users and $20 for industrial users. The money will go toward rebates for homeowners who wish to install panels on their houses, and the Public Utility Commission will use the fund to incentivize the construction of large scale solar complexes. Other provisions in the bill would prohibit homeowners associations from banning solar installations in most cases, and would require that homebuilders offer solar as an option to their customers.

Fraser believes the current wind power infrastructure could work well with new solar power generation. "The way I'm hoping this will happen is that every place that there is a wind generator, I would love to see a solar panel there, so that during the day when the wind's not blowing, solar would be generating and we'd transmit it on those same lines that we've already installed," he said. The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.

The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, April 22 at 11 a.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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