Bills relating to solar energy are moving forward through the Lege.
Texas is the top-producing state for wind-generated electricity just 12 years after a legislative deal jump-started the industry.
The Legislature is now debating whether Texas should provide a similar subsidy for other renewable energy sources that, according to proponents, would kick-start solar, geothermal and biomass as job-producing industries. The goals also would be to diversify the state’s renewable energy base and help the environment.
Austin lawmakers Sen. Kirk Watson and Rep. Mark Strama , both Democrats, are carrying legislation to do just that. But some manufacturers and electric companies oppose the efforts as either too costly or anti-market.
One bill would encourage utilities statewide to purchase up to 1,500 megawatts of power from non-wind, renewable sources between now and 2021, about 2 percent of the state’s electricity usage.
A second bill would make it clear that state law already mandates 500 megawatts be purchased from renewable sources other than wind.
“We’ve proved we can do it with wind,” Watson said of the legislation. “Now we ought to be doing it in the area of solar.”
Bill Peacock with the Texas Public Policy Foundation , a conservative think tank, agreed that wind lowered electricity prices but he said that was only because wind receives federal tax credits.
It’s not like more traditional forms of energy don’t get tax breaks of their own. One could easily argue that giving a break to solar is just leveling the playing field a bit.
The [Senate] Intergovernmental Relations committee voted on an amended bill that would allow HOAs to prohibit a panel if it sticks off the roof, looms above a fence or turns into an eyesore.
Chairman Royce West, D-Dallas, who sponsored the bill, said HOAs could still ban solar panels if they “caused unreasonable discomfort to a person of ordinary sensibilities.”
The bill was placed on the fast track to passage. It follows a handful of others, including ones that give homeowners greater voting rights in their associations and help ensure military families don’t lose their homes to HOA foreclosure.
The bill in question is SB 238 and its House companion is HB 362. A lot of similarly solar-themed legislation progressed through the Lege last session but died in the chubfest at the end. I don’t know what will happen with these bills, but I’m pretty sure that fate will not be repeated. The Texas Green Report has more.