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Renewable Energy and Texas' Future

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In my last editorial, I addressed the ways that you can keep your energy costs low and I hope that some of those tips aided in a lower electric bill during these hot days of summer.  Today I want to discuss how the state of Texas plans to lower the cost of energy by reducing our dependency on  fossil fuels and replacing it with renewable sources of energy.

As a national leader, the energy industry in Texas accounts for twenty-five percent of the nation’s natural gas and twenty percent of U.S. oil production. Texas truly does have a great story of pursuing energy development and emerging as a leader in the field of fossil fuels. However, a new story about Texas’ energy supply is on the horizon, renewable energy. 

The State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) found that Texas has more renewable energy potential than any other state in the nation. This means that Texas is in a prime position to: lessen our dependence on foreign oil and diminishing fossil fuel supplies, strengthen our state’s economic development, improve our environmental impact, and provide more cost competitive energy resources.

In 2005, Texas set a goal of attaining 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy for electricity by 2025.  As of 2008, Texas was generating more than 5,880 megawatts of renewable energy (the 2015 goal), putting Texas well on its way to reaching and exceeding the 2025 goal. The success in 2008 was largely due to the wind energy industry, which provided over 6,000 megawatts of power to Texas, or enough electricity to power 1,350,000 households for an entire year.  Texas has been the leading state in wind power development since 2006, when we surpassed California. As wind energy became more established in Texas so did the need for jobs in this sector. Over 10,000 wind energy jobs have already been created in Texas, with a projection of 41,000 more jobs in the future. Higher education institutions have begun to format degrees specifically for the wind industry. Texas Tech and Texas State Technical Colleges have joined together to launch the Texas Wind Energy Institute, where students can learn specialties in the wind power sector.

Solar power has also discovered a growing market here in Texas. Recently, the SECO found that Texas ranks first in the nation in solar resource potential. In 2009, Texas ranked thirteenth among the states for solar energy production, but new plans among municipalities and rural areas will help raise Texas’ rank in the next few years. San Antonio and Austin have signed contracts to buy power from solar power plants that are being built here in the Lone Star State. These plants can generate up to 60 megawatts, helping to contribute to Texas’ 2025 goal.  These new facilities will also spur job creation and Texas universities are ready to train future employees through newly created renewable energy programs.

Though I only discussed wind and solar power, there is still an even larger market here in Texas for additional renewable energy resources. There is so much left to discover and develop in this area and Texas is the state leading the way in diversifying its energy portfolio.  Our renewable energy future is bright and I believe the renewable energy industry will play a significant role in the future economic development and energy independence of our great state.

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives.  Please feel free to contact me at my district office at 972.724.8477 or by e-mail at tan.parker@house.state.tx.us if I can ever be of service.

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