Environment Texas decries “cynical” ploy to attack clean energy while ignoring market impacts of subsidies for dirtier energy
AUSTIN - Wind and solar power receive half the state subsidies that other forms of energy do — yet they’re the sole focus of a bill up in the Texas Senate that’s seemingly designed to cast doubt on these increasingly important sources of clean electricity in Texas.
Senate Bill 2232 would direct the state’s electric grid operator to study the impacts of “renewable energy subsidies have on the pricing, reliability, and efficiency of the electric power market in the ERCOT power region." While virtually every major form of energy receive subsidies in Texas, this study would look only at renewables such as wind and solar power. This ignores the fact that fossil fuels continue to receive the lion’s share of energy incentives.
Texas is already a world leader in wind power, and it is among the fastest-growing solar power generators in the country. Singling out these power sources undercuts Texas’ energy leadership and sends a negative message to clean energy companies that are looking to invest in Texas, said Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas.
Metzger urged legislators to amend SB 2232 to study all subsidies for all energy sources, not just those for wind and solar.
“Fossil fuel companies get twice as much financial support from the state as wind and solar, yet they’re left out of a study on subsidies,” he said. “Texans and their lawmakers need and deserve accurate information. Texas needs to be fair, not play favorites, and should therefore study them all. Otherwise, this bill looks like a cynical attempt to mislead the public on the scale and impact of just renewable energy incentives.”
Wind and solar power are helping clean the air, conserve water, lower electricity bills, create jobs, and protect the reliability of Texas’ electric grid.
Studying the impact of subsidies on the electric market is a good idea, said Metzger, but the bill should study all direct and indirect subsidies. For example, according to the Comptroller, the state spent $8 billion between 2008 and 2014 in subsidies to the natural gas industry via the high cost gas tax exemption. And all Texans indirectly subsidize fossil fuels via the health costs of air pollution.