Environment Texas Report Shows Clean Energy Boom in Texas

Group Calls on Congress to Adopt Federal Renewable Electricity Standard

AUSTIN—Texas’ renewable electricity standard (RES) is cutting pollution, saving money, creating jobs, and fueling a clean energy boom in Texas, as in the other 24 U.S. states that have passed similar policies, according to a new report released today by Environment Texas. Environment Texas also called on Congress to establish a national RES.

America now generates twice as much electricity from the wind and the sun as it did just four years ago. RES policies have been among the most important factors in encouraging the development of renewable energy. The new report, Reaping the Rewards, documents the benefits that have already been achieved by states that have adopted renewable electricity standards.

“Texans are already reaping the rewards for Texas’ leadership on clean energy,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “Thanks to the renewable electricity standard, clean energy is booming in Texas,” continued Metzger.

Reaping the Rewards found that RES states are leading the way in renewable energy development.

  • In 2006, more than two-thirds of all new renewable electric generating capacity in the United States was built in RES states.
  • For the past two years, Texas has led the nation in wind energy with more than 3000 megawatts installed, the bulk of which has come since the passage of the RES in 1999.
  • In 2007, renewables account for about 38 percent of planned capacity additions in RES states, compared to just 12 percent in non-RES states. According to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, there are “expressions of interest in constructing 24,511 MW” of wind generation in the coming years.
  • Texas boasts the world’s largest and second largest wind farms, FPL Energy’s 735 MW Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center and the 505 MW Sweetwater project owned by Babcock & Brown & Catamount Energy, both located near Abilene.

The report also found significant environmental benefits as a result of new renewable energy development. Renewable energy sources that have been built since the adoption of state RES policies will

  • reduce America’s global warming emissions by approximately 8.4 million metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking more than 1.5 million cars off America’s roads.
  • avert approximately 2,100 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions, 44 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions, and 220 tons of non-methane hydrocarbon emissions each year.
  • save approximately 1.2 billion gallons of water per year.

RES policies play an important role in attracting manufacturing facilities by making a long-term commitment to building the market for renewable energy technologies.
For example, in November 2006, TECO/Westinghouse announced a partnership in which the company will manufacture technology for wind turbines at its Round Rock facility, adding approximately 100 jobs. MEMC Pasadena near Houston "is now a major world supplier of solar-grade polysilicon."

Renewable energy can also play an important role in accelerating rural economic development. The American Wind Energy Association estimates that royalty payments to Texas landowners exceed $9.5 million per year, while boosting local property tax revenues.

Renewable energy is also saving consumers money. According to the Wind Coalition, by displacing use of high-cost natural gas, wind power saved $476 million in wholesale power costs in Texas last year.

 “State officials across the nation deserve tremendous credit for recognizing the benefits of jumpstarting renewable energy and taking action,” said Metzger.

In order to expand the benefits of renewable energy development, the report concludes that the United States should adopt a renewable electricity standard requiring at least 25 percent of America’s electricity to come from new renewable sources by 2025.  This summer, the House passed a national RES that would establish a 15 percent requirement. The Senate also passed energy legislation this summer, but did not include an RES. The Senate can accept the House RES when the two bills are negotiated in conference this fall.

“After a decade of leadership in the states, it is time for Congress to follow,” said Metzger. “The House has taken an important step in the right direction by passing the RES, and the Senate should join them. In addition to strong fuel economy improvements and energy efficiency provisions, no energy bill will be complete without a national renewable electricity standard,” continued Metzger.