It’s time for Texas to go big on solar power

More of us are going solar, meeting our energy needs in a way that’s clean, local and independent. Consider:

  • Solar power has tripled in the U.S. in the last two years, with another American family or business going solar every four minutes.
  • That’s in part because the price of solar has dropped more than 50 percent since 2011.
  • The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that “solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything...It could double every  two years.”

Who's attacking solar?

Unfortunately, solar power’s rapid growth has alarmed some dirty energy companies. They keep putting up new roadblocks to solar -- so they can keep solar generating less than 3% of our power, even if it means more pollution and more global warming.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Charles and David Koch, owners of the oil conglomerate Koch Industries, and their allies have spent heavily to impose new taxes on homeowners who go solar – in effect, penalizing those who reduce their pollution and their carbon footprint.
  • The Edison Electric Institute, which represents electric utility companies, has teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council to dismantle state pro-solar laws in Kansas, North Carolina and Washington State, amid others.
  • Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio already have moved to scale back their solar programs.

Keep the solar surge going strong

Solar power might disrupt the business plans of dirty energy companies, but it makes a ton of sense for America.

That’s why people from all walks of life are getting behind solar, from environmentalists to Tea Party activists, from solar entrepreneurs to Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of the former Republican nominee for president.

Our challenge is to not only fend off the attacks being led by the dirty energy lobby, but to keep the surge in solar power going strong.

How do we do it?

Our research shows the cities and states with the most solar power aren’t necessarily the ones with the most sunshine; they also include states with smart pro-solar policies. For example:

  • Arizona, Hawaii and California made the list of the top 10 states for solar in our 2014 report. But so did Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado and Delaware, all thanks to smart policies.
  • The top 10 solar states, with only 26% of the nation’s population, were responsible for 87% of the nation’s solar power.
  • Our report found all or nearly all of the states shared a set of smart policies in common, from strong clean energy standards to policies that let solar homeowners sell their extra power back to the utilities.

20 percent solar by 2025

We need more and better pro-solar policies, not fewer. 

That’s why we’re urging Gov. Greg Abbot to make commitments that will help put Texas on the road to 100% clean energy, with 20 percent solar by 2025.

Achieving this state goal would help move our country closer to the national goal of getting 10 percent solar by 2030. This would produce immediate and long-lasting benefits for our environment, including removing 280 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere by 2030—the equivalent of taking 59 million cars off the road.

Let's go big on solar

We think a combination of professional research and advocacy with community action can help Texas go big on solar. Why? Our national federation has done it before.

Environment California spearheaded the campaign for that state’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative. In Massachusetts, we helped convince the state to set a goal of enough solar to power 50,000 homes – and then persuaded the state to raise the goal when it hit the original milestone ahead of schedule. We’ve also won pro-solar policies in Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina.            

But we have a long way to go to reach solar power’s true potential.

It’s time to go big on solar. If we take the right steps today, we can harness more power from the sun so we can finally leave dirty energy behind. The sky really is the limit.

Issue updates

News Release | Environment Texas

Statement of Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger on New Austin Facility for SunPower

AUSTIN-Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger issued the following announcement upon news that solar company SunPower will establish a new U.S. operations center in Austin, creating at least 450 jobs.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Environment Texas Helps Texans Plug into Clean Energy for Earth Day

AUSTIN—On the eve of Earth Day, Environment Texas released a new guide to help Texans improve the energy performance of their homes and workplaces. The renewable energy and energy-saving measures proposed by Environment Texas’s Plug into Clean Energy Guide promise to lower energy bills and reduce pollution from power plants across the state.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Texas Ranks 7th in U.S. for Solar Jobs

AUSTIN – Environment Texas today released new data showing that Texas has the 7th most solar-related jobs in the country with an estimated 3,346 people employed by the solar industry.  Environment Texas was joined in releasing the new data at the Las Casas Verde Solar subdivision in South Austin.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Report Lays Out Path For Houston to Become America's Clean Energy Capital

HOUSTON- Today Environment Texas released a new report showing that, by 2030, improvements in energy efficiency and expanded solar power could reduce demand for electricity from fossil fuel sources by 7.8 percent, or enough to power 627,000 Houston homes, while expanded deployment of electric vehicles would avoid consumption of more than 104 million gallons of gasoline annually. The release of the report, America’s Emerging Clean Energy Capital: How Houston Can Lead the Nation to a New Energy Future, comes a week before the Houston City Council will vote on energy efficiency standards for new residential buildings. Council members will have the opportunity to consider adopting codes that offer significantly greater energy efficiency at a cost that is quickly recouped by energy savings.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Houston City Council Votes to Increase Energy Efficiency Standards and Move towards New Model Codes

HOUSTON- Today the Houston City Council voted to adopt energy efficiency standards for residential buildings five percent stronger than the new state minimum and set a path for achieving 15 percent greater efficiency by 2014.

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