We wrote about a proposed bill to help jump-start the Texas solar energy business the way the electric deregulation effort back in 1999 helped make wind power the force it is in Texas today. The bill we focused on, SB 545, is on life support due to the legislative log jam in the House, however, and needs to get attached to an existing Senate bill by midnight tonight to keep going.
“We are looking for potential vehicles but we don’t know yet how it will move forward,” said Janice McCoy, chief of staff for Sen. Troy Fraser, the sponsor of the bill.
Luke Metzger at Environment Texas summarizes current status of some of the renewable energy bills:
Yesterday, the Senate approved HB 1937 by Rep. Mike Villareal (D-San Antonio). The bill allows local governments to finance solar projects for homeowners and then get reimbursed via property taxes over the course of 20 years. This is a great way to help eliminate the barrier of needing 20-30k in cash upfront to get solar and should really help solar take off in Texas. Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) carried the bill over in the Senate.
Today, the Senate will take up HB 1243 by Rep. Pete Gallego (D- Alpine), which addresses “net metering issues”. Sen. Troy Fraser, author of SB 545 (the big solar rebate bill), is carrying HB 1243 over in the Senate and may attempt to add SB 545 to the bill. The Senate will also take up HB 2783 by Rep. Rafael Anchia(D- Dallas), which would require greater energy efficiency standards for new buildings (the energy savings from the measure will be enough to power 600,000 homes a year by 2020).
We expect various pieces of SB 16 by Sen. Kip Averitt (R – Waco) to end up in different bills. The Senate will also take up HB 469 and HB 4525 to give millions of dollars in subsidies to so-called “clean coal” and nuclear power plants, HB 432 to double the number of clean, efficient vehicles that must be in the state fleet (from 10 to 20 per cent), HB 1182 to restore funding for the System Benefit Fund (including funds for weatherization), HB 4299 to incent rainwater harvesting.
Finally, we’re still waiting to see what will happen with the big energy efficiency bill – SB 546. See this post from the Dallas Morning News to learn what’s happening.
Also today, the Department of Energy announced a plan (OK, the President did the announcing) to invest $467 million in stimulus funds on geothermal and solar projects. For solar it includes:
Photovoltaic Technology Development ($51.5 Million) :
DOE will expand investment in advanced photovoltaic concepts and high impact technologies, with the aim of making solar energy cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity and to strengthen the competitiveness and capabilities of domestic manufacturers.
Solar Energy Deployment ($40.5 Million) :
Projects in this area will focus on non-technical barriers to solar energy deployment, including grid connection, market barriers to solar energy adoption in cities, and the shortage of trained solar energy installers. Combined with new technology development, these deployment activities will help clear the path for wider adoption of solar energy in residential, commercial, and municipal environments.
Concentrating Solar Power Research and Development ($25.6 Million) :
This work will focus on improving the reliability of concentrating solar power technologies and enhancing the capabilities of DOE National Laboratories to provide test and evaluation support to the solar industry.