A "new energy" agenda for TX legislative session

Texas hasn’t missed out on an economic boom in 100 years. Is it about to miss the boat with “the new energy economy?”
That’s the question asked by a report put out today by The Catalyst Project, the brain child of Austin PR man Colin Rowan. The author talks to a lot of big thinkers on energy, policy and Texas, such as former FERC Chairman Pat Wood, Fulbright & Jaworski attorney Pike Powers and former Dell Computer president Lee Walker about the things the state needs to do to attract the next generation of energy development here. We wrote about it in today’s paper.
No, we’re not talking unconventional gas plays or drilling prospects in the lower tertiary. This is the non-fossil-fuel-burning kind of business, or at least the technology that makes it so we don’t have to burn as much.
In a nutshell, Texas could miss the boat if it doesn’t better coordinate its existing economic development efforts and aim them squarely and aggressively at these new businesses. Elected leaders need to stop freaking out about the inevitable regulation of carbon, as they seem to in some places here and start thinking constructively and creatively, the report says.
“We need to announce that Texas wants these jobs and we’re going to get them, one way or another,” said former Texas Public Utility Commissioner and current wind energy exec Karl Rabago in the report. “If we wait until 2011, it’s going to be ‘How do we adjust to it?’ rather than ‘How do we take advantage?’ If Texas hasn’t crafted our own strategy, we will be takers, not makers … price-takers, regulation-takers, and rules-takers. And being a taker is not a good thing.”
The report doesn’t call for reinvention of the wheel or raising a whole lot of new funds (although the recommendation for incentives for business and residential solar, similar to what other cities have, wouldn’t be free). Much of it is re-focusing, re-branding and marketing what Texas has to offer the companies in a consistent and aggressive way.
The report uses the example of Austin recruiting Microelectronics & Computer Technology Corp. to set up its headquarters there in 1983 as a catalyst to turn the state capital into the high tech hub it is today. It was a concerted effort that needs to be repeated, the report argues.
Take a few minutes to read it (it’s not exactly a short read, however) and let us know what you think.