- In a memo to Texas regulators, Public Utility Commission of Texas Chair Donna Nelson wrote that wind and solar are now “mature industries” that no longer need federal tax credits and should contribute new transmission infrastructure costs.
- Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association Director Russel Smith called Nelson’s memo to the other PUC commissioners part of “a full-court press nationwide” to limit the growth of renewables, a growth that saw natural gas go from 45.5% to 40.5% of Texas electricity between 2007 and 2013, while wind went from 2.9% to 9.9%.
- Wind’s growth in Texas began with Governor George W. Bush-backed initiatives funded with oil-and-gas industry investments during the late 1990s when natural gas was too expensive to be a big part of electricity generation.
Wind’s federal production tax credit remained inconsistently accessible to developers during wind’s post-2007 growth period and, in the same period, Texas spent $6.95 billion for new transmission infrastructure in PUCT-designated competitive renewable energy zones (CREZs) to deliver Panhandle and West Texas wind to load centers in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio-Austin.
A Texas renewables advocate noted that enthusiasm for renewables shifted significantly after 2012, when the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) called on conservatives to stop supporting Obama administration-backed renewables efforts.
Anti-renewables conservatives argue that wind got 42% of federal electricity production support and natural gas got only 5.5% between 2000 and 2010 but they ignore the fossil industries’ 27.7% of all DOE energy technology funding during that period compared to the overall electric sector’s 15.2% and renewables’ 16.8%.