- Texas legislation that would prematurely terminate the state's renewables madate and funding for a transmission build out program appears to have stalled in the state House of Represenatives after winning approval by the Senate in April, the Dallas Morning News reports.
- Powerful Republican Senator Troy Fraser, who sponsored Senate Bill 931, wanted to terminate the renewables mandate because it had been met shortly after he marshaled its initial passage in 2006. He wanted to stop the $7 billion Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) transmission build out program because, he says, there is excess transmission capacity.
- Both policies support the renewables industries. Advocates say ending the mandate early could disrupt $40 million per year in payments from utilities to wind farms that were factored into financing at construction. And leaving the CREZ lines unfinished, critics of the proposal say, eliminates 2,000 MW of renewables carrying capacity that could be vital to Texas meeting emissions reduction goals.
Last ditch moves by Senator Fraser to attach a repeal of the renewables mandate to another energy bill were unsuccessful, the Dallas Morning News reports. Efforts to stop the Fraser bills, which, he acknowledged, were supported by Public Utility Commission of Texas Chair Donna Nelson, were led by groups like Wind Coalition and EDF Texas.
Efforts against renewables in Texas are supported by conservative groups like Texas Public Policy Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Fraser told Utility Dive in April he has no contact with ALEC "7 or 8 years."
“Assuming this has anything to do with ALEC is ridiculous," he said. "There is no communication with them.”
In a memo to Texas regulators, Nelson wrote late last year that wind and solar are now “mature industries” that no longer need federal tax credits and should help pay for new transmission infrastructure.
Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association Director Russel Smith called Nelson’s memo to the other PUC commissioners part of the “full-court press nationwide” to limit renewables growth.