- The Texas Senate has voted to eliminate the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and its Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) program, two initiatives that were instrumental in driving the state's explosive growth in wind power.
- Senate Bill 931, which was introduced by Senator Troy Fraser (R), passed the Senate chamber 21-10, with the vote split along party lines, according to reporting by the Texas Tribune.
- There is no such bill to eliminate the RPS and CREZ programs currently in the House, meaning the proposed legislation would first need a sponsor and committee if it is to become law.
The elimination of the RPS would hamper renewables growth and weaken the state's ability to meet imminent EPA carbon emissions targets, according to environmentalists and renewables advocates.
Senator Fraser, sponsor of the bill, argues that the state has met its renewables target and doesn't need the programs any longer.
“Mission accomplished. We set out to incentivize and get wind started in Texas, and we far surpassed that goal,” Fraser said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “There’s no state that’s come close to what we’ve done.”
On that point, there is no debate. Texas has over 12,000 MW of installed wind capacity, the most in the nation. The state's RPS set a goal of 5,880 MW by 2015, which now looks paltry in retrospect. The state has even already passed its voluntary renewables target of 10,000 MW by 2025. The RPS was first set in 1999, but it was increased in 2005. Oddly, it was Senator Fraser who wrote the legislation that boosted the RPS.
But while the RPS was an important driver of renewables growth in Texas, the CREZ program enabled a lot of that growth. The $7 billion program helped drive the build-out of transmission lines to deliver remote renewables in West Texas and the Panhandle to the big cities in the East. The CREZ program will ultimately deliver over 18,000 MW of wind, according to the state PUC. The elimination of CREZ would lessen the PUC's power to approve big transmission projects.
Despite the optics of the bill, Senator Fraser maintains that he is still "very bullish" on wind.
"We still want wind to be built, and we still want to see solar built,” he said.