March 25, 2009
By Kate Galbraith
New York Times
Green Inc. blog
Kelly LaDuke for The New York Times
Texas wants to be No. 1 in producing energy this way.
The Lone Star State leads the country
in wind power. Now Texas aims to ramp up its solar production, too.
This week the state senate is considering an avalanche of bills that would
boost state incentives for solar power, and the entire legislative session has
become known as the "solar session."
Altogether, according to David Power, the deputy director of Public Citizen Texas, a consumer and
environmental advocacy group, there are 69 renewable energy bills before the
legislature, and more than 50 of them promote solar power — far more than ever
“There are senators and representatives that are talking about solar that
have never mentioned the word probably in their lives,” he said. “We’ve
actually heard the term ‘global warming,’ and two years ago that was called
‘the G word’ — you didn’t talk about it.”
a state representative who is a leading promoter of renewable energy, has
introduced at least five green bills this year (including a measure that would
allow local governments to create a property-tax financing program for solar,
along the lines of several
“It just seems like everybody recognizes our leadership in wind, and that
government policy got us where we are today in wind,” he told me last month.
In solar, he added, “We need to catch up.”
Some businesses, concerned about higher energy
prices, urge caution.
“The state should avoid picking economic winners and losers in our economy
through subsidizing solar — or any energy source — at the expense of the
residential, commercial and industrial consumers who contribute significantly
to the Texas economy,” Luke Bellsynder, the executive director of the Texas Association of Manufacturers,
said in an e-mail message.
He also said, however, that his group supported incentives and tax
abatements for solar, and broadening the state’s energy portfolio.
Earlier this month, the city of Austin, which is aggressively pursuing
renewable power, unanimously gave
a go-ahead to a private company to build the largest photovoltaic plant in
the country, so that the local utility, Austin Energy, can buy the electricity
But the city met fierce
opposition from struggling local technology companies and other groups, who
complained about the prospect of higher electric bills.
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