Newspaper Supports Stronger Renewable Energy Goals for Texas

Dallas Morning News editorial supports bill requiring 7 percent of the electricity sold by Texas utilities be produced from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass by 2017.

Published: 31-May-2005

Let's say you've got a really bright kid who's not among the world's most academically motivated. Like any good parent, you want him to achieve his potential, so you set a specific goal: a certain grade-point average by a certain date.

It works; his grades improve steadily from semester to semester, making it clear that he's capable of exceeding the original goal. So you decide to extend the target date and set a higher goal. Do you set a mark he's guaranteed to surpass if he maintains his current rate of improvement? Or, given the capability he's demonstrated, do you pick a higher target that will require him to stretch even more?

For his sake, we hope you choose the latter. And for all our sakes, we hope that's what the governor, lieutenant governor and key legislators do as they choose between two renewable energy standards, each of which has passed both the House and the Senate.

One would require that about 7 percent of the electricity sold by Texas utilities be produced from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass by 2017. That's the best choice – although we wish the goal had been even more ambitious. The other bill would set a goal of about 5 percent by 2015 – less than the power companies are already on pace to achieve. Pretty wimpy.

Both measures suffer from language that prevents cities such as Dallas from claiming clean-air credits if they purchase "green power" that is specifically above and beyond the amount the utility companies must achieve. That provision, which would rob North Texas of an important tool for achieving federal clean-air standards, should go.

Some benefits of renewable energy are manifest: cleaner air and less dependence on foreign oil that imperils both our pocketbooks and our national security. Other advantages are less obvious: Economic studies show that fostering a renewable energy industry will help hold down electric bills, create thousands of jobs and produce a net economic gain measured in billions of dollars.

Sen. Troy Fraser will make the front-line decision on which of the two standards survives as the legislation makes its way to the governor's desk. For the reasons cited above, we urge Mr. Fraser to do the bold and responsible thing.

Speak out on energy

Raise your voice on the issue by contacting Sen. Troy Fraser, chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. Call 512-463-0124 or e-mail troy.fraser@senate.state.tx.us

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