AUSTIN – As the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas consider a proposal to raise electric rates to pay for new power plants, a new report finds Texas is far behind other states in adopting policies to cut energy waste and promote more efficient use of electricity. Environment Texas called on the state to maximize energy efficiency and avoid schemes to subsidize dirty power plants.
The report by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranks Texas 33nd for programs to promote energy efficiency. The report finds that “Texas realizes low levels of electrical savings and does not focus on natural gas efficiency,” hasn’t adopted the latest building efficiency standards, and has played little role in policies to encourage energy-efficient transportation.
“This unimpressive ranking does more than just hurt state pride. It points to a wasteful reliance on fossil fuels which contribute to air pollution and global warming and cost Texas families and businesses more and more each year,” said Rachel Stone, Clean Energy Attorney with Environment Texas.
While Texas was an early leader in energy efficiency investments, other states have dramatically increased their energy savings programs, leading to Texas’ decline in the overall state rankings. In a December 2008 report, the PUC found vast potential for energy efficiency in the state which, if tapped, could save Texans as much $11.9 billion on their electric bills. As the PUC considers restructuring the electric market, Environment Texas urged the commission to develop a plan that incentivizes greater use of energy efficiency and demand response and avoids subsidizing some of the state’s dirtiest power plants.
Environment Texas urged the state to follow the lead of Texas cities which adopted clean energy policies. For example, the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) is currently considering adoption of model standards for energy efficiency in new residential and commercial buildings. Austin and twenty other Texas cities have adopted the code as have the states of Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. SECO will hold a stakeholder meeting on Nov. 15 to consider adoption of more efficient standards for new commercial buildings.