Executive Director, Environment Texas
Executive Director, Environment Texas
AUSTIN – A coalition of more than 90 elected officials, business leaders, and community groups announced a plan Tuesday to revitalizeTexas’ economy through state investments in solar power and energy efficiency. The group called on the Legislature to renew Texas’ leadership as the energy capital of the world by adopting policies to boost manufacturing and installation of clean energy products.
“Our economy is struggling and unstable energy prices are only making things worse,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “But Texas has the technological prowess and vast resources of renewable energy from the sun, wind and crops that can revitalize our economy, power the nation, create thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs and renew Texas’ role as the energy capital of the world”.
The “Renew Texas” plan was endorsed by more than 90 Texas leaders, including former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister, Brownsville Mayor Patricio Ahumada, Jr, Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald, Houston City Controller Annise Parker and Councilmen Peter Brown and James Rodriguez, Dallas County Schools President Larry Duncan and Wichita Falls Mayor Pro Tem Charles Elmore and statewide organizations like the League of Women Voters, NAACP, the Sierra Club, and Public Citizen.
The plan calls on the Legislature to:
- Create incentives to install 4000 megawatts of solar power by 2020
- Require utilities to reduce energy consumption by 1% a year by 2015 and 2% a year by 2020
- Improve building codes so that the efficiency standards for new homes are increased by 15 percent every three years
- Help schools, universities and local governments improve the efficiency of buildings through low-cost loans.
- Require certain appliances to meet minimum efficiency standards.
“The wind power boom in Texas has demonstrated how clean energy investments can create jobs and put money back in the pockets of consumers,” said state Rep. Mark Strama (Austin). “We should continue down the road to a new energy economy by investing in solar and energy efficiency.”
According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, if Texas made a major investment in energy efficiency, consumers could save $5 billion in energy costs over the next fifteen years, more than 38,000 high-paying jobs would be created, and air pollution from power plants would be reduced by 20 percent. According to the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, a major investment in solar power could generate 123,000 new high-wage, technology-related, advanced manufacturing and electrical services jobs by 2020. It is predicted these jobs would be created across the entire state as large solar farms grow in West Texas, silicon plants develop along the GulfCoast and manufacturing centers appear in central Texas.
The group suggested that the programs could be funded in part by the federal government. President-elect Obama has pledged to spend $150 billion over the next ten years to promote clean energy.
“Texas could reap the largesse of new federal spending on clean energy,” said Dr. Cyrus Reed, Conservation Program Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “But because other states already have well-developed solar and efficiency programs, we have to play catch up if we want to compete in these industries.”
“Texas leads the nation in household energy consumption. The opportunity to improve energy efficiency in both new and existing homes is tremendous,” said Clark Wilson, president and CEO of Green Builders, Inc. “The Renew Texas initiative will make it more financially feasible for Texans to decrease their home energy usage and reap the benefits of lower utility bills.”