Business coalition pushes solar energy in Texas
9, 2010 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Bill Teeter Waco Tribune-Herald, Texas
A business organization is pressing for the state government to expand
its solar power goals to make Texas a national leader in solar energy.
has the largest potential solar capacity of any state in the country but is tied
with Wisconsin for ninth place in the use of solar power, said Lucy Midelfort,
an organizer for the Go Solar Texas coalition, at a Monday press conference.
The coalition is a group of 80 businesses across the state interested in pushing
the development of solar power. The group, which has sent a letter about its position
to Gov. Rick Perry and the Public Utility Commission, favors the use of financial
incentives to get people to install solar panels at their homes and to build large
solar farms in the state.
Texas has all the materials the industry would need
to be self-sufficient within the state and dominate the solar market, she said.
Texas has a precedent in leading renewable energy, she said.
become the national leader in wind power," Midelfort said. "It's time to do the
same thing with solar."
Public Utility Commission spokesman Terry Hadley said
wind energy could set a precedent for the future of solar energy in Texas.
reality has far surpassed the standards in the law," he said. "There is a track
record for renewables in general."
The commission has a law in place defining
a 500-megawatt target for nonwind renewable energy to be obtained by power companies
in the state by 2015.
The target is not mandatory, but a proposal now in the
works would make it mandatory, with 100-megawatt annual increases until 2015.
Environmental and solar groups are hoping 100 megawatts of the 500 will be set
aside in a new regulation for on-site renewable energy generation, such as solar
panels on private homes or businesses.
A typical coal-fired electrical energy
plant produces 500 megawatts of power. The coalition wants to see the goal set
much higher for solar power specifically, Midelfort said.
The coalition wants
the goal to be 1,000 megawatts of solar by 2015 and 5,000 megawatts by 2025. Billions
of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs can be made in Texas from solar energy
under a well-run program, Midelfort said.
'100 percernt clean' The media appearance
at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce featured Waco Mayor Virginia DuPuy; Scott
Connell, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce senior vice president for strategic
development; K. Paul Holt, president of the Associated General Contractors of
America's Central Texas Chapter; and business owners involved in Waco's solar
Solar electric energy is attractive to businesses considering relocating,
so it's a good economic development bet, Connell said.
"They look for states
that prioritize solar," Connell said.
Under new air quality standards being
considered by the Environmental Protection Agency, McLennan County soon may be
tagged as an air-quality nonattainment area. The designation would mean government
entities would have to undertake efforts to improve air quality.
is becoming important to Waco and other cities because of air quality, DuPuy said.
"Solar power is 100 percent clean, it is green, and it is abundant," she said.
"We are foolish not to look at that as an industrial opportunity."
the solar power industry is small but growing in Waco.
"It's at a very beginning,"