I went to a hearing last night at the Capitol and would like to commend members from both sides of the aisle – republicans and democrats – for their clear and strong interest in increasing Texas' renewable energy profile. Sen. Fraser said at a conference earlier this year some really good things about Texas doing such a good job on climate and energy. One of his best suggestions I think was for Texas to continue what we're doing, and to me that means continuing with our Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).
I learned a long time ago, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” The Texas RPS is that rare government program that has come in under budget, ahead of schedule, and far exceeded expectations. So it seems to me that when Texas wants to do something for renewables, where other states have tried and failed, we have a clear model for success that we should be a proud champion of throughout the nation.
The Public Utility Commission has shown that our RPS has saved Texas consumers money, and I believe that SB 541 is a good example of a policy that will continue that trend by allowing market forces to find us the best and cheapest renewable energy, while capping prices to make sure consumers don't pay too much. Some may argue that “Texas got lucky with wind,” but I strongly disagree, because when you use free-market principles to drive innovation and performance, Texas consumers will always benefit.
For instance, there is a kind of solar technology you may have heard of called concentrating solar technology, which is very different from the solar panels we're all used to. It is cost competitive at Texas peak power prices, and being built all throughout the southwest, except in Texas. This kind of technology has been around for more than 30 years and is mature enough now to enter the Texas marketplace if we give it the signal of our strong interest. It is precisely this kind of technology that the RPS is designed to promote – technology that, like wind, is on the cusp of market scale, and that all experts agree when it achieves that scale, will see prices drop just as the price of wind did after Texas jumpstarted that industry in 1999.
Texas should position itself to be a leader in these technologies just as it did with wind.