Author Archives: John Hall

3 Sure Signs of Texas’ Emerging Solar Market

solar flickr ricketyusAustin, my home for the past 35 years, is typically a pretty sunny place year-round. But summer is when I am reminded of the sun’s unwavering presence and strength.

Fortunately, Texas is beginning to put those rays to work, as evidenced by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) newest U.S. Solar Market Insight. Along with projected scenarios from the state’s main grid operator and a recent poll of Texas voters, the report confirms the Lone Star State’s solar power is on an unstoppable course. And the more we can take advantage of the sun’s energy, the less we have to rely on outdated, polluting coal plants – a good thing for our health and water.

Here are three reasons Texas solar is on the rise:

  • Texas solar is growing very quickly: The new Solar Market Insight report declares Texas to be the fastest growing utility-scale solar market in the country. In fact, by the end of 2016, SEIA predicts the state’s total installed solar capacity will more than double. And within the next five years, Texas’ solar market will be second only to California’s (although, considering California has one-fourthof the solar power potential of Texas, we could eclipse the Golden State in coming years).

Read More »

Posted in Energy-Water Nexus, Solar Energy, Texas| Comments are closed

Why Texas Leaders Should Maintain Clean Energy Tools

wind turbines unsplashIn terms of clean energy, Texas is incredibly resource-rich. And as our wind progress shows, we have begun to maximize that potential: The Lone Star State currently produces nearly three times as much wind energy as the next highest state.

How did Texas arrive at the forefront of the wind energy economy? One factor that undoubtedly played a vital role: the creation of an ahead-of-its-time policy tool that required the identification of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ), as well as the construction of transmission lines to move energy from the CREZ to electric customers.

Since West Texas has plentiful wind but not as many people, this initiative aimed to transport that wind energy to populous cities throughout the state. The rules allow the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to designate an area with abundant renewable energy as a CREZ, and then approve new transmission lines or improvements to existing ones. In 2008, the PUCT exercised this authority and the resulting power lines – completed in 2014 – stretch nearly 3,600 miles, moving clean, renewable energy across the state while improving the overall reliability of the electric grid.

However, despite these successes, the PUCT recently proposed to dismantle the rules related to CREZ and the approval of new transmission lines, which would be a significant affront to the state’s thriving wind industry – including the revenue and jobs that come with it. Right now, there are no proposals to expand the designation of CREZ and develop additional power lines to those zones. But with the rapidly changing energy landscape, it makes more sense for state leaders to maintain CREZ capabilities in their toolkit, rather than undoing a successful energy development policy. Read More »

Posted in Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Texas| Comments are closed

It’s Time to Change the Conversation about the Clean Power Plan in Texas.

texas capWhen the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized America’s Clean Power Plan in early August, it marked the first time our country has put a limit on emissions from the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution: power plants. The standards represent a huge step forward for cleaner air and all of the benefits that come along with it.

Texas leaders immediately denounced the final plan, boldly proclaiming it would have catastrophic consequences, and vowed to fight the Clean Power Plan.

But if state decision makers stop to look at the facts, they will see that the Clean Power Plan is well within our reach. In fact, Texas can get to 88 percent of the way toward compliance simply through current trends alone, as shown in our new report out today, Well Within Reach: How Texas Can Comply with and Benefit from the Clean Power Plan. And, not only is compliance achievable, the plan actually provides Texas the opportunity to use it to grow the state’s economy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Power Plan, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy| Comments are closed

Texas Grid Survives Heat, but Could Use More Energy Efficiency and Demand Response

By: John Hall, Texas State Director, Clean Energy, and Sarah Ryan, Clean Energy Consultant

hot bucket of water morgue free fileThis month Texans have been at the mercy of some extreme, shoe-melting heat. Yet, despite the heat wave and resulting high demand in electricity, the state’s main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has barely broken a sweat. Demand even passed the previous record-high mark twice in one afternoon, but ERCOT has not called for a single system emergency.

How is ERCOT able to handle this massive stress on the grid, even as Texas’ population continues to rise at an impressive rate? Although some new generation has come online to meet increased electricity needs in the state, two key resources are working “behind the grid” to lower demand. Energy efficiency and demand response, a way to incentivize people to conserve energy when the electric grid is stressed, are both essential tools in preventing blackouts during the hottest months of the year, while maintaining Texas’ commitment to a clean energy future. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, General, Texas| Comments are closed

Clean Power Plan Should be Met with Texas-Sized Innovation

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/3189889363For the past 25 years, I have had the opportunity to work on clean energy and clean air issues for Texas. Throughout this time, I have come to believe the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages about 90 percent of Texas’ grid, is the best grid operator in the country. In my opinion, ERCOT has implemented the most competitive electric marketplace in the country, while stabilizing utility costs and maintaining reliability.

And now, Texas is being presented with an opportunity to continue leading on electricity. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released its historic final standards on carbon pollution from power plants, the Clean Power Plan, and Texas is well-positioned to comply. Not only that, the plan could actually be one of our state’s most effective tools for economic development and water planning.

I’m hopeful ERCOT and other involved Texas decision makers will recognize the clean energy trends already underway and seize the potential benefits within our reach through the Clean Power Plan – making the best decisions for our citizens and economy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Power Plan, Texas| Comments are closed

Efficiency is what Texas Can (and Should) Do Best

SPEERI have been involved in Texas’ energy sector for a long time, particularly from an environmental perspective.

I was there when the state’s metropolitan centers and their robust industrial sectors were challenged to reduce ozone-forming pollution. I was there when Texas deregulated its energy market to increase competition, improve choices for residents and businesses, and lower electricity prices. And now, I’m here to witness the state’s transition to a clean energy economy – one that harnesses more West Texas wind energy, rooftop solar, and natural gas (with the right controls in place) than any other time in history.

The one thing that ties all of these events together is efficiency – something Texas has led in the past.

Energy efficiency is Texas’ most cost-effective way to reduce energy use and carbon pollution from power plants. It also creates other benefits to the power grid, like improving reliability and lowering costs for infrastructure maintenance. Plus, saving energy saves water, which is critical in a state like Texas under the pressure of a multi-year drought. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Texas| Comments are closed
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