How many state agencies does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent light bulb and a low-flow faucet head? In Texas, the answer will make you grimace: six. That’s not a very efficient way to save money or energy.
This week, Environmental Defense Fund joined Public Citizen and the SEED Coalition to call for the Texas Legislature to create a single independent efficiency agency. Today our groups sent a letter to Speaker of the House Joe Straus and Chairmen of the relevant House and Senate committees calling for this new independent agency. Such an agency could coordinate and streamline programs that are now run – often inefficiently – by multiple agencies and help save Texans money in the process.
The most recent blow to Texas’ energy efficiency progress happened this past Friday, July 30th. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) proved it cannot effectively manage its energy efficiency programs for Texas citizens’ best interests when it radically scaled back a proposal that would have saved consumers $4 to $12 billion over twenty years.
Energy efficiency would cost around $1 per month on a $100 electric bill and save $3, but the PUC has indicated that even this small amount – that pays for itself – is too much. Texas deserve better than this.
An independent efficiency agency just makes sense.
- Money-saving, Pro-consumer, pro-business energy efficiency programs languish at the PUC
- Current programs are spread over six different agencies
- One agency in charge of coordinating all of Texas’ efficiency programs will reduce agency overlap
- It can be a “one stop shop” for information on all the rebates and incentives available to homes and create an opportunity to achieve more savings
- One truck (instead of three) can provide homes with comprehensive electric, water and gas efficiency services
Soon we’ll be following up with the chair of Texas’ Senate Natural Resources Committee Troy Fraser, and the chairs of Texas’ House Energy Resources and State Affairs Committees, Jim Keffer and Burt Solomons to work on the details of our independent efficiency agency proposal.
The Legislature has the ability and the perspective to set a strong and achievable goal for energy efficiency that will save households more money on their bill that will in turn boost consumer spending in other areas of the economy.
Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their 2009 annual report ranking the top 25 cities with the most Energy Star buildings. Only three Texas cities made the list, but the rankings don’t illustrate the energy efficiency strides some Texas cities have made, nor what opportunities still remain for improvement.
What it means to be an Energy Star building
Energy Star buildings must score in the top 25 percent of EPA’s National Energy Performance Rating System. Nearly 4,000 commercial buildings earned an Energy Star rating in 2009, resulting in savings of nearly $1 billion in utility bills and more than 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Read More
When I started working on the Texas Green Jobs Guidebook last spring, talking to community college and workforce development folks around the state quickly made it clear that there was serious lack of information on what a green job is and what a person needs to find one. Read More
As Halloween draws near, beware of vampires – not the mythical blood suckers, but the unrelenting energy suckers draining power from your house right now. These costly creatures can add as much as 20 percent to a family’s utility bill, and that’s a pretty scary thought during these tough economic times.
Energy vampires are the appliances and electronics that continue to use our valuable electricity in standby mode even when turned off. Chargers without anything attached to them represent just some of the culprits. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that five to 10 percent of electricity used Read More
Last week, Governor Rick Perry vetoed Senate Bill 2169 (by Sen. Rodney Ellis), which would have established a work group of state agencies that would meet regularly to discuss how to develop the state in a smart, sustainable way.
The group would have comprised all major state agencies involved in directing economic development and planning policies in the state, including the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the Texas Water Development Read More
This morning EDF partnered with other environmental groups in a press conference with members of the Texas House of Representatives who are sponsoring energy efficiency legislation this Session.
Representative Rafael Anchia from Dallas and Representative Mark Strama from Austin spoke on the need for passing increased efficiency measures and building a network of green jobs. See the video below.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/PEsrjQY_L80" width="350" height="275" wmode="transparent" /]
Representative Anchia is the author of several major efficiency bills this Session, which EDF supports and are critical for lowering our utility bills, increasing the reliability of our electric grid, improving our air quality, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
These bills include:
- HB 280, which sets an energy efficiency goal for utilities of 2 percent of peak demand by 2020.
- HB 2210, which establishes efficiency standards for major appliances, including pool pumps, bottle-type water dispensers and portable hot tubs; and
- HB 2783, which updates statewide building codes to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code
According to Rep. Strama’s statement at today’s press conference, the Energy Resources Committee, on which he sits, plans to pass these bills out of committee this week, or next week at the latest. The next step after that is the House floor.
Stay tuned for further developments on these bills and others coming out of the Legislature. For further information on the topics, please visit The Alliance for a Clean Texas, of which EDF is a member.
Many have described energy efficiency as the low-hanging fruit for reducing greenhouse gases as well as helping us cut our rising electric bills. In Washington, DC a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be in the room when new DOE Secretary Steven Chu described it as “fruit lying on the ground.”
Translation: Energy efficiency is the cheapest, fastest and cleanest source of energy and is available now. Consider that energy efficiency:
- is one of the few weapons we have in our aresenal that is cost-effective (it saves you money);
- reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves our electric reliability;
- includes technologies that already exist with more being developed for buildings, homes, transportation, power systems, and industry;
- holds great potential for creating lots of jobs, from plumbers to energy auditors, architects to air conditioning technicians.
Those of us who work in energy efficiency are happy to have the full support of the new presidential administration, but not everything happens at the national level. There are initiatives states and cities can undertake and things that individuals can do to reduce their energy consumption and lower their bills. Learn ways to save energy and money at home.