By: Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director, Keeping PACE in Texas
Today marked a milestone for Texas’ clean energy economy. Travis County voted to adopt the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, making it the first county in Texas to do so. This means Austin and the surrounding area will soon reap the economic and environmental benefits from giving energy-intensive, thirsty Texas a reprieve with water efficiency and clean energy.
What is PACE?
PACE, enacted during the 2013 Texas Legislature with support from both sides of the aisle, has the potential to unlock a considerable amount of private funding for clean energy projects in the state. Specifically, it is an innovative financing program – completely free of government mandates and public funding – that enables commercial, industrial, multi-family, and agricultural property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for water conservation, energy-efficiency, and renewable energy projects. Participants will then repay these loans for clean energy projects through their property tax bill. Read More
At Environmental Defense Fund, we advocate for policymakers, utilities, and other decision makers to design programs and support policies that enable everyone to benefit from a clean energy future, especially low-income families who are disproportionately affected by pollution from power plants. Recently, in Texas, a new innovation caught our eye that brings this concept to life.
This post is an interview with Gridmates CEO George Koutitas, who is harnessing the Internet, crowdsourcing, and generosity to bring light and warmth into homes that otherwise wouldn’t have power.
What is energy poverty? In the U.S. and Texas, how many live without electricity or struggle to pay for their electricity bill each month?
In the U.S., approximately 48 million people are at or below the poverty line and may be suffering from energy poverty, meaning they cannot afford to pay for electricity and other utilities. In Texas, more than 4.6 million people are living in energy poverty. These are low-income families and, in some occasions, they owe a $5,000 accumulated debt to utilities. This debt often leads to energy service disconnections, leaving families without heat and power. Thankfully, in 2014, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provided energy assistance to roughly 6.9 million households nationwide, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Read More
We’ve almost made it to the midway point of the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature. As many already know, the Texas Legislature only meets from January to May every other year, so a lot has to get done in these few months.
This midway point is critical because it marks the deadline for Representatives and Senators to file bills, and it signals the rush to the finish line. Once we pass this point, the speed picks up substantially, as do the working hours and pressure.
Most bills that are filed will not make it to the Governor’s desk – for any number of reasons. But it is a good time to check in to see which climate, clean energy, and energy-water nexus bills have been filed this Session. Here’s a look at a few that are likely to rise to the top, and ones we hope will cross the finish line by June 1st. Read More
By: Marita Mirzatuny and Kate Zerrenner
National Guard responding to flood emergencies.
When the U.S. military calls climate change a “threat multiplier” and “a serious threat to national security,” it makes anyone stand up and pay attention. From direct land impacts and food and water shortages, to the displacement of millions of people, climate change is not taken lightly by our armed forces.
Earlier this week, two military experts, Lt. Gen. Ken Eickmann (USAF, Ret.) and British Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti (Royal Navy, Ret.), testified at a Texas House International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Hearing and later at an event hosted by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law and the British Consulate-General University at University of Texas' LBJ School. As a senior research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin's Energy Institute and Former UK Foreign Secretary Special Representative for Climate Change, Eickmann and Morisetti, respectively, bring a level of trust and confidence to this issue, disarming the politics, if just for a moment, and replacing it with pragmatic duty.
Eickmann and Morisetti’s message was loud and clear: We need to diversify our energy options and shift more toward a clean energy economy. The potential for Texas is boundless. Read More
I 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
Technology is making clean energy competitive with coal for the first time in history, and that’s a game changer.
In 1999, we pushed to get the first renewable energy mandate passed in the country – in Texas of all places. There were all sorts of concerns at the time that wind could not be integrated into the system, or that it would be too expensive. Time has proven otherwise.
Yes, Texas has plenty of oil and gas, but we also have a lot of sun and wind. Those early investments in renewables paid off and today the Lone Star State is the top wind energy-producing state in the nation.
As such, I believe we're helping to drive investments in wind across the United States. Read More