Selected category: Renewable Energy

WANTED: Gang of Texas Legislators on the Loose at the Capitol Upending Local Control and Putting Texas in Harm’s Way

There is an assault on public health and environmental integrity underway in the Texas Legislature right now that’s the worst I’ve seen in my twenty-something years as an environmental advocate.

The Texas Legislature is currently considering a series of bills that would eliminate much of the important rules protecting not just air and water, but also public health and safety. Many of these laws have been in place for decades and are critical in a state where the energy industry and large polluting companies are a key part of our economy.

Here’s a run-down of some of the worst bills being considered at the Texas Legislature and the elected “leaders” sponsoring them: Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Legislation, Wind| Tagged | 1 Response

In the Face of Extreme Drought, Australia (and possibly Texas) Undoes Best Strategy for Water Conservation: Clean Energy

Source: flickr/katsrcool

Source: flickr/katsrcool

Cowboys, frontier grit, accented English, and wild, wide open spaces are just a few of the similarities shared by Texas and Australia. Both places also have an energy-water problem. But, the good news for Texas is that it’s not too late for us to learn from Australia’s mistakes – and a few successes, too.

In July 2014, Australia abandoned its carbon price, which gave Australia, a country with one of the highest per capita emissions of any developed country in the world and uses even more coal than the United States, the largest carbon-price system in the world outside of the European Union. (That is, until California’s program took effect in January 2013—California has the first-ever economy-wide carbon market in North America, potentially linking to other sub-national, national and regional markets around the world.) Since then, the Australian government has been in talks to significantly scale back its renewable energy target (RET), and the months-long squabbling without resolution is threatening the country’s renewable energy sector.

Texas, whose drought started in October 2010, is now in its worst drought on record. And some Texas leaders are taking a similar, short-sighted path as Australia when it comes to rolling back successful clean energy initiatives – ones that could also save scarce water supplies. Currently in the midst of its biennial legislative session, Texas is considering bills that would scrap the state’s successful wind renewable portfolio standard and prevent the state from complying with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP), which establishes the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution. Read More »

Also posted in Climate Change, Drought, Energy-Water Nexus| Read 1 Response

Austin Launches Texas’ Inaugural PACE Program, Unleashes Private Funding for Water and Energy Efficiency

By: Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director, Keeping PACE in Texas

PACEinaBox-logoToday 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 »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency| Tagged | Read 2 Responses

Think Texas Energy Is all about Oil? Think Again.

Source: Flickr/David Ingram

Source: Flickr/David Ingram

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.

Texas is on the cutting edge of technology – and proud of it… Read More »

Also posted in Natural gas, Oil, Solar, Wind| Comments are closed

What Do the ERCOT Reports Really Say about Texas' Cleantech Market?

Electric power linesThe Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages 90 percent of Texas’ electric grid, has been busy. In the last two months of 2014, the agency released two very lengthy reports examining the future of a lower-polluting power grid in light of upcoming EPA clean air protections, in particular the Clean Power Plan. As the media described it, the reports did not provide the rosiest of outlooks for costs to Texans or electric reliability. But I think they are looking at the reports the wrong way.

The electric grid is changing. Innovative technologies – many of which are created right here in Texas – are lowering electricity bills and increasing energy independence. They are disrupting the way we produce and use electricity and they are changing the way ERCOT looks at grid reliability – albeit not in these two reports.

Cleantech entrepreneurs are at the helm of deciding Texas’ (and, let’s face it, America’s) energy future. And there are quite a few market opportunities outlined in the reports, if you look closely. Here are a few hidden in the report, plus other trends to keep an eye on: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Power Plan, Energy Efficiency, Environmental Protection Agency, ERCOT, Smart Grid, Utilities, Wind| Tagged | Comments are closed

Rise of Clean Energy Staff Mirrors Texas' Renewable Energy Boom

The Brazos Wind Farm, also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas. Source: Wikipedia

The Brazos Wind Farm, also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas. Source: Wikipedia

At one point, not too many years ago, Environmental Defense Fund’s Austin office boasted just four employees total. In those days, I used to joke that if we ever reached 10, we’d be really big.

Well, this October, the Austin office surpassed 50 people, now making it the fourth largest EDF office.

It hit me one morning this summer when I walked into a staff meeting and realized I needed to introduce myself.

We’ve come a long way and I feel very proud to be a part of a team that’s not only talented and successful, but also increasingly diverse; the team is starting to look a lot more like America. We're better staffed to handle environmental challenges and opportunities than at any point in our history.

The growth of the Clean Energy staff – of which 12 are housed in Austin – mirrors the explosion in solar and wind power in Texas and across the United States. Read More »

Also posted in Solar, Wind| Comments are closed
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