Texas Senate Votes to Gut the State’s Wind Energy Programs

Would it surprise you to learn that a state that’s as obsessed with oil as Texas is actually one of the nation’s leaders when it comes to wind energy? Believe it or not, in 2014, more than 10 percent of the Lone Star state’s energy was produced from wind turbines. What’s disappointingly less surprising is that Texas legislators are not big fans of this environmental success. In fact, they’re actively trying to scrap the programs that helped wind energy to catch on in the first place. Now Care2 has a petition urging Texas lawmakers to back off before it’s too late.

Last week, by a vote of 21 to 10, the Texas Senate voted in favor Senate Bill 931, which would effectively eliminate everything that was helping renewable energy to grow in the state. That includes both the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, which provides credits to wind energy, and the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which outlined the state’s green energy goals.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Troy Fraser, says his legislation isn’t an attack on renewable energy, but a vote to signify “mission accomplished” in promoting renewable energy. (Now let’s get back to what we all love doing – drilling and polluting!) Although wind energy has taken off better than most would expect, how can you pretend that the “mission” is complete when the problems of climate change still loom in a major way?

Beyond that, it’s silly to assume that wind energy will even be able to hold on to its existing market share once these programs are pulled. Plus, as supporters of renewable energy point out, federal climate benchmarks are on the way, so it only makes sense to keep these programs in place for easy compliance in the near future.

Before this bill goes into law, the Texas House will have to pass it, as well. So far, no state representative has stepped up to sponsor the bill there; however, knowing the political landscape of Texas, it’s likely only a matter of time before the bill makes its way to the other chamber.

Some in the Senate insist that taking away the incentives are about promoting fair business practices. Now that wind energy has found its footing in the state, they say continuing the programs gives green energy an unfair advantage over its competitors. On the other hand, green energy proponents point out that it’s actually unfair to businesses to suddenly yank away with these programs.

Many entrepreneurs started businesses dealing with wind energy with the expectation that these programs would stay in place, and now they’re liable to lose a lot of money from these investments. “It treats the business community in a way that Texas has not historically treated the business community,” said Jeff Clark, head of The Wind Coalition in Texas.

Texas lawmakers have long proven themselves good buddies of the oil and gas industry. Once green energy started taking off beyond being just a novelty, it looks like the lobbyists have started calling in favors to crush it in the state. With the health of the planet on the line, though, we can’t let the oil companies win. Urge Texas state representatives to ignore and or reject this anti-wind energy bill so that it won’t become law by signing this petition.