Texas Lawmakers Have a New Scheme to Punish Renewables and Prop Up Fossil Fuels

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick waves to a crowd at a Trump rally.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick waves to a crowd at a Trump rally.
Picture: Nick Wagner (AP)

Texas Republicans are at it once more. Final week, Republican politicians within the state legislature launched a bundle of payments supposed to punish renewable vitality and enhance fossil fuels, although Texas is at the moment one of many nation’s prime mills of renewable energy.

On Thursday, Texas state senators Charles Schwertner and Phil King launched 9 payments that they mentioned would assist clear up points with Texas’s beleaguered energy grid. In keeping with the Dallas Morning Information, the payments embrace one that might create as much as 10,000 megawatts of pure gas-fueled technology; one to easy out what Schwertner mentioned have been pro-wind and photo voltaic “market distortions” that federal tax breaks create; one to do away with any remaining state tax credit for renewables; and one that might restrict new renewable vitality amenities being constructed based mostly on how a lot pure fuel amenities are additionally being constructed, in an try to preserve pure fuel aggressive.

The payments are an echo of a few of the ideas raised in payments launched two years in the past, the final time the legislature was in session, launched shortly after a 2021 winter freeze and subsequent blackouts killed lots of of individuals—and whereas the GOP was nonetheless erroneously making an attempt to blame the problems with the grid solely on renewable vitality (numerous the blame truly lay with pure fuel provide). Whereas the renewables invoice didn’t find yourself passing, Texas Republicans have saved beating the drum to attempt to use grid reforms to sink renewables and prop up fossil fuels.

Because the Dallas Morning Information reported, Texas management are all for a majority of these measures. Earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott mentioned he wouldn’t enable wind and photo voltaic firms to get company tax breaks beneath a brand new state program. In the meantime, final week Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick praised the payments on the press convention, saying in a launch that they may “repair the Texas energy grid as soon as and for all.” Patrick mentioned that he has designated two of the payments—the one to create the brand new pure fuel technology and one coping with the “market distortions”—as a part of his hand-picked suite of 30 precedence payments that he could be pushing throughout this legislative session.

What’s actually wild about this set of attainable legal guidelines is simply how properly renewable vitality is doing in Texas. Final yr, the state was the primary producer of wind vitality within the nation and the quantity two producer of photo voltaic. The Worldwide Power Company predicted final yr that renewables’ work on the grid might develop much more in 2023, pushing pure fuel use down.

“These payments will subsidize these soiled vitality sources at an enormous price to customers and the atmosphere,” Luke Metzger, govt director at Setting Texas, informed Earther in an e mail. “Of us on the Texas Legislature used to talk of the significance of not selecting winners and losers within the vitality market. Effectively, that’s precisely what these payments do. The state of Texas is meting out with the free market to subsidize polluting energy vegetation and discriminating in opposition to wind and photo voltaic vitality.”

The Texas energy grid’s points are a hell of much more advanced than ‘renewables dangerous, fossil fuels good.’ It’s going to take extra uncomfortable reforms to iron out what truly goes to work for the state, but we will rely on Republicans to take any alternative to make use of renewable vitality as a political punching bag.

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