What Will SB 624 Do?
Texas boasts its leadership in renewable energy, particularly in making wind power. However, Senate Bill 624 has caused concern among green energy supporters in the state. The bill would give the Public Utility Commission more oversight on new and existing wind and solar projects to protect landowners and wildlife. But will the proposed law darken solar hopes in Texas?
While some landowners testified in support of the legislation, critics argue it singles out renewable energy. At the same time, the bill ignores impacts of coal, oil, and natural gas. They also believe it tramples on property rights and could weaken an already vulnerable grid. All this would happen as demand for Texas power increases.
Critics Speak Out
Jeff Clark with the Advanced Power Alliance said that the bill does the opposite of protecting property rights. According to him, it is almost twisted that the only generation form the bill targets is those resources that are cleaner, have no emissions, use no water to produce electricity. He believes it is an attack on basic property rights, and the effect for every consumer in the state is higher energy prices.
Dan Cohan at Rice University said that the bill is one of the most punitive he’s ever seen for green energy. It could shut off the growth of wind and solar that Texas is currently enjoying, he said. It could also present a challenge for existing wind and solar farms to stay in business.
Critics also argue the bill could flip the switch on renewable energy and make Texas depend more on fossil fuels. Lawmakers want to incentivize the building of “despatchable” fossil fuel-burning plants. However, it could lead to higher electricity rates which would not be on the side of consumers.
To Darken Solar Hopes And More
Meanwhile, ERCOT will pin its hopes on solar and other renewables to get it through this summer. How this plays out may seriously affect future laws and investment in Texas renewables. You’ll feel the impact on your bill regardless of whether you switch electric companies.
A companion bill in the Texas House has not yet made it out of committee. If the Senate takes up this issue, it will likely be through SB 624. The House received the bill on April 25, yet it has taken no action. Time to move the bill forward is running out. Other energy bills from the Senate aren’t faring much better. The high profile SB 6 is yet to be heard in a House committee.
The legislative session ends May 29. Texans will know which bills will become law after Gov. Greg Abbott’s signing period ends June 18.