Geogreen in Texas

Several of the rural legislators in both parties who support municipal wireless for their districts and for the bandwidth-starved towns of rural Texas are among the group of sponsors of a clutch of bills proposing to increase the state’s renewable energy standard.
The website of Texas Impact (I love Google) explains the story behind the Texas renewable energy bills.

In 1999, then-Governor George W. Bush signed historic Texas legislation establishing the nation’s first “renewable power standard” or RPS. The law set goals for how much of Texans’ electricity would come from renewable sources like wind and solar power. Texas has the best potential for renewable energy of any state. The 1999 law set a modest goal of three percent by 2009, meaning that by 2009, three percent of Texas electricity would come from renewables.

Texas is likely to reach the 2009 standard this year. And rural Texas stands to gain from the jobs provided by increasing renewables, mostly wind power. So several legislators are proposing increasing the renewable targets:

  • SB 533 by Sen. Fraser and HB1671 by Rep. Hunter: 5,880 MW by 2015 ( 4.2% of state total)
  • SB 836 by Sen. Duncan and HB1798 by Rep. Swinford: 10,880 MW by 2015 ( 7.9% of state total)
  • SB1075 by Sen. Zaffirini and HB 2692 by Rep. Gallego: 20% of state total by 2020

Environmental advocates, including Texas Impact and the Union of Concerned Scientists are encouraging Texas to seek the higher 20% standard, which will result in the greatest increase in jobs and decrease in contribution to global warming.
The Texas Renewable Energy Industry Association is seeking 10% by 2015 because of concerns about building transmission for the amount of power in the next decade.
Anybody with domain expertise is most welcome to comment on the merits of the different goals. Is it the case that more is better? Is there a practical limit with how fast we can move?
Increasing renewables isn’t just a tree-lover’s dream. It’s also one of the best things the US can to increase national security — what Friedman calls the geogreen strategy. The Wahhabi think tanks that fuel Islamic fanaticism are funded by the Saudi government, which we subsidize with our oil dollars. Just a little less profit margin to the Saudis, and they reduce their exports of terrorism.
It seems like basic supply and demand economics. Starting more mideast wars increases oil prices and increases the supply of anti-American zealots. Increasing consumption of renewable energy and using less oil reduces the supply of anti-American zealots. Plan B sounds better to me.
According to a market research report released earler this month by Clean Edge, Inc. solar, wind, and fuel cells are poised to grow from a $12.9 billion industry today to $92 billion by 2013.
The total US energy market was $350 billion in 2002, so clean energy has a total market share of under 4% (not counting increases in oil prices). A better way to measure market share would be in units of energy consumption, not dollars, but CleanEdge doesn’t publish units.
According to the US Dep’t of Energy cited on this vendor’s page overall US energy consumption is growing at 2.2% a year. Taking out my trusty napkin, if you run CleanEdge’s 30% growth rate on units, the US gets to 35% market share by 2013, which is over the tipping point for the mainstreaming of new technology. But is it fast enough to save civilization from global warming?

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