Texas PUC Considers Doubling Wholesale Price Caps for Electricity,
Denies Petition to Implement Job Creating Clean Energy Law
Commissioners reject supporting comments from over 6,600 Texans & business owners
Austin, Texas – With the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Texas approving a measure to double statewide wholesale offer caps, a.k.a. “price caps,” for electricity from $4,500 per megawatt hour to $9,000, clean energy advocates are mobilizing a grassroots response to the Commission’s denial of a petition filed by the BlueGreen Apollo Alliance, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and other advocates that calls for the implementation of a 2005 clean energy law requiring the development of solar and geothermal energy generation.
"Instead of implementing this bold clean energy law, the PUC has made every effort to reject clean energy policies and is now moving to raise electricity prices without establishing any protections for consumers," said Dave Cortez of the Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance. “We should be implementing policy that supports Texas workers and small business owners, not making administrative moves that pad profits for outdated generators and provide zero guarantee that new power plants will be built.”
Passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Governor Perry in 2005, Senate Bill 20 established a requirement for the development of at least 500 megawatts of non-wind renewable energy, which reflects a rare sign of bipartisanship aimed at diversifying the state’s energy portfolio by establishing a market for solar and geothermal power.
Highlighting PUC Commissioner Ken Anderson’s May 2012 remark that raising price caps was like “carting away money, not in wheelbarrows, but in Mack trucks” to generators, clean energy advocates pointed to the concerns of 6,669 Texas citizens who wrote comments in support of the September 12th rulemaking petition. More than 70 individuals and organizations representing workers, professors, ranchers, and clean energy businesses also signed an endorsement letter in support of the petition.
A 2009 study conducted by Vote Solar estimated that Texas could gain more than 21,500 installation and manufacturing jobs if a 2,000-megawatt solar mandate were implemented by 2020. While comments submitted against the petition point to potential increases in the price of electricity, these opponents fail to recognize the avoided costs of importing out of state fossil fuel resources, the superior resiliency of solar and geothermal energy resources to drought, as well as long-term economic development benefits and local tax revenues that will be generated by renewable energy.
“The bad news is we’re in the process of opening a second office, and the second office will be in California,” said Tim Padden, founder of Revolve Solar. “I would rather be in Dallas, San Antonio or Houston, but the reality is California has taken a stand to support the development of the solar industry seriously by setting statewide goals and local support for their solar companies. I want to see this happen here in my home state. These could be Texas jobs.”