Fort Worth's Entech Solar seeks incentives to expand

FORT WORTH — For Entech Solar, the level of interest soared in the summer when the price of crude reached $140 a barrel.

Suddenly, the calls came in as companies and government entities searched for new sources of energy. But the surge wasn’t just about being green.

"They want to know what their costs are going to be," said Robert Walters, vice president of marketing for Entech Solar, which designs solar systems and is based in the Alliance Global Logistics Hub in far north Fort Worth.

Even as gas prices have dropped, the interest in renewable energy has remained high.

At a news conference Monday at Entech's headquarters, Tom "Smitty" Smith of Public Citizen said Texas is competing with 30 other states to become the manufacturing capital of the United States and needs incentives to keep pace with states like New Jersey.

"With the economic-stimulus package pending and federal global-warming legislation down the pipe, Texas now more than ever needs to take the lead on renewable-energy projects," Smith said.

Legislative and environmental leaders held news conferences statewide Monday to promote solar legislation. A bipartisan group of legislators announced several initiatives designed to expand solar energy in Texas and said Texas has more untapped solar power than any other state.

Smith said legislators have filed 18 solar-power bills that would, for example, create incentive programs from user fees to encourage businesses and individuals to install solar systems. Proponents say that about an extra $1 a month on utility bills could result in 500,000 solar roofs in Texas by 2020 and bring the state 22,000 jobs.

To read the complete column, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.