Texas electric firms thwart solar bills in legislature

Bills designed to expand the developmoent of solar power and other renewable energy and require greater energy efficiency and conservationi died in the just-completed session of the Texas legislature.

The Association of Electric Companies of Texas successfully fought off legislation that would have given cities greater power to negotiate electric rates on behalf of residents and barred any single power company from having more than 20 percent of the generating capacity within each of four zones overseen by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the power grid operator for most of the state.

"Anyone who understands the development of our renewable resources in this state could not be anything but disappointed and frustrated how things went," said Russell Smith, executive director of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association, which represents businesses and organizations involved in wind, solar, biomass and geothermal ventures. Two solar energy bills (Senate Bills 545 and 541) that failed "would have taken Texas well down the path to becoming the leader in solar in the country," Smith said.

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