A pair of state lawmakers have filed the first bills of the 2011 session aimed at keeping Texas at the forefront of renewable energy production. The early pieces of legislation by state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) and state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) aim at increasing solar power generation at the household and statewide levels.
Senate Bill 238 by West prohibits property owners’ associations from banning solar energy devices placed on members’ roofs, backyards or patios. The change in the law does not affect solar energy devices anywhere else on the member’s property, or devices that are unlawful or dangerous. The text of SB 238 is also contained within West’s larger SB 142, which contains a gamut of restrictions on and clarifications of the authority of property owners’ associations.
Meanwhile, House Bill 211 by Rodriguez approaches solar power from a macro-level. The bill updates Texas’ Renewable Portfolio Standard, created in 1999 and updated in 2005. Currently, the Legislature has a statewide mandate of producing 5,880 megawatts of renewable energy by 2015 and a target of 10,000 megawatts by 2025.
Texas already has about 9,727 megawatts of wind energy capacity in place, according to the third quarter 2010 market report from the American Wind Energy Association. Additional wind energy capacity in Texas is now limited by electric transmission lines — the state plans to invest $5 billion in transmission lines to help carry wind power.
Rodriguez’s bill does away with the megawatt goals and replaces them with a goal that by 2020, Texas will generate 35 percent of its energy from renewable sources, including 2 percent from solar energy technologies.
Wind power now comprises about 12 percent of the state’s electricity production.