Texas Could Be a Renewable Energy Powerhouse

This week the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation released a report that shows that a robust renewable energy market in Texas could create almost 23,000 new jobs and spur $2.7 billion annually in local and state tax revenue over the next 10 years.

Former Texas chief deputy comptroller of public accounts Billy C. Hamilton, is the author of the report, which examines factors that affect Texas’ energy economy – rising demand for electricity, continued volatility in global energy markets, declining costs for clean energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass, competition with other states and the concerns of average Texans over their electric bills – and presents possible scenarios for the state’s clean energy economy over the next decade.

The study explains how state policies such as Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and state incentives that support growing the clean energy sector can provide citizens and businesses with economic opportunities that create jobs, increase gross state product (GSP) and increase local and state tax revenue.

The Baseline scenario is based on Texas’ 8.6 percent of U.S. renewable electric generating capacity in 2009. Assuming that Texas would innovate enough to maintain its share of U.S. clean energy capacity through 2020, employment in the clean energy sector would increase by 6,000 jobs per year from 2010-20. Texas gross state product (GSP) would increase by $802 million annually, while state and local governments would gain an additional $177 million per year in new tax revenue, or more than $350 million per biennium.

The High Range scenario is based on Texas’ 29.7 percent share of the increase in U.S. renewable electric generation capacity during the state’s wind power expansion from 2004-09, plus an expanded RPS of 13,000 MW of renewable-based power and a set-aside for 3,500 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy. If the state chooses to support the clean energy sector at this level, job gains would jump to 22,900 per year, Texas GSP would increase by $2.7 billion per year, and state and local tax revenues would increase by $279 million per year, or more than half a billion dollars per biennium.

The study explains that minimal investment – about $0.01 per kWh or approximately $13 per average Texas family per month – is what it would cost ratepayers on their electric bills to get to the high range scenario.

“For most Texans, incremental changes of a few cents per day would be an attractive investment to reap the job creation and investment gains that clean energy can create over the next decade and beyond,” Hamilton said. “The question for Texas policymakers is how best to develop the emerging clean energy sector of our energy economy, so that Texas remains a leader in new energy, as we have always been a leader in the production of oil and natural gas.”