Current pressure to clean up Texas’ air and water makes the time right for alternative energy industries to take off in a significant fashion. Conservation measures—switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, weatherization, and more efficient heating and air conditioning systems—are important first steps for government, businesses, and individuals to take. Energy conservation will reduce current energy demands, but needs to be coupled with an increase in total energy capacity to serve the needs of Texas’ growing population and economy.
To be the nation’s green energy capital, Texas must step up research into new energy technologies, expanding and creating university research laboratories that will be the best in the world. In addition, an expansion of workforce training opportunities will provide workers for the new green energy economy. Vocational school programs, properly sited, with scholarships to help students attend, will be important for turning low-income Texans into valuable skilled employees. Besides jobs at wind farms, workers will be needed for the expansion of manufacturing plants to build wind turbines.
West Texas, already a top producer of wind energy, stands poised to lead nationally in the wind industry. Designated competitive renewable energy zones (CREZ) in the area are ready for a significant increase in the number of wind farms. Most wind in the region blows at night; solar farms in the area could share the upgraded transmission lines now in development.
With a robust system of wind energy production in place, Texas will benefit, not only with increased economic prosperity, but also environmentally. Alternative energy production will facilitate the closing of coal-fired plants, greatly reducing the air and water pollution they currently cause. Additionally, a dependable source of electricity can fuel electric vehicles, providing efficient, non-polluting transportation. Texas’ position as the green energy leader will stimulate the state economy, not only with large numbers of wind energy jobs, but also with an influx of businesses attracted to a state with reliable, affordable, wind-generated electricity.