SEED Coalition,
Sustainable Energy and Economic Development

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Media: Press Release

Harnessing a Texas-Sized Payoff from Renewable Electricity

Studies Show 10% Renewable Energy Goal Would Mean Billions for Texas

August 20, 2002

Tom "Smitty" Smith 512-797-8468
Pete Altman 512-589-7879
Paul Fain 202-223-6133
Deborah Donovan 617-733-6518

AUSTIN, August 20 - Texas leaders have an opportunity to unleash the power of the Texas wind to create a new multi-billion dollar industry, according to two independent analyses released by Texas and national groups. A 10% goal for renewable energy generation in 2020 with more transmission lines to move wind energy to market would allow the industry to expand to directly employ 8,500 Texans with a payroll of $255 million. An additional 9,775 jobs would be created in supporting businesses. Wind companies would pay nearly $250 million a year in taxes and royalties by 2020.

"Texas is already emerging as a world leader in wind power, and the pollution reductions and economic benefits from clean power are good for all Texans," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, Director of Public Citizen's Texas office. "We need Texas leaders to support a strong goal for renewable energy and make sure we can get the power to market. We challenge the candidates for Governor to endorse the federal RPS goal and set one for the state that would exceed the federal standard so we can put Texans to work providing renewable energy to the rest of the nation."

The U.S. Senate passed an energy bill in April that sets a 10% goal for renewable energy generation from sources such as wind, solar and bioenergy by 2020. The House passed an energy bill earlier that doesn't have any renewable development goals. If the conference committee working on a compromise bill adopts the Senate version, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that it would create 6,600 megawatts of new development in Texas with a present value of $2.4 billion over the next 20 years. If Congress were to require all utilities to meet the 10% goal, it would create 13,000 megawatts of new renewable energy according to the Public Citizen and SEED analysis. Texas set specific goals by passing a statewide renewable energy portfolio (RPS) standard in 1999. This policy spurred Texas to lead the nation in wind development within two years. The Texas RPS is being used as a model for wind development worldwide. The Public Citizen and SEED analysis finds that this policy has met power needs and created clear economic benefits for Texas. Wind power put 2,500 Texans to work in 2001 and will pump $17 million in taxes and royalties into local economies in 2002, supporting hospitals, fire departments, water districts and local school districts.

"Since renewable energy has been a tremendous boon for the Lone Star State, Texas' six federal energy bill conferees- including Representatives Joe Barton, Ralph Hall, Larry Combest, Charlie Stenholm, Lamar Smith and Tom Delay should champion a national renewable portfolio standard," said Public Citizen's Tom "Smitty" Smith.

"Texas has the potential to generate more than six times its current electricity needs from renewable energy," said UCS Senior Analyst Deborah Donovan. "The proposed federal renewable energy standard would harness the strong winds in Texas to meet the electricity needs of nearly 2 million typical Texas homes."

"Texas' RPS has been an unqualified success ," said Smith. "Utilities that were required to buy modest amounts of renewable energy have found that wind power costs less than previously thought. So they have built over 900 megawatts of new wind power, more than twice the 400 megawatts they were required to. The cost of each new project has begun to drop as the economies of scale have kicked in."

"Wind power is bringing relief to parched economies in West Texas and creating manufacturing jobs throughout the state. Local leaders recognize the opportunities and want to see more wind power," said Peter Altman, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development, or SEED Coalition.

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