(Austin) At a press event at the Texas State Capitol today, Representative Rafael Anchia, Representative Mark Strama, other Legislators plus consumer, public health, and environmental groups reported on the progress and importance of passing clean power, green jobs bills in the 81st Texas State Legislature and creating additional successful energy efficiency programs for the state.
Most notably, Representative Anchia’s House Bill 280 sets far-reaching goals for energy efficiency programs that will reduce peak electricity demand by one percent by 2016 and two percent by 2021.
Representative Rafael Anchia spoke about his bill, "This session we're building on the foundation that Speaker Straus created in the last session of the legislature. House Bill 280 and others this session that focus on energy efficiency are simply about being smart in the way we use energy in Texas."
Last Session, now-Speaker Joe Straus passed major Energy Efficiency legislation that required a study, now complete, by the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The PUC study (by ITRON) showed the great potential for savings from Energy Efficiency programs in Texas. This Spring, State Legislators filed an unprecedented number of bills that would begin to fulfill the energy efficiency potential outlined by the PUC report and will take advantage of federal stimulus funding.
Legislators from the new Energy Resources Sub-Committee on Energy Efficiency & Renewables expect that House Bill 280 by Representative Rafael Anchia will pass out of the full Committee this week.
At the same time, the Senate Business and Commerce Committee recently approved Senate Bill 546 by Senator Fraser, which is similar to Anchia’s HB 280 and requires more aggressive energy efficiency goals for utilities.
Other positive energy efficiency measures in the Texas State Legislature include:
Senator Averitt’s Senate Bill 16 establishing new 2009 statewide building codes, energy efficient appliance standards and an Energy Star appliance rebate program;
Representative Strama’s House Bill 1391 allows cities and counties to create a loan fund for home owners and businesses to retrofit their homes or businesses to be more energy efficient or to add renewable energy systems such as solar or geothermal power.
Both the House and Senate versions of the State Budget bill include $327 million in stimulus funds for weatherization programs and strict reporting requirements to make sure the money will lead to job creation, energy savings and pollution averted.
"This is a critical time to act, because Texas needs to be prepared to receive and put to maximum good use, federal stimulus dollars. These types of innovative energy efficiency measures are exactly the kind of one-time stimulus expenditures that lead to long-term savings, create jobs, and position Texas to be the nation's leader in creating the new, green economy," said Representative Anchia.
Environmental groups including Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Public Citizen, SEED, and Environment Texas applaud this progress toward powerful energy efficiency legislation.
"Energy efficiency is one of the few tools we have that both saves money and reduces air pollution," said Kate Robertson, Energy Efficiency Specialist with the Environmental Defense Fund. "We applaud our Legislators for taking this opportunity to make smart policy."
At today’s press event, caulk-gun carrying, green hard hat-wearing students of the so and so showed the need for the green jobs that such energy efficiency legislation will bring to Texas.
“These are the steps that our Legislators can take for clean power, green jobs programs that are good for Texas families,” said Cyrus Reed with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Passing new building codes, appliance standards and raising the energy efficiency goal to one percent by the end of 2015 and two percent by the end of 2020 will save money, create jobs and reduce pollution.”
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