by Rev. Dr. Daniel F. Flores and Rev. Mitch Hescox
There’s an old saying, “Everything’s Big in Texas.” That’s literally true when it comes to energy production, consumption, and pollution. Texas is the number one energy producing state in the country and generates almost twice as much electricity as its nearest competitor. Texas is the biggest consumer of energy and the biggest user of coal. All of this makes Texas the biggest polluter, imperiling our children. The good news is that a new survey by the Texas Clean Energy Coalition finds that 85% of all Texans and 78% of Republicans favor clean energy to generate electricity. And in another show of support, almost 50,000 Texas pro-life Christians have signed the Pro Life Clean Energy Campaign’s petition calling for 100% clean energy by 2030.
The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex (DFW), Houston, and El Paso are among the most polluted areas in the U.S. Over 500,000 Texas children already suffer from asthma, and the polluted air makes their lives worse; nearly 140,000 live in DFW. Tiny pieces of soot (PM2.5) in our air leads to pre-term births, and 35% of pre-term babies die. Methane, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), and other chemicals leaking from oil and natural production/distribution are associated with increased smog or ozone levels as well as birth defects and low birth-weight infants. In addition, many of Texas’s lakes and streams are so filled with mercury from coal fired generating stations that fish consumption advisories fill pages on the Texas Department of State Health Services’ website.
We have a biblical responsibility to defend our children and at the same time create sustainable prosperity powered by clean energy. Our values are powering a big push for pure air, clean water, healthy children, and energy freedom.
The movement towards 100% clean energy isn’t being sustained by just the faithful.
Clean Energy is already big in Texas. Texas is the number one producer of clean wind electricity, continually setting new records, including meeting 45% of the state’s needs. Texas also has the largest solar energy potential, which could, in theory, supply electricity for 12.9 billion people, double the world’s current population.
Here are steps to take to help make Texas the #1 Clean Energy state:
Adopt Net Metering Across Texas.
With Net Metering, when your solar panels produce more electricity than you need your meter literally spins backwards. What you don’t use you sell back to your utility, and this should be at the same retail rate with no fees. Unfortunately, this type of net metering is not available across Texas.
Extend the PACE program to individual homeowners
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) empowers property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for up to 100% of all costs for the design and installation of water conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable distributed electricity. PACE’s success for commercial and non-profits (including faith communities) must be provided for individual homeowners as well.
Strengthen the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)
A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a policy where electric utilities are required to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar. Texas is the #1 wind producing state because of its RPS policy, enacted in 1999 when George W. Bush was governor. But until recently the RPS hasn’t benefited solar. Achieving our goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030 will require strengthening the RPS considerably, ensuring that solar potential is fully realized.
A Stronger Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS)
Texas was the first state to adopt an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard or EERS. Unfortunately, its success has been hobbled by some of the lowest efficiency targets in the country and by allowing large consumers to opt out; both must change.
Every child deserves clean air, pure water, and the benefits of a healthy economy, which can be achieved with 100% clean electricity by 2030. Let’s make it happen and build a clean energy economy that benefits all Texans.
The Rev. Dr. Daniel F. Flores, Ph.D., is president of The Hispanic Wesleyan Society in Fort Worth, Texas. The Rev. Mitch Hescox is president of the Evangelical Environmental Network in New Freedom, PAa.