Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Solar incentives continue to spread amongst utilities in Texas

El Paso's program is scheduled to launch in April, and will extend the market transformations created by these programs all the way to the western border of the state

Update, Thursday April 8 – We contacted Larry Landaker, president of the board of the PEC, who said that energy conservation programs and renewable energy "is the next big thing, if you ask me what we are going to be tackling in the next few months . . . this is a huge priority of mine." He added that special committees of the PEC "are going to be ramping up significantly. With staff initiatives, I think it will put us in the spot we want to be."

Note: The e-mail below is from
Bill Christensen, an occasional and well informed commenter on the pec4u watchdog discussion group ( The RoundUp has posed Bill's very same question a couple of times to PEC board member Patrick Cox of Wimberley. His response has been (paraphrasing): 'Wait for the results of our Conservation and Renewable Energy Committees. It's coming.' When and if it does, it'll be a long time coming. Think about it – one day, thousands of homes and businesses feeding electricity back into PEC's power grid thus reducing the need to purchase ever more expensive power from the LCRA! Of course that would first require that the PEC pull its collective head out of that place where the sun doesn't shine, and start getting creative.

Send your comments and news tips to, to Mr. Christensen at, or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Hi y'all,

I thought this might be of interest to some of you. Why isn't PEC among those offering renewable energy incentives?? Even the investor owned utilities are!

From the March 2010 newsletter of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association:

Steve Wiese, Clean Energy Associates, reports that seven out of nine Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) in Texas are currently running solar PV programs.

"These programs, combined with programs in two of the largest municipal service territories, provide incentives to more than half of all Texas electricity customers. In addition to providing customers with an opportunity to increase their home's energy efficiency and contribute to our state's energy independence, these programs are vital in developing a successful PV (photovoltaic) industry and training Texas's workforce to compete in today's economy," said Wiese.

According to Steve, all seven programs have seen remarkable activity across the state. Oncor, which runs the largest of the IOU programs, has committed $9.8 million in incentives to date, funding 420 PV projects throughout its service territory. Over 140 companies have signed up to work with the program. 83 of these have reserved funding for projects, and 65 have completed projects.

The other utilities – Entergy, TNMP, El Paso Electric, AEP-TNC, AEP-TCC, and SWEPCO – all run two year pilot programs which are smaller in scope, but have produced considerable activity in their service areas. Entergy has committed $536,287 to 23 projects in east Texas. TNMP committed all of its $180,000 of funding for 2009 and 2010 after only 5 months of program activity. All three of AEP's programs have seen significant interest from public entities such as cities and schools due to parallel availability of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

El Paso's program is scheduled to launch in April, and will extend the market transformations created by these programs all the way to the western border of the state. "We're looking forward to another busy summer for the Texas solar PV programs," Wiese added.

Watchdog member Ric Sternberg added this:

I agree. PEC should be AT LEAST as aggressive in promoting PV solar and other such benefits to its members as are investor owned utilities.

I hope this doesn't confuse the issue but a major program to help co-ops help their members with efficiency initiatives is on the horizon. It won't cover solar or other distributed generation installations but hopefully something that addresses renewable options will follow.

The bill was introduced by Rep. James Clyburn and is co-sponsored by a bi-partisan coalition of representatives. Here's a description:

"Rural Energy Savings Program Act" – Rural electric co-ops would apply to a $4.9 billion loan program at USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to borrow money at 0% interest rate to fund local energy efficiency programs. Co-ops, in turn, would offer micro-loans to consumer residences or businesses (at up to 3%) to be repaid on their utility bills through the savings. Measures include sealing, insulation, HVAC systems, boilers, roofs and other improvements that the utility has demonstrated will produce sufficient savings."

For those of you who enjoy watching this sort of thing, here's a link to the press conference at which it was announced:

And Onward!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those of us who know Cox know that waiting for him to do something he promised he would do is an exercise in futility. He and his buddy Larry were thick with promises when they wanted to get elected. I think he, and all the board members, should donate the $40k a year they make as a Directors to a rebate fund.