Texas is still a little frustrated that it’s not the biggest state anymore, nor home to the United States’ biggest oil reserves. Alaska can claim both those titles, but it can’t best the Lone Star state in one important way, renewable resources. Texas was a big player in the development of its wind resources in the late 1990s. Though it’s known for its big wind, the state also has abundant solar resources for photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power installations.
To help Texans adopt renewables, the state offers numerous incentives, like property tax rebates and performance-based incentives. While other states have adopted legislation requiring utilities to offer net metering to their residents, utilities in Texas have the option to offer net metering, but are not mandated to offer it.
When it comes to rebates, however, power suppliers in Texas offer significant rebates to property owners in their service districts, sometimes better rebates than found in other states. And there’s a smorgasbord of utilities in Texas that are offering incentives to their customers.
When George W. Bush was still the Governor of Texas and before Enron became infamous for its accounting practices, Texas was investing heavily in renewable energy, particularly wind. The investments made it the nation’s leader in wind. However, with the Enron scandal, and Bush’s election to the presidency. the state’s investment in wind and other renewables experienced a drought.
More recently, the state has resumed its interest in promoting renewables. As of 2010, it has a renewable portfolio standard, which requires 10,000 megawatts of renewables installed throughout the state by 2025. At least 500 MWs coming from non-wind sources. It will amount to about 10 percent of the state’s current energy use.
With the state’s once large oil reserves and still large natural gas reserves, going renewable might not look all that palatable in terms of energy independence. But, because of the state’s vast geographic landscape and its relatively low population density, having local sources of power generation could help cut down on expensive new transmission lines in the state. Onsite generation will also reduce the distance coal, oil or natural gas needs to travel. So, someday soon you may see cowboys out rustling PV panels and solar concentrators instead of cattle.