Renewable energy production (from sources such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and geothermal) is coming on strong and mainstream for both utilities and smaller applications such as homes, neighborhoods, farms and ranches. Traditional power generation (from sources such as coal, gas, and nuclear) will be an important component for our baseline energy production for many years, but forward-thinking states are adopting (or increasing) Renewable Portfolio Standards (requirements to achieve specified amounts or percentages of power from renewable sources by particular dates).
Texas is host to the annual WINDPOWER 2008 conference this week. Everything in Texas is big and this conference is no exception with over 10,000 attendees and over 750 exhibitors. As we seek to transform Texas into the new energy capital of the world, it takes a number of different constituencies coming together to transition from the traditional ways we have been creating and delivering power.
Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher came to the conference to talk about the lessons they learned in passing their recent Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, and the challenges and opportunities they face in implementing the legislation through their Public Utilities Commission.
To build consensus across multiple groups for this initiative, Fisher said the state leaders “built a very powerful coalition made up of those in the environmental and renewable energy sectors, the manufacturing sector, and small business, as well as labor.” He said that “developing the broad based coalition at the outset ” and “keeping the coalition together by regular communication” was a key component to getting the legislation passed. He also noted there was bipartisan support in the legislature, and it “couldn’t have been done without a bipartisan consensus.” One of the challenges they now face is to track and make sure the “benchmarks have teeth and are enforced.”
These initiatives bring more jobs, too. Fisher noted their “manufacturing and agricultural base, combined with their strategic location and well-built infrastructure” gives them “home court advantage when it comes to growing and attracting a renewable energy industry.”
When we bring new energy companies to Texas, it creates jobs and increases our economic diversity. At the city, county, regional, and state level, we can work together to improve our energy situation, ensuring reliable availability and affordable pricing. But, our elected leaders need to hear from us, and our government bodies need to know this is important to us.
Start local, get involved, meet with your community leaders, and start talking about how we can bring new jobs and new companies, to our region. Get to know your legislators, find out where they stand on developing renewable energy, and encourage them to bring more supportive and actionable legislation into the light of day.
By STEVE HARVEY