by Kevin Brannon and Matt Welch
Successful clean energy efforts in Texas have largely been and will continue to be the result of strong conservative Republican leadership. In 1999, while still Governor of Texas, George W. Bush signed legislation that deregulated the state’s power market and set the state on a path to becoming a leader in generating electricity from carbon-free electricity. That policy has now become a national model and roadmap for economic success.
In 2005, under the leadership of then Governor and now Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the Texas Legislature raised the state’s renewable energy portfolio standards and goals. Conservative leaders in Texas put out the welcome sign to the clean energy industry and within four years the marketplace responded overwhelmingly. Not resting on their laurels, Republican leaders in Texas led the effort to improve Texas energy infrastructure by establishing the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission project to enhance our grid’s reliability and to tap the vast wind and solar resources of our state and connect to areas of high demand like our urban centers and the booming Permian Basin.
In Texas today, conservatives are leading the way on energy policy, offering solutions that encourage innovation, stimulate economic development, and enhance the growth of clean energy sources. During clean energy week last year, Governor Greg Abbott said, “The clean energy sector is a growing part of the economy and has been a key driver of economic growth in Texas in recent years, with scores of new jobs being added by the industry. We must harness the power of Texas entrepreneurs and small businesses to assert American energy leadership and dominance in the global marketplace and to assure low-cost reliable energy here at home.”
Conservative energy policies are the best way to allow free markets to balance supply and demand, ensure reliable and competitively priced energy for the future, and create incentives for responsible stewardship of the nation’s resources and environment. Conservatives respect private property rights for all energy resources and encourage landowners to harness the energy resources be they traditional fuels or emerging energy types like wind and solar.
In contrast, the proposed massive “Green New Deal,” would wreck the national economy and erode our personal freedoms in the process. Draconian, unworkable proposals such as these underscore the need for conservatives to lead on clean energy. When we fail to offer constructive solutions to our challenges, it makes big-government outcomes more likely.
The emergence of cost-competitive clean energy technologies presents conservatives with a great opportunity to further advance the energy economy along free-market lines. Wind and solar projects in Texas are built and owned by private companies who make long-term economic investments in our rural communities. and private individuals increasingly are investing in their own solar generation and electricity storage resources. Those investments make our agriculture and commodity-based communities stronger through economic diversification, and those investments drive further innovation. By encouraging competition and reducing burdensome government regulations, prices will drop, choices will increase, and additional rapid innovation will follow.
Don’t take our word for it. Just read these words delivered by President Ronald Reagan at the United Nations on World Environment Day in 1986. Reagan said, “A superior natural resources policy is one that favors those institutions by which new resources are substituted for old ones: individual enterprise, guided by the price signals of the market, and technological advances that conserve resources and permit them to be used more efficiently.”
Despite our well-deserved reputation for oil, Texas is also a leader in clean energy production. The state is the largest producer of wind energy in the United States, producing about 18.5 percent of its electricity from wind. It should be no surprise, then, that Texans are increasingly recognizing clean energy as the incredible business and economic opportunity it is.
In a recent poll conducted by Conservative Texans for Energy Innovation, 70 percent of Texas Republicans and Independents say more use of clean energy in Texas will help the economy and create jobs — and they’re right. By 2030, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, our state’s wind capacity will nearly double.
Because of abundant natural resources – and our resilient workforce with a history of producing them – Texas has always been a leader in energy. By boldly continuing our prominent role in clean, renewable energy, the Lone Star State will remain a national and international leader in technology, innovation, and energy.
Brannon and Welch are veteran Republican political consultants and serve as advisors to Conservative Texans for Energy Innovation. @cnsrvtxns4nrg