Keeping the lights on in Texas
Big Thicket Messenger - November 2007
by Governor Rick Perry
What is the best new energy source to supplement natural gas and oil in the 21st century? We don’t know for sure, but as a national leader in renewable energy, Texas is working hard to find out. Building on a strong history of energy production, companies and agencies across our state and taking cues from American’s most daring inventors to find the next sources of energy to help power our great state, and our great nation.
The captains of American industry move great ideas from concept to production. Thomas Edison perfected the light bulb in the 19th century. In the 20th century, Henry Ford made cars more affordable with his innovations in production processes. And in our lifetime, NASA engineers sent a man to the moon. The next frontier is energy. In this century, we will move new energy technology from the laboratory to the electrical wall socket and the interstate highway.
There is no question that the demand for energy in our state is escalating. Texas is attracting new business and citizens to the state daily. In fact, our population is expected to double in the next 30 years. We cannot afford to replicate the rolling blackouts experienced on the west coast that might leave business, industry and our citizens without power. One thousand newcomers make Texas their new home every day, meaning we will need to increase electricity generation nearly 50% by 2030. To keep pace with the growing demand, we must diversify our energy sources.
This diversity will enable us to manage emissions and provide adequate power for our state. Today, residential electric customers can benefit from market competition by visiting www.PowerToChoose .com and choosing which electricity company will get their energy dollar.
Fossil fuels remain essential to our energy profile, but they should be supplemented by wind, water, solar and bio and nuclear energy. A balanced portfolio will provide energy stability and a prosperous Texas economy in the decades to come.
We have already surpassed California as the nation’s leading producer of wind energy. Our energy dollars and unique environment will continue to lure ‘clean’ energy companies and energy pioneers in Texas. West Texas, with its ample share of wind and sunshine, is drawing the attention of innovators, including the Solar Summit that was held in El Paso last August.
The bioenergy business is taking off across the country. While some states look to corn-based ethanol as a biofuel solution, that approach has negative effects on the food producers in our state. Instead we should focus our efforts on the energy potential in non-food crops. I recently awarded a $5 million grant through the Texas Emergency Technology Fund to underwrite efforts at Texas A&M University to create clean and efficient bioenergy sources.
Advances in technology have also made nuclear power safer and cleaner. Our state is currently home to four nuclear generation facilities, but more are needed to help satisfy our growing energy needs. Nuclear energy is relatively inexpensive to operate, but plants are expensive and can take over a decade to build and bring onto the grid. We must be careful not to increase those costs with needless regulation.
Exelon Nuclear, Amarillo Power, TXU and NRG Energy are exploring the notion of bringing new nuclear generation capabilities to Texas and I hope they succeed. If all goes well, Exelon, TXU and NRG could be generating additional power by 2015.
I also believe coal must play a role in our future energy portfolio, generating power as cleanly as technology will allow. Coal plants are the leading source of energy in the United States. And they are becoming cleaner. Texas is aggressively bidding to host FutureGen, the world’s first clean coal project. We have put our money where our mouth is with an offer of $240 million in franchise tax credits. We want this plant in Texas.
When God gave mankind dominion over the earth, we all became its stewards. That is why Texas will continue to pioneer innovative technologies while balancing the use of traditional energy sources to boost our state’s economy. Ours is a beautiful state with a strong workforce and energy innovators who will continue working to keep the lights on in Texas.