Texas could be a renewable energy leader, says former Energy secretary

Source: E&E • Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Houston has the potential to be the nation’s leader in a much-needed renewable energy future, former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson told a group of officials and business leaders while speaking in the city Thursday.

The meeting was one of several public gatherings Richardson is holding with city leaders across the country in an effort to highlight the need for greater investment in renewable energy.

“Our objective is to build support for climate change,” Richardson, who also served as New Mexico governor, said in an interview after the meeting.

Texas led the country in new wind capacity last year, adding 1,826 megawatts — twice as much as California, which came in second — according to an annual Department of Energy report issued earlier this week. Solar power, while less developed in Texas, also had the largest rate of growth last year, increasing by 265 percent to 133,642 megawatt-hours, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

“Houston has done a very good job in this arena,” Richardson said. “If Texas takes the baton to lead on climate change and renewable energy — as a state that has oil and gas, that has renewable energy, and has been a leader in wind and solar — it is going to be huge.”

The Houston city government announced in June a huge renewable energy deal with Reliant Energy to supply about half the city’s anticipated electricity demand for the next two years.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that you guys have taken up the challenge of creating the clean energy future. I think this is the state that could end up leading the country,” Richardson said.

Richardson acknowledged the creativity of Texans such as T. Boone Pickens in envisioning how renewable energy could be combined with fossil fuels as an initial bridge toward a carbon-free future, and he said proposals such as building transmission lines in west Texas in anticipation of more wind capacity represent the kind of planning he hopes will be replicated throughout the country (Emily Pickrell, Fuel Fix, Aug. 8)