The Texas legislature recently considered a bill to heavily restrict the generation of wind and solar energy, University of Texas at Austin research scientist Joshua D. Rhodes revealed in a tweet.
The bill in question was Texas SB 624, co-sponsored by Senators Lois Kolkhorst, Mayes Middleton, and Bryan Hughes. It would have established new permit requirements for affordable “renewable energy” — not for dirty energy sources, such as coal. In a win for clean energy, it failed to get out of committee.
According to the latest version of the bill (as of late May), any Texas resident with a large solar or wind system who wanted to connect to the grid would have needed a permit. The lengthy permitting process would have required a public meeting to allow comments, multiple surveys and assessments, and a website with information about the project.
SB 624 would also have required that wind turbines be placed a whole 3,000 feet — more than half a mile — away from the property line, except with the permission of neighboring property owners.
As written, the bill applied to facilities with a capacity of 10 megawatts or higher to connect “with a transmission facility.” That wouldn’t include small residential systems, which are usually between one and four kilowatts (0.001 to 0.004 megawatts), according to Yes Energy Solutions.
However, it would have applied to the many wind farms set up by rural property owners across Texas, Rhodes said.
“Our current and expected fleet of renewables are set to pay landowners tens of billions of dollars over their lifetimes, but those Texans might get less if their neighbors protest,” he said in a comment.
Power Up Texas said the new bill would not only have harmed Texas landowners financially but would also have made the energy grid less stable and raise the cost of electricity for everyone.
According to state legislators, the bill’s purpose was to protect wildlife, water, and land from the effects of energy generation. But it’s telling that the proposed law applied only to nonpolluting wind and solar, rather than heavily polluting energy sources like coal and oil that have a much harsher impact on our air and our planet.
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