Texas’ Public Utility Commission is considering a mandate on diversification of energy production, the net effect of which will be increased costs and lower consumption. Analyst Robert Michaels at MasterResource points out that this will stifle economic growth and could constitute a gross overstepping of the Commission’s role.
Recently environmentalists including Kate Galbraith have taken to the virtual pages of the Texas Tribune and the New York Times to spur the PUC’s expansion efforts. The plan being advocated seeks to increase solar energy production to 500 megawatts in 4 years. Currently the state produces 1% of that amount at less than 7 megawatts.
If solar panels were a viable source of affordable energy our production number would be higher. The fact that there is no market is lost on these folks. Michael Webber of The University of Texas Austin notes, “We’re much more likely to build a manufacturing industry for solar if we have a market for solar here.”
Even Galbraith is forced to admit that solar energy is currently a very expensive technology in her Tribune post. That does not stop environmentalists, unwilling to be concerned by costs to families and business, from clamoring for further mandates.
What is worse than this haphazard and irresponsible advocacy is that Barry Smitherman (chair of the commission) and the PUC are not simply proposing a mandate, but are endeavoring to enforce the recommendation. In taking these actions the agency will be forcing policy down our throats without a vote or voice from Texans. This represents power being stripped from voters, and should be stopped.
This power trip may seem like an efficient way of doing things for the people at the PUC but it does not empower Texans.