May 7, 2023
Latest updates on clean energy legislation in the
88th Texas legislative session
There are a number of clean energy bills making their way through the current Texas legislative session. Here's the latest update on the three bills that TXSES has been keeping an eye on.

HB 3010 by Rep. Zwiener (D-45) requiring municipal/county governments to use SolarApp+ (or another online program with similar capabilities) to streamline the solar permitting process, is currently stalled. Referred to House State Affairs committee on March 14, it never had a hearing. Efforts to insert the language of HB 3010 into SB 2127 (Sen. Brandon Creighton [R-4]), a bill designed to limit the legislative autonomy of municipal/county governments from passing policies that contradict state law, were unsuccessful. Despite this, staffers for Creighton voiced some support for HB 3010 and have been willing to help identify another bill to which HB 3010 could be attached. PDF.

HB 4455 by Rep. DeAyala (R-133), amends Sec. 202.010 of the Texas Property Code changing the requirement from 10% to a 25% increase in energy production if the solar energy device is located in an area not designated by the property owner’s association, was referred to House Business and Industry committee on March 21. The bill was never set for hearing. The bill would have restricted homeowners from installing solar where they wanted. At this time, TXSES has not identified any attempts to attach the language of the bill into another bill. PDF

SB 2257 Sen. Cesar Blanco (D-29) & HB 4542 Rep. Joseph Moody (D-78)
SB 2257 and its House Companion HB 4542 appear unlikely to make it out of their respective committees (Senate Business and Commerce and House State Affairs respectively). The bills would have required electric utility providers (municipal utilities, co-ops, and retail electric providers) to use a net-metering buyback plan for homeowners with excess generation to interconnect to the grid. The bill’s ultimate impact however would have been minor, as it only would have applied to areas outside of ERCOT (<10%). PDF

The Texas Legislature meets in odd-numbered years for 140 days. Sine Die, the last day of the 88th Legislative Session, is May 29. To understand how the legislature works and how bills become law, click here.
By Patrice 'Pete' Parsons, TXSES Executive Director

On May 4th, I attended the Public Utility Commission’s (PUCT) distributed energy resources (DER) workshop Docket 54233 as it considers updating DER interconnection standards and DER technical standards. The goal of the workshop was to get feedback from interested parties like TXSES, other non-profits and utilities.

Currently, PUCT staff recommends that all DERs in Texas be subject to uniform and defined interconnection standards and technical standards that will enable maximum DER development and provide necessary protections to maintain reliability.
State interconnection standards govern the process for clean energy systems to connect to the grid. If the process is slow, expensive, and/or unpredictable, it can impede investment and prevent a more rapid shift to clean energy, not to mention adding costs to the project since time equals money. Earlier this year, TXSES submitted comments recommending that the PUC leave the current rules for 255.211 and 25.212 in place and not make a single rule for both.
Platinum Business Member Ohm Analytics recently shared select data for Texas permits issued for distributed solar installations for 2022-2023. According to Ohm, Q1 2023 was characterized by a marked downturn in annualized growth across most southern markets, including key solar states Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Texas.
Speeding up solar permitting is critical to our nation's clean energy goals. SolarAPP+ standardizes AHJ permitting for most residential rooftop PV systems. The platform allows PV contractors to upload system specs, have those specs automatically reviewed for code compliance, and obtain instant approval for code-compliant systems. It also generates checklists for building inspectors to confirm that installed systems match preapproved designs. The software is freely available to AHJs and is supported by administrative fees paid by installers.

Thirty-one communities, including Houston, have either launched or are piloting SolarAPP+, growing from 13 communities at the end of 2021, with nearly 90 communities testing or preparing to pilot the tool.
Breaking state and national clean energy headlines
The Texas Energy and Power Newsletter 5/5/23
Texans are expected to consume a record amount of electricity this summer, forcing the state’s power grid to rely on wind farms and solar plants for the first time to meet peak demand during the season. “The Texas grid faces a new reality,” Peter Lake, who heads the state regulator that oversees electric utilities, told reporters on a conference call. “We will be relying on renewables to keep the lights on.”
Bloomberg 5/3/23
Supporters say the future of that is in doubt, as Texas Republicans push bills to exclude wind and solar from key state tax credits. "If there is a proposal for a new economic development program, if it has wind and solar, I'm not just going to vote no… I’m going to do everything I can to kill it," said Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola). 4/28/23

Panelists Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill.; Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and now chief regulatory officer at Voltus; and former FERC chairman Neil Chatterjee, each said they view utility monopolies and other barriers to competition in the energy industry as a hindrance to decarbonization. Chatterjee said monopoly utilities lack an incentive to embrace innovations even when doing so would benefit the utility or its customers. He said their focus has to be on protecting the monopoly and not “ceding ground” — a structure Wellinghoff described as “archaic.”
Utility Dive 4/27/23
On April 20, staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas endorsed a reliability standard framework proposed by ERCOT, the state’s grid operator, that agrees with the bulk of stakeholder comments in support of including multiple metrics in the standard.
Utility Dive 4/25/23
In all, $52 million will be distributed across 19 selected projects to strengthen the domestic solar supply chain, while $30 million will go to technologies for integrating solar energy. These efforts will span research, development, and demonstration to aid American manufacturing, create American-made solar technologies, promote cheaper and more efficient solar cells, and recycle solar panels.
Daily Energy Insider 4/21/23
Significant transmission deployment is needed by 2030 in the Great Plains, Midwest, and Texas but the largest benefits will come from increasing interregional transmission, the DOE said in its report.
Reuters 4/21/23
A $100 million, 100-megawatt battery storage plant geared to charge as many as 50,000 homes during a power outage is set to open off about 6 acres of farmland near Valley International Airport. 4/20/23

Recycling advocates in the US say increased reuse of valuable materials, like silver and copper, would help boost the circular economy, in which waste and pollution are reduced by constantly reusing materials. According to a 2021 report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), recycling PV panels could also cut the risk of landfills leaking toxins into the environment; increase the stability of a supply chain that is largely dependent on imports from Southeast Asia; lower the cost of raw materials to solar and other types of manufacturers; and expand market opportunities for US recyclers. SolarCycle is building a power plant for its Texas factory that will use refurbished modules.
Mother Jones 4/18/23

The flat, open, sunny roofs of medium and large warehouses and distribution centers are perfect locations for solar panels. The United States has more than 450,000 such buildings, with almost 16.4 billion cumulative square feet of rooftop space – about twice the area of the entire city of Memphis, Tennessee. The rooftops of American warehouses built before 2019 have the potential to generate 185.6 terawatt-hours (TWh) of solar electricity each year, enough to power almost 19.4 million average homes. California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Georgia have the largest warehouse solar generation potential.
There's still time to grab early bird rates for SOLAR 2023: Transforming the Energy Landscape for All! It's an all-star lineup of keynoters, speakers and sessions. Besides, who doesn't love Boulder in August? 😎 Deadline is May 15 for early bird rates. Register now!!
About TXSES: A membership-based non-profit 501(c)(3) organization for nearly 40 years, TXSES’s unique niche is exemplified in our well-established local chapters in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio. Having boots on the ground in these major metropolitan cities, which represent nearly a quarter of Texas’s 29 million citizens, enables our gifted, dedicated members to disseminate fact-based, relevant solar information to all Texans.
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