According to the new law, existing projects could be removed retroactively if new permit requirements are not made. New solar and wind farms would have to be approved by the Texas Public Utilities, but would face annual fees, strict investment requirements and more.
The Texas State Senate has voted in favor of SB 624, which could impose significant permit restrictions and fines on solar and wind energy projects. The bill is now going to the state house for approval.
Texas is the nation’s leading developer of wind power and is soon to become the number one U.S. solar state, leapfrogging California. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expects the state to add 36 GW of solar power over the next five years, building on the 16 GW active so far, making it the country’s shining example of harnessing solar energy.
This growth boom is happening just as the $369 billion spending package of the US Inflation Reduction Act is being implemented and put into effect. The law further catalyzes the energy transition towards carbon-free electricity production.
The Advanced Power Alliance estimates that in 2024 the production of renewable energy Electric Reliability Council of Texas deliver $6 billion net savings in system operating costs and more than 18,000 MW of reliable capacity. However, state legislators have targeted the industry despite the economic boom it has brought with it. Texas lawmakers showed their support SB 624 at the end of April.
The law separates solar and wind farms by requiring them to be licensed by the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC), but leaves fossil fuels out of the requirement. Governor Greg Abbottwhich has long shown an interest in fossil fuels, has appointed all PUC members who would now serve as gatekeepers for any renewable energy projects.
In addition, SB 624 imposes a new annual fee to be paid by renewable energy developers. It would also require a permit from developers whenever significant changes need to be made to existing projects. According to the law, a new environmental impact assessment should be made for every new project.
The law jeopardizes existing renewable energy projects by retroactively applying permit requirements to these sites. It gives the commission the power to enter project sites and remove installed clean energy capacity if it does not meet newly established stricter permits.
“The tough proposal would violate Texans’ private property rights and diminish the value of properties that have been denied the ability to develop the energy resources on their land,” the Advanced Power Alliance said in a statement. “The bill will raise the price of energy for every Texan and jeopardize every power purchase agreement (PPA) with business customers.”