State Rep. Jared Patterson disagreed with his Republican colleague that Texas should keep supporting the booming renewable energy industry here.
Rep. John Smithee was arguing on the House floor in early May that certain solar and wind farms should be eligible for school tax breaks. A similar program the state offered for the past 20 years drew renewable energy projects to rural parts of Texas, including Smithee’s Amarillo district.
Patterson, whose district north of Dallas as of late last year had no wind turbines and barely any solar generation, shot back: Renewable power companies get enough help from federal tax credits already.
“Are you saying that we need to add more incentives for wind and solar for them to build?” Patterson asked in disbelief.
After decades of support for renewable energy made Texas able to produce more wind power than any other state, its political leaders have turned against wind and solar. This year, they’re pushing through legislation to prop up fossil fuel-burning power plants instead.
What they decide could have lasting consequences by raising the cost of electricity and spurring the construction of gas-powered plants that will produce carbon emissions for decades.
“Right now, the wind blows strongly against renewables, and that’s where we are,” said Bill Miller, a longtime lobbyist in Austin.