Texas Has Always Had More Sun than Oil!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
April 9, 2007

Yes, we all know that Texas is one hot place! And although we have just been through a record cold Easter, we're about to enter our "nine months of summer". In August and September when we really hit the hottest of times in the 100-plus degree days is exactly when solar energy can help us the most.

Most Texans are likely unaware that Texas net imports $32 billion worth of energy annually! We should be the masters of our own destiny in Texas and nationally by producing energy domestically.

Several developments are taking place right now that bode well or ill for us developing solar energy! A former Texas elected official used to say however, "We have to get the hogs out of the creek before we can clean up the water". Business as usual is their goal not because it is in the public interest, but because it is in their special interest or they just enjoy living in the comfort zone.

To its credit, CPS-Energy has some of the lowest energy rates in the country at about 8 cents per kilowatt hour. In contrast, some communities in Texas are paying around 19 cents! For them, solar power is even more compelling than it is in our community.

For our community however, a competitive energy price is not the only goal. Bexar County is presently careening off the cliff into "nonattainment" of the clean air standard of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Because we blew our last two years of testing to see if we met the standard, we are now in our third and final year of being tested and are in desperate need of a really low score to avoid nonattainment.

Recently Sun Power, a subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor achieved an increase from 14% efficiency to around 20%, a major accomplishment considering how little advancements have been made lately in efficiency. And this will not be the last advancement in the near future.

On the local front CPS-Energy should provide solar energy rebates for thermal (hot water) and photovoltaic (electricity). A fifty percent rebate would do a great deal to jump start San Antonio and Bexar County into the "renewable energy Spindletop" it can be!

At the State level, passage of H.B. 3693 by Bexar County State Representative Joe Straus could go a long way toward advancing solar energy with much needed improvements in the "net metering" standards used throughout the State. Net metering means spinning excess energy generated at homes and businesses and being paid by the utility company. Facilitating this process through this legislation would be a huge contribution to Texas' development of this obvious and plentiful source of energy.

For other bills and their descriptions and status in the Legislature, go to my website at bexar.org, click Commissioner's Court and Precinct Four. Then look for Solar Energy Legislation. With less than two months of the Session remaining, your voice for advancement could be critical in more ways than one!

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