A boost for wind energy

March 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Chapter 313 is a crucial tool to make sure Texas remains a leader in wind energy generation.

That’s the portion of the Texas tax code that allows school districts to provide tax incentives for economic development in their boundaries. It expires at the end of 2014.

The current Legislature should extend it.

According to the Texas comptroller, of the 128 active projects participating in Chapter 313 through August 2012, about 60 percent are projects involving electricity generation through wind. And this accounts for about a quarter of the $62.4 billion estimated investment occurring.

Critics have pointed negatively to the ability of school districts to waive job creation requirements, particularly for wind projects. And the comptroller says that of the 6,994 jobs estimated to have occurred through 2011, only about 9 percent — 666 — is attributable to wind projects.

A job is a job but the wind industry credibly contends that this is an undercount. A report — “American Wind Farms: Breaking Down the Benefits from Planning to Production” — from the Natural Resources Defense Council says that even one new 250-megawatt wind farm will create 1,079 jobs. That’s far more than the 666 jobs that the comptroller — using the Legislature’s formula — says have been created by the 76 active wind projects benefiting from Chapter 313.

By all means, tweak Chapter 313 if the ability of districts to waive job requirements is a concern. But also making sense is determining if all jobs involved are counted.

Texas leads the nation in wind energy production ($24 billion invested in 56 Texas counties, amounting to more than 12,000 mw) and these projects provide some 9 percent of the state’s energy needs.

The Legislature will likely be considering a handful of bills on this issue. Chapter 313 provides a boost. Renew it.

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