TEXAS: 2023 SPEER Legislative Priorities
As the leading electric producer and consumer in the nation, it is time for Texas to lead the nation in implementing more energy efficiency measures to combat extreme weather emergencies, whether it be hurricanes and extreme heat in the summer or a polar vortex in the winter. The 88th Texas Legislature, beginning January 2023, will have the opportunity to address many needed reforms to assure Texans that their leaders will enact policies that keep the lights on. SPEER believes that actions like increasing performance for the energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) goals, making demand response (DR) programs work for all customer classes, and updating outdated building codes to prepare Texans for more extreme weather will allow the state to continue its unprecedented population growth. SPEER’s legislative priorities are broken down below.
What are our top priorities?
- EERS Goal Improved Performance
- Workforce Development
- Updated Building Codes
- DR Residential Incentives
- Transmission Buildout
- Climate Action
→ EERS Goal Improved Performance: Texas was the first state to establish an EERS in the nation. While innovative in 1999, Texas’ current goal of 0.4% of peak demand ranks dead last among states with energy efficiency goals. SPEER supports efforts to increase energy efficiency solutions to reduce total demand across the state.
- Improving the performance of Texas EERS goals is not just achievable, but necessary. Increasing the goal incrementally, revising program definitions and timelines, and consideration of multiyear planning could yield significant improvements to energy efficiency programming while reducing total demand.
→ Appropriations: Spending for energy efficiency programs provided through the state’s investor-owned utilities has stagnated over the last ten years, roughly around $130M per year. With recent federal legislation, Texas stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars for efficiency retrofits, low-income programs, and climate preparedness. SPEER supports efforts to pursue additional federal funding that may act as a boost to further deployment of energy efficiency technologies.
→ Equity: The current statute relating to energy efficiency goals requires a minimum of 10% of the utilities energy efficiency program budget to be spent on low-income customers. These funds are important to help ease the disproportionate energy burden low-income Texans face due to inconsistent building codes and efficiency planning. SPEER supports actions to increase total energy efficiency spending for low-income households.
- Increased energy efficiency spending for low-income Texans will promote equity. Low-income Texans have a three times higher energy burden than the state average.
→ Workforce Development: Energy sector job growth outpaces the national average. New energy efficiency jobs in the state represent over 11% of the national energy efficiency jobs created last year. In order to keep Texas an attractive location for energy sector jobs, SPEER supports continued workforce development with specific focus on veterans, and historically underutilized and disadvantaged businesses.
→ Updated Building Codes: Two thirds of Texas homes are at least 20 years old and as a result these older homes with less efficient building envelopes increase load size on the grid. SPEER supports updating outdated statewide building codes and efficient appliances.
- Updating building codes in conjunction with increased energy efficiency program goals will act as a multiplier for the state to achieve significant total demand reductions and stabilize the electricity grid.
→ DR Residential Incentives: While energy efficiency reduces total demand, DR helps alleviate stress to the grid during peak hours. When energy conservation calls are made large commercial and industrial customer classes are compensated for their efforts to reduce demand while residential customers are not. SPEER supports establishing a program to ensure residents that take part in DR programs are compensated for their participation.
- Compensating residential customers for their efforts in DR will incentivize more Texans to conserve energy when needed most.
→ Transmission Buildout: As the PUCT and ERCOT work through implementation of SB 1281 and a pilot program for DERs, it is increasingly important to have a forward-looking transmission planning process to reduce congestion and increase reliability to the Grid. SPEER supports continued efforts to review and enhance transmission infrastructure planning.
→ Climate Action: Extreme weather events are not just more frequent, but commonplace in Texas. According to the State Climatologist, Texas will experience 50% more flooding, and severe droughts, as well as twice as many 100-degree days by 2036. SPEER supports developing a climate action plan to address these situations through forward-looking mitigation efforts.
- Establishing a plan to make the state more resilient in the face of increased extreme weather will enable Texas to continue to be the desirable location for people and business to grow.