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March 18, 2010: In This Issue. . .

  • Overwhelming Support for Raising Energy Efficiency Goals
    The majority of comments submitted by environmental groups, utilities, retail electric providers, and consumer groups supported proposed rules published by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to raise the energy efficiency goal to one percent of total peak demand by the end of 2014. While virtually all of the comments supported the more aggressive goals, there were significant differences among respondents on whether or not utilities should be able to earn higher performance bonuses should they exceed the goals, whether a lost revenue adjustment should be included in the rulemaking and what kind of cap should be implemented to keep the costs of the energy efficiency programs from rising too sharply, impacting residential and commercial customers. Read the full story...
  • Compact Commission Proposes Rules Allowing for Importation of Radioactive Waste to West Texas - Comments Due April 12
    On a 6-2 vote, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission approved draft rules for publication that would allow approval of radioactive waste imports into West Texas on a case-by-case basis as well as exports from Texas if the currently proposed site is unable to take the wastes. Members of the public now have until April 12th to submit comments on the proposed rules to the Compact Commission. Read the full story...
  • Judges Support San Saba Citizens on Locating Wind Transmission Lines
    In the ongoing legal and political debate about transmission lines intended to bring new wind-powered electricity from West Texas to East Texas, two Administrative Law Judges(ALJs) found this month that the best location for transmission lines scheduled between the cities of Brown and Newton for the investor-owned wire company ONCOR would be north of the Colorado River along proposed “Route 140.” The Proposal for Decision (PFD) of ALJs Travis Vickery and Hunter Burkhalter now goes to the three commissioners of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for an expected final decision on April 1st, although appeals are still possible. Read the full story...
  • Weatherization Monies Finally Moving in Texas
    At the meeting of the Board of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs on March 11, the agency staff found that the 32 weatherization service providers and 12 cities that received federal “stimulus” dollars are finally actually doing what they are supposed to – albeit slowly -- and weatherizing homes belonging to Texans at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. In addition, the TDHCA Board approved publishing new rules that will allow the agency to move money from one service provider to another if they fail to meet targets agreed to in their plans. Finally, the Board also approved an updated plan for how they will spend both the stimulus monies that arrived in 2009 and additional grants in 2010 which should allow for even more weatherization. Read the full story...
  • Austin Approves Development Agreement for Chinese Solar Manufacturer
    On a 7-0 vote, the Austin City Council last week approved a 10-year economic development agreement with Yingli, a Chinese manufacturer of solar panels. Austin is competing with Phoenix, which is also offering a series of economic incentives to lure the manufacturer to open its first plant in the US. Yingli's parent company is the largest vertically integrated manufacturer of crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels in the word. Read the full story...

The State Capitol E-Report is a monthly electronic update from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club reporting on Texas environmental policy issues of statewide interest. Contact us at: lonestar.chapter@sierraclub.org ...Header photo by Susan Heller
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