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Energy Experts: Deploying More Solar in Texas Will Create New Jobs, Ensure Grid Reliability

WASHINGTON, DC – In a new report, energy experts say Texas can help ensure the reliability of its electricity supply by deploying more solar energy, especially during the coming summer months. In recent years, Texas summers have been marked by extreme heat and drought. Wednesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) as well as the semiannual update to its long-term Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) report.  

Five months ago, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) concluded that Texas is not maintaining adequate electric reserves to meet the state’s growing demand, and highlighted ERCOT as the only region in North America that is not doing so.  NERC underscored the need for increased electric generation capacity in Texas to provide reliable power to quickly meet and sustain growing demand, and pressed ERCOT to develop an action plan to mitigate the risk to the state.   

Based on the findings in its SARA and CDR, ERCOT announced yesterday that it will initiate conservation alerts or power watches some days this summer, especially during the hours of peak electric usage.  In addition, while ERCOT’s planning reserve margin is expected to be higher than its target, load growth forecasts remain uncertain in the longer term.  

“Texas’ potential for solar power, combined with solar energy’s low water usage and peak generation, makes it a perfect fit for the state’s current and long‐term electricity needs.,” said Carrie Cullen Hitt, senior vice president of state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).  “Installing more solar in Texas would entice more solar companies to do business in Texas, and further fuel the Texas economy by creating jobs and increasing investment in the state.”

According to SEIA & GTM Research’s U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2012 Year-in-Review report, Texas ranks 13th in the U.S. for cumulative installed solar capacity. The state has 121 megawatts (MW) of solar with an additional 400 MW under contract.  Texas is home to 260 solar companies, including 21 manufacturing facilities that produce goods used throughout the solar supply chain.

“Texas faces the dual challenges of inadequate energy infrastructure and an economy still in recovery. The sun rises every morning, ready to tackle those challenges head on. Pro-business policies can help Texans take advantage of the state’s vast solar power potential and drive investment in a competitive local job-creating industry,” noted Adam Browning, executive director at the Vote Solar Initiative, a national solar advocacy group.

The U.S. State Solar Jobs Map, released earlier this month by The Solar Foundation, shows the Texas solar industry employs 3,200 workers. With its vast acres of usable land, Texas has great potential – more than twice that of any other state – to increase its rank as one of the most significant solar states.

About SEIA®:
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA and its 1,000 member companies are building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. www.seia.org

About Vote Solar:
The Vote Solar Initiative (Vote Solar) is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream. Since 2002 Vote Solar has engaged in state, local and federal campaigns to remove regulatory barriers and implement the key policies needed to bring solar to scale. www.votesolar.org

Background Materials:
- Electric Reliability Council of Texas Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy Report, May 1, 2013: http://www.ercot.com/content/news/presentations/2013/SARA-Summer2013.xls
- Electric Reliability Council of Texas Capacity, Demand and Reserves Report, May 1, 2013: http://www.ercot.com/content/news/presentations/2013/CapacityDemandandReserveReport-May2013.pdf
- The Solar Foundation’s State Solar Jobs Map: www.solarstates.org
- The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2012: www.thesolarfoundation.org/research/national-solar-jobs-census-2012
- SEIA: Texas Solar Policy: http://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/texas
- U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2012 Year in Review: www.seia.org/smi

Media Contacts:
Jamie Nolan, jnolan@seia.org, 202.556.2886
Ken Johnson, kjohnson@seia.org, 202.556.2885

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