Poll: Texans support expanding renewable energy over fossil fuels

Poll: Texans support expanding renewable energy over fossil fuels
Amazon Wind Farm Texas (JORDAN STEAD / Amazon)

Two years after Winter Storm Uri left millions in Texas without power for days, a new poll finds that a majority of Texans support expanding renewable energy over fossil fuels in the U.S.

The poll was conducted by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston.

It found that a majority of Texans support expanding U.S. reliance on solar power (64%), geothermal (59%), and wind (57%). Only 41% preferred expanding U.S. reliance on onshore conventional oil and gas.

Texans also overwhelmingly supported net-metering legislation (90%) that would allow home and business owners to sell extra power they generate back to the grid at retail electricity rates. Tax incentives that support homeowners and businesses to install rooftop solar panels and battery storage received 82% support in the poll.

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Respondents who supported increasing reliance on solar power included 80% of people who identified as being Democrats and 50% who identified as being Republicans. The net-metering legislation had even broader support – 93% among Democrats and 90% among Republicans.

The online survey asked 1,200 Texans ages 18 and older about legislation to be considered during the 2023 legislative session. It was conducted between Jan. 9 and Jan. 19 in English and Spanish. The margin of error was reported to be +/-2.8%.

The joint report issued by FERC and NERC cited freezing and natural gas fuel supply issues as the two largest causes for the disaster.

The poll was conducted just as Texas electric grid regulators were finalizing a controversial market redesign plan.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas approved a Performance Credit Mechanism, which Texas Power Podcast host Doug Lewin described as “a capacity market by another acronym. (See the Texas Power Podcast episode: Don’t California my Texas (electricity market) for a deep-dive on the market redesign effort).

Under the PCM, generators would be awarded performance credits based on how much capacity they make available during some as-of-yet-undefined number of hours of electricity scarcity. Load-serving entities—retail electric providers, co-ops, and municipal utilities especially—would be obligated to buy those credits from generators, generally passing costs on to customers.

The consulting firm E3 says in the report this system has never been used anywhere in the world. It would also add—in an average year, without extreme weather incidents like Winter Storm Uri—at least $460 million in additional capacity payments.

The market redesign effort has been used by some Texas lawmakers as an opportunity to bash non-dispatchable renewable energy resources, like wind and solar, though much of the pain caused by Winter Storm Uri can be pinned on unavailable natural gas supplies.