Lawmakers Shouldn’t Target Renewable Energy Incentives. Look at the Big Picture.
Free Markets and Fairness Require: Keep It Fair and Study Them All.

It’s been more than a decade since Texas Comptroller Combs released the Texas Energy Report, a comprehensive look at our Texas energy industries and the incentives that support and encourage them.

Read the 2008 Texas Energy Report, especially Chapter 28 on “Government Financial Subsidies”

At that time, Combs found that 96% of state and federal subsidies for energy were directed at fossil fuels. But no one has undertaken a global analysis since then. An update is long overdue. Instead, some lawmakers in Austin want to divert attention from fossil fuel incentives by focusing on those for renewable energy, even though the federal incentives for wind and solar are scheduled to expire.

Houston Chronicle Editorial Board
Weighs In Against SB 2232
“Support Texas’ Renewable Energy Future”

Some lawmakers in Texas want to mandate that state agencies study only the federal incentives that exist for renewable energy. Those incentives are scheduled to expire, while dozens of other incentives for other forms of energy live on in perpetuity. Targeting these incentives to review is fair, albeit a waste given their scheduled demise, but it’s patently unfair to ignore the myriad incentives for energy types with which renewables are expected to compete. If a study is to be done, we have simple solution: Let’s #KeepItFair and #StudyThemAll. All subsidies, for all forms of energy.

Why Vote No on SB 2232?

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Every energy source receives some support in policy. It may be a direct subsidy, production credit, investment credit, an allowance, or some other $ incentive baked into the tax code. It’s frustrating that definitions aren’t easy. One man’s “subsidy” is another man’s “incentive.”

Other “subsidies” include liability limits, capital access through exclusive programs like master limited partnerships (MLPs), low cost leases, transportation subsidies, decommissioning/cleanup assistance, job training, R&D, marketing support, loan guarantees, defense, etc. Every energy incentive has positive attributes, and (possibly) negative aspects, but we don’t know what they are until we take a careful look. We should Study Them All.

It’s very difficult to identify all of the many ways that costs for energy producers are shifted to US taxpayers. One can rest assured that they extend far beyond the transparent wind energy production tax credit (PTC) and solar investment tax credit (ITC). Each is expiring soon.

“In general, unbiased studies are helpful in policymaking. But if we are going to study the impact of subsidies such as these two bills authorize, we should study them all, renewables and fossil fuels.”

Dr. Joshua Rhodes (University of Texas)

No one opposes studying energy incentives. Our opposition is to one-sided, biased reviews of only renewable incentives. In 2008, Comptroller Susan Combs studied them all and produced the Texas Energy Report. It reported that 96% of the state and federal energy subsidies went to fossil fuels, but her important findings haven’t been updated. It’s long overdue that they were. Let’s skip the theater, Keep It Fair, and Study Them All.

Call your Texas lawmakers. To find out who your lawmakers are, click here and look for “Texas Senate” and “Texas House.”

For example, when the federal government subsidizes Wyoming coal production, that fuel is then shipped into Texas. TX remains the number one importer of coal in the country. Obviously, a state with an infinite supply of renewable energy and nearly infinite supply of natural gas shouldn’t be relying on other states for energy supply, but the problem (a “subsidized” problem) is bigger than that. Burning coal keeps us dependent, not using our cleaner, cheaper natural gas and renewables. It means investments in our tax base that are not being made in communities. We get dirtier air and are forced use scarce water for power generation. Sounds like a subsidy we should study.

We oppose one-sided studies. They must include ALL energy subsidies.

  • Energy issues are brought forward during every session of the Legislature and, during every meeting, assertions are made by one energy source attacking another. Lawmakers are at a disadvantage because they do not have accurate research with which to guide their decision making. They need a compendium of ALL energy subsidies, who they benefit, what they cost, and how they help (or hurt) Texas.
  • Pitting energy industries against one another is counterproductive. Texas should promote all of its industries.
  • All energy types receive some sort of tax incentive and to single any one out as this bill is intellectually dishonest.
  • This bill is anti-business and wastes time and money by attacking an incentive that expires at the end of 2019. A better approach is to look at all of the incentives that taxpayers support and assess the value of each one.
  • Attacking the incentives for renewables as they expire is a publicity stunt, designed to put renewable energy in a negative light. This will be used to justify future legislative actions that will inherently bring harm to investments already made and power deals already inked.
  • This bill sets horrible precedent. Imagine what happens when other states decide to start counteracting the federal incentives for energy industries that they do not like. What happens when states decide to counteract the state subsidies that we give energy producers in Texas?
  • Groups that have incredible political power using it solely to attack renewable energy. With that power, they could immediately end the vast majority of the incentives that affect our market, and they could set an example for everyone. They could take away the incentives from their funders. They could lead by example.  They could take the log from their own eye before pointing out the sponter in mine.
  • If we want to debate “subsidies” let’s debate them all. It’s overdue. Comptroller Susan Combs’ “Energy Report” last looked at all incentives in 2008 and found that 96% of all state and federal subsidies went to fossil fuel producers. An update of her work is long overdue. 
  • Let’s have this debate in public and discuss all subsidies.

If Texas is serious about understanding the impacts of energy incentives on the Texas economy, the first step is to study them all. Lawmakers should reject one-sided, biased studies that target exclusively renewable energy, or any any energy incentive out of context. Let’s Keep It Fair and Study Them All.

For more information, contact or call 512-651-0291.

This is political advertising by The Advanced Power Alliance.