Legislators Push for Solar Energy in Texas

As Texas faces growing energy needs and rising unemployment, several lawmakers are looking to the sun, to begin solving some state problems.

The 81st Texas Legislature is calling for more development of solar power technology across the state.

18 bills have been introduced in both chambers and parties to push for more solar power.

"We'd have to build the manufacturing facilities as well as the supply lines of the raw materials," said Ken Starcher with the Alternative Energy Institute at West Texas A&M.

Local experts say their is an enormous potential for solar to thrive in the Panhandle.

But while some legislators call for large scale commercial projects, like wind farms, some local experts think residential projects would benefit the state more.

"One advantage to photovoltaics on homes is that you don't have to change the size of the grid," said Dave Stebbins, a solar energy professor at Amarillo College.

"Every bit of electricity made would be totally clean, no wasted water, and no pollutants," said Starcher.

One factor that has held up solar production is cost.

"There's a very difficult line in trying to find a mechanism to give benefits to the consumer, industry, residential from the state level," Starcher said.

Some of the legislation would include tax incentives and rebates, but they're going to need to be steep to maintain the viability of solar.

"Compare the government incentives for renewables and compare that to government incentives for fossil fuels. They currently outpace the incentives for renewables," said Stebbins.

The legislators still see this as a bright way to power the state, and some reports say it could create 22,00 jobs.