by Jerome a Paris
Wed May 26th, 2010 at 10:49:00 AM EST
DALLAS — As the U.S. Gulf Coast battled a massive oil spill, former President George W. Bush told the American Wind Energy Association conference here today, "It's in our economic interests that we diversify away from oil."
"It's in our environmental interest," the onetime Midland oilman added. "And, finally, it's in our national security interest."
Bush, speaking at the Dallas Convention Center, said he believes that his grandchildren "will be driving electric cars, powered primarily by renewable sources of energy."
Bush Blows Away Conference
For a few minutes in his Tuesday morning speech, George W. Bush was governor of Texas again, reenacting how the foundations were laid to make the state the far-and-away leader in wind energy in the United States.
Bush described how he directed utility commissioner Pat Wood in the late 1990s that a new energy source should be developed.
"I said to Pat Wood, `there's plenty of wind in Texas, let's get some,'" Bush said. And with his famous self-deprecating humor, added, "I know that didn't sound very Shakespearean."
As he concluded his remarks, Bush noted "We said we were going to get 2,000 megawatts in 10 years but we hand no way of knowing we would reach 10,000 megawatts in 11 years."
Texas wind is a true success story. The State recently reached an impressive landmark, with more than 10 GW installed - 15 years ahead of schedule:
Texas Meets Renewable Energy Goals 15 Years Early
Texas has reached its goal of having 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity this year, 15 years earlier than scheduled, thanks to an ample supply of West Texas wind.
According to a report (.doc) filed with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) Friday, the Lonestar State has 10,367 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, and generated 21,594,278 megawatt-hours of clean electricity in 2009.
Ninety-nine percent of those megawatts come from wind power. West Texas has some of the country's best wind resources, and has experienced explosive wind power development since ERCOT's renewable energy program was signed into law by then-Governor George W. Bush in 1999.
Under the Texas system, each megawatt-hour of renewable energy generated earns a renewable energy credit (a REC) which can be sold separate from the energy. Most utilities in the state are required to buy and use ("retire") a certain number of such RECs each year.
But what has been surprising about the Texas experiment is that, because that *Texas wind has proved so inexpensive, demand has exceeded what the law requires*, fueling a voluntary market in renewable energy credits that is now bigger than the mandated market.
Cheap, plentiful energy. Imagine if George W. Bush had been in a position to replicate such a dazzling success on a larger scale, to push for smart energy policies that provide for green, domestic, economic electricity...
Full disclosure: I advise wind developers on their financing needs.
See also the rest of my series on wind power