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E-M:/ utility restructuring

Enviro-Mich message from "Harris, Craig" <Craig.Harris@ssc.msu.edu>

since utility restructuring in michigan is currently being debated, i
thought this report from texas might be of interest . . . from the 9/99 edf
letter (electronic edition)



A new law restructuring Texas's electric utility industry
contains key EDF-backed provisions for cleaning up the air to
benefit all Texans. The legislation, signed into law by
Governor George W. Bush in June, could serve as a model for
other states and for Congress to address air pollution
through electric utility restructuring.
   "If the 'oil and gas state' can support renewable energy,
so can the rest of the country," said Mark MacLeod, director
of the state energy program for EDF's Texas office. MacLeod
led EDF's long efforts with state legislators to craft a bill
that will introduce competition to the electric industry
while securing measures to clean up Texas air. "The
environmental aspects of this bill surpassed all our
   With support from Public Citizen and Sustainable Energy
and Economic Development, a Texas grassroots group, EDF
designed a three-year strategy to reduce emissions from
"grandfathered" power plants--plants that have been exempted
from state emissions limits since 1971--and to promote
solutions to global warming. The success in obtaining
pollution reductions from grandfathered plants is especially
noteworthy, because competing legislative proposals to cut
emissions from these facilities would have relied on an
unenforceable, voluntary approach.
   The new law will reduce emissions from more than 130
grandfathered Texas power plants by over 110,000 tons
annually. Most important, emissions from these plants will be
permanently capped, even if their electricity production
increases. Within four years, the bill requires a 50%
reduction in nitrogen oxides and a 25% reduction in sulfur
oxides, emissions that cause both human health problems and
acid rain.

            Wind Power To Increase 10-Fold
The new law also requires consistent development of renewable
energy sources in Texas. It sets a mandatory schedule
requiring 2000 megawatts of new renewable capacity to be
phased in within 10 years. This will increase the amount of
wind energy available in Texas to 10 times its current level,
the largest renewable energy growth mandated in any state to
   The law also ensures that energy efficiency programs will
be available to all Texans. Each electric company must offer
incentives designed to reduce annual growth in electricity
demand by at least 10%. The law also requires the Public
Utility Commission to establish rules to disclose the
environmental impacts of utility deregulation.
   "The law that the governor signed is far better than the
two bills introduced in the House and Senate in January,"
MacLeod said. "This is mainly due to Representative Steve
Wolens, the House sponsor of the bill, who spent hours with
EDF staff discussing the environmental complexities of
deregulation. This result shows that, with the cooperation of
a committed legislator and his staff, grassroots pressure,
and environmental expertise, the political system can and
does work to protect the environment."

[Caption: Mark MacLeod (left) and Texas state representative
Steve Wolens worked to reduce emissions from "grandfathered"
power plants such as this one near downtown Austin.]


craig k harris
department of sociology
michigan state university
429b berkey hall
east lansing  michigan  48824-1111
tel:  517-355-5048
fax:  517-432-2856

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