Texas manufacturers revisiting wind and solar power

Texas manufacturing companies are finding more and more incentives to explore wind and solar power. As capital costs decrease, it's become harder for businesses to ignore the benefits of installing solar panels or wind turbines to defray the cost of fossil fuels and electricity. Harnessing the free, natural elements of the Lone Star State can work in concert with conventional energy sources, presenting a win-win for the environment and bottom lines. 

Experts are calling this the "new Texas blend" of fuel economy, as electric companies begin providing incentives to consumers who install wind or solar technology to supplement the power grid. "Blend" is a keyword, as advocates against clean energy once looked at green technologies as an all-or-nothing proposition, abolishing the old model and forcing businesses and consumers "off the grid." Today, more opportunities exist for entities to effectively have it both ways, and retail electric providers are adapting to the market. 

"We are aware of REPs that are investigating the potential of creating virtual utilities – utilities 'constructed' not of bricks and mortar, but of aggregated small, dispersed generators," said Russel Smith, executive director of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA). "We believe that change in utility structures is inevitable; we just don't know what form or how long it will take."

Subscribers to the "Texas blend" have the failsafe of a traditional electricity grid, as well as the savings and diminished carbon footprint of clean energy. The standard challenges—what if there's not enough wind or sun in a collection period?—are met by "firming power" from the grid. These topics and more will be addressed at Texas Renewables 2014, a Dallas conference whose theme is "Shaping Texas' Evolving Energy Market." Between November 3-6, analysts and businesspeople will make assessments and projections for the future of energy diversity in Texas.