Texas adds more solar panels – NBC DFW

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Not only is money coming from the state legislature but also from Washington D.C. When the CEO of ERCOT gave an update in late April, he mentioned the Inflation Reduction Act money passed by Congress is bringing more renewable energy to Texas, which will help the grid overall.

New projects are coming to Texas from the Biden Administration. Some projects will use power like $78 billion worth of semiconductor and electric facilities. Others aim to increase the use of renewable and green energy like $18 billion in clean energy manufacturing and infrastructure. Plus $49 billion in clean power according to a database from the White House.

One of those programs will get more solar panels on top of North Texas homes and businesses. Lone Star Politics got a look at how that will happen.

A class of apprentice electricians are well on their way to a profession in Grand Prairie. At the training center for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 20 more than four hundred students learn how power system work and how to install them in homes and businesses.

A group that is in their second year. In year five they’ll learn solar panels and batteries from instructor Rhett Glover.

“They had a hard time finding a job just like I did and they’re making money. It’s practically a guaranteed job for the next five years and they’re learning a trade doing it,” Glover said.

He jokes he was a “professional college student” before becoming an electrician in 2011. Now he teaches future journeymen.

“‘They fed my family and I appreciate it and if I were to do it all over again I would definitely do this right out of high school,” Glover said.

The next five years will bring a lot more work installing solar panels and batteries.

Harris County led a coalition of cities and counties from Texas and the group just received part of a $7 billion program to bring renewable energy to low-income homes. $250 million from the Environmental Protection Agency funds will go to areas in Dallas County, Tarrant County, and others. Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act and President Biden signed it into law two years ago in part to transition the country to renewable and green energy sources.

“Nationally it’s been going on for a few years but we’re not seeing it in Texas until there’s federal money funding it,” said Price Warwick III, the IBEW Local 20 President.

Warwick says some of the federal money will go the apprentices as they install solar panels in North Texas. Part of the deal for the federal money is crews have to buy parts made in America and hire local people from certified programs like the IBEW program.

“You know when that peak demand in the summer hits and communities start getting cut off, our disadvantaged communities tend to be at the top of that list on what gets cut off. It’s going to help them keep running,” said Warwick.

More energy is more energy he argues. He sees the program as helping low-income households stay online in tough times. He also sees – future jobs for his union.

“It’s going to ease demand and the grid stress by distributing generation in small bits throughout the state,” Warwick said.

While the Biden Administration is speeding up efforts for renewable energy its critics don’t like the slow down in offshore oil and gas leasing. Congressman Jake Ellzey, R – Midlothian, worries it could lead to an increase in gas prices at American pumps.

He sits on the House Appropriations Committee and argues more gas plants are needed.

“I don’t like windmills myself. They don’t provide the power that they said they would. They are not renewable and here’s why. When those blades fail and they have a shelf life, you can’t recycle them. You have to bury them. So I think a lot of this is a farce. Gas and hydrocarbons are still the way of the future until the market works itself out and so does technology that we can find better ways to do,” said Rep. Ellzey.

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