Bridge City, Texas - Sierra Club and Port Arthur Community Action Network (PACAN) are urging Entergy Texas to think beyond its limited proposal to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) by also establishing a community solar program that would actually invest in local residents and jobs.
Entergy, a utilities company with almost 3 million customers in Texas and other Southern states, is seeking permission from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to allow customers to match their monthly electricity usage with RECs, which represent electricity generated from renewable sources. As both organizations state in their comments to the PUCT, RECs “incentivize the use of renewable energy” but do not require Entergy to reduce its fossil fuel use. Also, because RECs can be purchased from any market, they do not guarantee that renewable energy will be developed anywhere near the customers’ communities. Entergy should instead supplement the proposal to include plans for local investments in solar energy, storage, and customer-sited solar programs that can better reduce climate emissions while providing more direct local benefits.
“With over a billion dollars in earnings, Entergy should do more when it comes to renewable energy,” said Emma Pabst, a campaign representative with Sierra Club. “Entergy and its customers would be well served by more meaningful investment in local solar energy projects.”
Community solar projects offer unique advantages because customers can sign up to own or lease a portion of a solar power facility in or near their community. In Entergy’s Texas territory, this includes Bridge City, where the company wants to build a new fracked gas power plant that would emit about 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year – equal to some of the major, climate-harming coal plants.
“If I am paying an extra fee to support renewable energy on my electric bill, I want to know that the money is going to be invested here,” said Ellen Buchanan with Sierra Club’s Golden Triangle Group. “Renewable energy credits are a good first step, but we just don’t know what energy projects they’re investing in. Establishing a community solar program would ensure that we can feel the benefits of solar, from new jobs to cleaner air, right here at home.”
“My community in Port Arthur breathes the toxic emissions from fossil-fueled facilities every day,” said John Beard Jr., a Port Arthur, Texas, resident and Chairman and CEO of the Port Arthur Community Action Network. “While I'm glad that Entergy wants to support more renewable energy, RECs simply won't stop my neighbors and I from suffering the negative health effects of breathing toxic pollution. This proposed plant will release more carbon into an already saturated, polluted airshed; that is unacceptable.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.