To the Editor:
I’d like to comment on the March 21 story, “Fewer sales tax dollars not an issue yet.”
I recognize that there are a number of reasons why the Killeen area’s sales tax revenues have declined over the past two months, but there is one that my business recognizes each day: especially high electric bills that are eating into the family budgets of Central Texans.
We meet potential customers (at Solar CenTex) whose bills are $300, $500 and even $700 per month. An especially cold winter has forced them into a choice none of us want to make. When faced with paying an essential bill that keeps the heat and lights on, or choosing a trip to Walmart or the local restaurants, the former will win out every time.
This dilemma will get worse over the next decade. Texas electric prices rose 9 percent last year and the decade ahead promises even more turmoil for family budgets because Texas is dealing with the tightest electric generation of any place in the country.
Texas is outpacing its electricity production and each especially cold or hot day is another day where the Electric Reliability Council of Texas team that runs our grid tries to avert rolling blackouts.
Higher prices are the rule for the years ahead as Texas and its market-based electricity system work through a supply and demand issue.
Our leaders should take steps to lessen this burden on our families: demand higher levels of energy efficiency in new construction, develop a low-cost regional loan program so businesses can tap loans to make their buildings more efficient (The Texas Public Assessed Clean Energy bill passed the Texas Legislature last year; it can be a boon to our economy).
I’m partial, of course, but the time is here to consider that all new homes be built at least “solar ready” to lessen the cost of solar retrofitting.
This isn’t about causing financial costs to builders or developers —it’s about this region understanding that a major portion of its citizens’ income is relatively fixed and if we don’t guard against Texas energy inflation, our dollars will flow to the electric companies ... not our schools and roads.