FORT HOOD — Alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power could turn Texas into an energy-exporting state, according to state Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple.
During a Friday tour of the Fort Hood “Phantom Solar” facility, run by Apex Clean Energy, Shine said solar farms such as the one on Fort Hood show just how important alternative energy is for both the military and Texas.
“Austin and Georgetown just recently approved solar contracts to increase their capacity, and I understand Austin expects to have 50 percent of its (electrical) needs by the end of 2020 using alternative energy,” Shine said. “Texas is No. 10 in solar power, No. 6 in wind power, No. 1 in capacity, and when you add in the fact we’re the No. 3 oil producer in the world, we’ve got a lot going for us energywise.”
Texas currently has the fourth largest number of solar power jobs in the U.S., he added.
“Solar is growing up; 10 years ago, solar was very small and you didn’t see solar farms like this around Texas,” Shine said. “Solar power in Texas now, along with wind power, has the potential to make Texas an energy-exporting state.”
Charlie Hemmeline, the executive director of the Texas Solar Power Association, said that thanks to an 88 percent drop in the cost of building solar during the last 10 years, Texas is set to take full advantage of solar power.
“Currently in development is 45,000 megawatts of solar across the state, representing over $40 billion of investment,” Hemmeline said. “From a jobs perspective, we already have 13,000 full and part-time jobs here in Texas making a real impact. Some of those are relatively new, such as roof-top installers. Many are construction, engineering and financing. We know how to build power plants here in Texas, and now we’re building them to be solar.”
Built in 2017, the 63,000-solar panel farm on West Fort Hood, combined with a 21-wind turbine facility in Floyd County near Lubbock, provides nearly 50 percent of Fort Hood’s energy needs.
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