TREAD ADVOCATES FOR A RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCESS
With 1,000 people moving to Texas each day, we are seeing land fragmentation at the rate of 700 acres a day. Additionally, there is a need to address infrastructure needs to accommodate that growth – this includes real estate development, water infrastructure and reliable energy.
TREAD Coalition is engaging with stakeholders to address how the state can meet the needs of Texas’ growing population by looking at best practices, streamlining processes and evaluating potential policy changes to protect the landowner, the land and the state’s natural resources.
As renewable energy has expanded its footprint, landowners and interested parties have expressed concerns about the placement and lack of regulations associated with these projects. There are more than 379 solar projects on the books with ERCOT with a potential installed capacity of over 86,000 MWs – those projects will likely cover 500,000-860,000 acres of land. These projects largely impact rural communities including their property values, their roads, their farmland, and their wildlife. At half a million acres, the impact of these projects will be much greater than most realize.
There is a strong need for regulatory authority at the Public Utilities Commission over the installation and operation of wind and solar power facilities for the following reasons:
- Permitting requirements exist for gas transportation, broadband, transmission lines and other regulated industries. These requirements range from officing and reporting requirements, municipal and county charges for road damages, annual facility fees, siting, local input, and risk-based analysis for installation and removal. At this time, none of these requirements exist at the state level for wind and solar projects.
- The landowner interest for these projects has been greatly undervalued as this emerging market has developed. These interests include the need for capacity evaluations and decommissioning plans – some improvements were made over the last 4 years through legislation; however, there is still a concern that the final decommissioning will be left to a private landowner.
- In many cases, adjacent landowners, wildlife and water interests have not been considered in the development of wind and solar. With no siting, setbacks or impact studies, TREAD and other stakeholder groups continue to hear of the negative impact to surrounding properties on a weekly basis, as working and recreational lands lose property values and potential use due to wind and solar developments.
SB 624 (Kolkhorst) & HB 3707 (Patterson):
- Standard public notice and permitting provisions similar to that of transmission lines
- Permitting requirements including:
- Public internet website
- Setbacks of 1,000 feet of the property line
- Signage at the entrance of facilities
- An environmental impact statement in coordination with TPWD and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension
- Reporting requirements for size and location of projects and any substantive changes made to the project
- An annual impact fee including funding for a state cleanup fund
- A decommissioning plan in compliance with Chapter 301 and 302, Utilities Code
PIPELINE ROUTING REFORM
In Texas, oil and gas companies choose intrastate pipeline routes with no oversight from the public, elected officials or regulatory body. They are the only private entities that are granted the ability to use eminent domain to take private property without public input.
TREAD is advocating for an oil and gas pipeline routing process similar to the one used by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for energy transmission lines. PUC’s process includes public environment and safety studies, a meaningful public input mechanism, and a third party to make final decisions. The PUC has successfully used this process for many years, to fairly and transparently decide routing for power lines.
TREAD understands the importance of the oil & gas industry in Texas and the urgency around getting product to the market. We need a process that balances the industry with private property rights, local economies, public safety and natural resources.
- The average size of a pipeline project depends on the width and length depending on the product and its destination
- Gathering lines transport gasses and liquids from the commodity’s source – like rock formations located far below the drilling site – to a processing facility, refinery or a transmission line
- Transmission lines transport natural gas from a gathering, processing or storage facility to a processing or storage facility, large volume customer, or distribution system.
- Interstate pipelines are those that serve two or more U.S. states, and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
- Intrastate pipelines are those that serve within a state and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the RRC
- Permitting is through the RRC and a company files a T4 permit with the proposed route map
- The types of pipelines that request T4 permits are 1) gas utility, 2) common carrier, and 3) private
- Easement negotiation depends on if a company strikes an agreement with the landowner or the easement goes through the condemnation process
- total intrastate pipeline miles in Texas (regulated and non-regulated) – 437,747