Glory Be! An Energy Commission for Texas!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
November 4, 2004

In the process of perusing the paper as I often do, I was looking for news on energy and glory be!  Governor Rick Perry appointed a 22-member Texas Energy Planning Council.  It has eight recommendations for the Texas Legislature, which is set to meet this January.  The plan of the Council is to reorganize state government oversight and regulation of energy and establish, drum roll…The Texas Energy Commission!

I am compelled to submit to you the contents of my news release at a poorly attended news conference on July 9, 2002.  "It is high time for Texas to continue its historic leadership in the field of energy with an Energy Commission!  Not since Bexar County and other urban counties abolished the old office of Inspector of Hides and Animals has there been such a need for a change.  Today however, I seek not to abolish the Railroad Commission, but to simplify and modernize the name of this Commission that today primarily deals with energy.  The public as well as the world, needs an easy to identify agency that deals with all aspects of Texas energy.

This is especially so in light of the recent enactment of Senate Bill 5.  Thanks to the Legislature, this much-needed bill will take Texas to a much more energy efficient place in terms of its use of energy.  This law mandates a 5% per year annual reduction of energy use for the next five years.  There are roughly four thousand local units of government in the 38 County target area that must comply with Senate Bill 5.This requires a user-friendly agency, not a snipe hunt for help within our State's bureaucracy!                                                           

At present, Texas energy policy is diffused into several different agencies, beginning with the Texas Railroad Commission.  Governor James Stephen Hogg established this agency in 1891 in an effort to regulate railroads. Although its importance in the regulation of railroads has waned, its importance to the state and nation today rests principally upon its authority over the energy industry.  Economic realities today require Texas to take a higher profile as well as a broader view of our role in the area of energy use and development.

The State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) is the office responsible for administering Senate Bill 5.  The mission of the State Energy Conservation Office is to promote and provide for the efficient use of energy, while protecting human health and safety, and the environment.  It should not be difficult to identify where energy policy is made and direction given in this State.  Yet, despite its performance, one really needs everything but a hunting license to find out where this agency is located.  And that is because incredibly enough; it is buried in the bowels of the State Comptroller's Office! 

With the explosion of various alternative fuels development, Texas should move forward as a leader.  Right now, the nation is abuzz with not only solar, wind, and geothermal energy but of the potential for the hydrogen fuel cell's development. Texas should seek to regain its position as a world energy leader, but it must act boldly and decisively. 

The times since the Railroad Commission's creation in 1892 have changed and will continue to change mightily. So must Texas' approach to energy. 

In the spirit of the 101st anniversary of Spindletop, Texas should once again lead the nation and the world on matters pertaining to energy.  Texas cannot light a candle only to place it under a bushel basket by obscuring the great work of the Railroad Commission in the area of energy!  Consolidating its energy mission along with other energy initiatives under one agency, The Texas Energy Commission, would be a long overdue step toward radiating to all the strength of our Texas energy leadership!" 

Well, all I can say is hallelujah!

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