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Coerced Energy Efficiency in Texas: Government Conservationism Isn’t Market Conservation

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#robertmichaels">Robert Michaels</a> -- March 22, 2010

[Editor note: Texas has been a hotbed for energy mandates and environmental pressure groups ever since Enron successfully lobbied for the state to enact a strong renewable energy mandate in 1999. This mandate was expanded in 2005, and the a second expansion (with a solar carve-out) almost passed in the last session. Currently, environmental pressure groups are working to toughen an energy efficiency mandate enacted in the same 1999 law and extended in 2007.]

The Texas Public Utility Commission (TPUC) is in the midst of a rulemaking that would expand Texas’s energy efficiency program. Questions of administrative overreach aside (the state legislature rejected the program last session), a sober look at costs versus benefits indicates it is a very questionable deal for ratepayers.

Some will argue that more government-directed conservation (or conservationism) is a good thing.…