"We're ranching electricity now!"

March 18th, 2009

Last weekend I visited a ranch in the Hill Country between Kerrville and Fredericksburg. The rancher showed me little green and orange flags marking out where power lines are about to be built across a corner of his land. “We’re going to be ranching electricity, now!” he proclaimed — allowing power lines to be built across your land comes with some financial compensation.

Then today, a press release came out from the companies that will be building power lines, transmitting wind power generated in West Texas to major urban centers like Austin. The release says that workers in Haltom City will assemble the metal lattices for the transmission towers from steel produced by workers in Jewett. Rep. Granger was on hand for the announcement in Fort Worth:

“This is a homegrown project that will provide good jobs here in Texas. Best of all, everything about the project is designed with environmental concerns in mind. Every transmission tower on this project will represent another step on the way to energy independence.”

If the steel is manufactured in a way that doesn’t pollute too much, this is an example of the kinds of jobs and the kinds of economic activity that will be created as Texas becomes a renewable energy economy. Here now is what some of the ‘green jobs’ of the future will look like: ranchers harvesting a new kind of “crop,” steelworkers building new infrastructure, workers in different parts of Texas all playing a part.

This is a real world example leaders and legislators can keep in mind right now as they consider proposals to support our renewable energy industries, to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources, and to improve air quality – and thereby public health generally – by reducing emissions from polluting industries.