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Relating to authorizing certain alternative fuel programs as eligible for local government energy savings performance contracts.
No fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 1184, if passed, would make a small change to the Local Government Code (Section 302.001) by adding another activity to those which are eligible for “energy savings performance contracts”, namely alternative fuel programs for local government vehicle fleets.
The contracts in question can be entered into by local governments to provide for financing of environmental projects (in the form of physical improvements of infrastructure and other physical assets) which are guaranteed to produce future savings in energy or water use. These savings must be measurable and verifiable by such means as billing revenues or meter accuracy.
Though efforts to conserve energy and water are indeed laudable goals we feel that “energy savings performance contacts” are unnecessary. If a given improvement will indeed produce future savings, then the program is already economically viable. For example, if the first two improvements listed in the statute, installation of insulation and storm windows, are likely to “pay for themselves” then the existence of energy saving contracts is redundant. If, on the other hand, such improvements do not yield a real benefit then the program is merely a waste of money. In either case the program is inherently unnecessary. Though energy and water conservation is an agreeable goal this program represents an unnecessary function of government because it circumvents the free market.
That being said, this bill does not create the program; the program already exists in statute. However, this bill expands the program in two ways. First, by adding the "utility cost savings" expansion to the definition of "energy savings performance contract" the bill makes the existing statute overly broad.
Secondly, the alternative fuel vehicles portion of the bill paves the way for local governments to pick winners and losers in the marketplace by favoring vehicles based on their fuel type. These vehicles tend to be more expensive than traditional fuel vehicles which will lead, in addition to manipulating the marketplace, to local governments spending more on their new vehicles at the expense of taxpayers.
Because this bill, in the course of expanding an existing program, would further hinder free markets and expand the scope of government, we oppose HB 1184.