March 31, 2008

From the desk of Rep. Allen Vaught

Energy has generated a large amount of press recently, since climate change, high energy costs, and pollution are of great concern to many Texans. To address these matters, the Texas legislature is working to improve energy efficiency in our state. Increased efficiency reduces energy usage, ultimately lowering both energy costs and pollution levels.
Tax Free Weekend for certain Energy Efficient Products
Passage of House Bill 3693 creates a weekend where state and local sales and use taxes are exempt for many energy efficient products. The 2008 Energy Star sales tax holiday occurs on Memorial Day weekend, beginning Saturday, May 24 and ending Monday, May 26.
The products qualifying for the tax exemption are:
• air conditioners priced under $6,000 (room and central units)
• clothes washers (but not clothes dryers)
• ceiling fans
• dehumidifiers
• dishwashers
• light bulbs (incandescent and fluorescent)
• programmable thermostats
• refrigerators priced under $2,000
All qualifying products will display the Energy Star logo. Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. To receive an Energy Star rating, a product must meet strict energy efficiency guidelines.
A tax exemption certificate is not required and there is no limit on them number of products that can be purchased during this sales tax holiday. Internet and catalog purchases are also eligible. Internet and catalog items must be paid for and delivered or paid for and immediately shipped during the exemption period.
Electricity Deregulation
On January 1, 2002, the Texas electric market was deregulated in an effort to lower costs and give consumers greater choice in determining their electric provider. Deregulation allows for greater competition in the market. This benefits consumers by allowing them to choose among many Retail Electric Providers (REPs). Since deregulation in 2002, 85% of households have switched electric providers.
An education program, Texas Electric Choice Education Program, has been established by the state to help educate consumers on their electricity options. The program has a website ( that compares the features and benefits of REPs and electricity options to allow consumers to make an informed choice. The website also explains the switching process and provides a set of questions to help determine if switching is right for a household.
Energy Efficiency Programs
The Texas Electric Choice Act requires energy companies to reduce the amount of electricity they are distributing through energy efficiency measures. The mandates to lower electricity usage are intended to offset the need to build additional infrastructure in the state. To promote this reduction in distribution, energy companies receive funds from the Retail Electric Providers to provide energy efficiency programs at low or no cost to their customers.
There are many different service providers to select from to participate in the energy efficiency program. The efficiency service providers for our area are listed here:; and more information about efficiency programs may be accessed at
Dallas City Council to Review “Green Building” Ordinance
Buildings use more than 70% of the electricity generated across the nation. Ensuring that our structures become increasingly energy efficient is a fundamental step in controlling our energy demands and maintaining our environment. At the April 9th Dallas City Council meeting, the council will consider a new “green building” ordinance for the City of Dallas. The ordinance requires new construction to use less water and power to conserve vital resources.
If you have questions about the energy efficiency programs discussed in this article, or any legislation from the 80th session, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 214-370-8305.

Source: Texas Electric Choice