Texas, home to much of the U.S. oil and gas industry, has become a clean energy superpower. The state already leads the nation in wind-power generation, and solar is booming there as well. Last year, Texas generated more electricity from renewable energy sources than from coal.

Now, as the coronavirus pandemic delivers a blow to the state’s struggling oil and gas industry, wind and solar production remain on a trajectory for continued record growth. The rise of renewable energy isn’t the only notable change taking place in Texas; the state’s politics appear to be shifting too. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is polling very close to President Trump, who swept the state in 2016. 

How did Texas become a clean-energy leader? What are the politics behind this rise? And what are the politics in Texas likely to be more broadly going forward? Could a growing green economy turn this red state blue?

Political Climate speaks to Pat Wood, former head of the Texas Public Utility Commission named by then-Governor George W. Bush and former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where he led FERC’s responses to the 2000-2001 California energy crisis and the 2003 Northeastern power blackout. Wood compares the Texas and California energy systems and weighs in on the Golden State's recent blackouts.

Finally, co-hosts Brandon Hurlbut and Shane Skelton make a new election bet.

Recommended reading: 

  • Dallas Observer: Texas Produced More Energy from Renewable Sources Than Coal Last Year
  • GTM: Texas Is the Center of the Global Corporate Renewable Energy Market
  • Post and Courier: All Electricity Customers Can Benefit From competition
  • Reuters: As Trump Falters, Democrats and Biden Eye an Elusive Prize: Texas
  • GTM: California’s Shift From Natural Gas to Solar Is Playing a Role in Rolling Blackouts

Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. This episode is brought to you by Lyft. Listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Play or wherever you get podcasts.