Twenty years ago, the Rio Grande Valley looked nothing like it does today. These last two decades have brought an explosion of growth which has been accompanied by new neighbors, new jobs, and new opportunities to establish the RGV as a leader in innovation. But, as the region continues to grow, so too do our energy needs.

My goal, as the new President/CEO of the RGV Partnership, is that in 20 years from now, our region will look unrecognizable as a result of sustained progress and development in clean energy sources throughout the region.

In order to keep growing, we must preserve what makes our region special while looking to the future for new ways to power our cities. This means investing in all-of-the-above energy sources and promoting responsible policy solutions that will continue the trajectory of expansion into the years to come.

Apart from the environmental benefits of renewable energy, people are waking up to the economic benefits that these resources bring. Clean energy technologies are becoming more efficient and economically viable for businesses of all sizes. With so much untapped potential in clean energy generation, we have the chance to strengthen our grid while helping to combat the changing climate. 

Today, clean energy no longer just takes the form of solar panels and wind turbines. The RGV will soon be blessed with one of the largest liquified natural gas (LNG) processing facilities in the nation located in the Port of Brownsville. This facility will use carbon capture technology to reduce emissions while producing millions of metric tons of intensive LNG for export to foreign markets meaning that countries around the world will be looking to us for power.

Large scale projects that prioritize emission reduction are popping up all over the region and they represent a paradigm shift on how America is investing in the future. The federal government, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, has stepped up and made an all-the-above strategy a viable model for supplying energy in the 21st century. The law is already allocating funds to construct hydrogen hubs across the state, EV stations, which help the RGV’s most famous part-time resident Elon Musk, and plugging abandoned wells in the region.

Arguably the most critical funding from the law is the nearly $173 million that has been distributed this year for grid weatherization alongside an additional $30.3 million to help prevent outages across the state. By using these funds to modernize the electrical grid, we ensure that all Texans have access to secure and reliable power while continuing to attract world class companies.

Unfortunately, as many in the state know, there is one significant downside to all this progress: property taxes. Businesses from all sectors are paying more every year at an unsustainable rate. We are looking to the state to address this burden. Until recently, there was some relief granted by the Chapter 313 tax abatement program which promoted development while keeping tax rates at a reasonable level. But this program expires later this year leaving many in limbo.

Many are uncertain if the state legislature will pass an updated version and if that bill will exclude renewable energy projects. We in the RGV rely on the energy that these projects provide and if future development is jeopardized, we will lose out on both a reliable energy source and a bourgeoning portion of our economy. Now is the time to invest in projects that bring jobs and energy to areas of the state both rural and urban alike. 

Looking to the future of the Rio Grande Valley, there are innumerable opportunities to continue to establish the region as a leader and an economic engine. Energy requirements across the nation are rising and the RGV is uniquely positioned to provide the county with the power it needs. Which is why supporting an all-the-above strategy is the best path forward to ensure that we remain prosperous. 

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Daniel Silva, president and CEO of The Rio Grande Valley Partnership. RGVP is the Valley’s regional chamber of commerce. The above column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International Service with the permission of the author. Silva can be reached by email via: [email protected]

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