LUBBOCK - Texas figures to lead the nation in renewable energy production by 2025 and stands to gain $22.8 billion in annual economic activity and 173,400 jobs overall, according to a study backed by a group that supports alternative sources of power.

The state’s energy production, which would supply about 4 percent of the U.S. needs in 2025, would come from biofuels, wind and solar power. Texas already leads the nation in wind energy production.

Texas’ projections come from a two-year study by the University of Tennessee Department of Agricultural Economics.

The report, which looked at the 48 contiguous states, was commissioned by the National 25x’25 Alliance, a group working toward having 25 percent of the country’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025.

If the report’s estimates pan out, the economic impact nationwide in 2025 will be $700 billion annually and create 5.1 million jobs, mostly in rural areas.

The study’s conclusions assume that U.S. farm programs in place now continue until 2025.

“It’s certainly an ambitious goal” for Texas, said Travis Brown, co-chair of the Texas State 25x’25 Alliance. “Texas stands to play the major role in making this happen and benefiting from it. We also want an energy future that protects our environment and ensures a vibrant economy.”

Texas’ $22.8 billion in economic activity ranks fifth behind Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.

Read Smith, co-chair of the national alliance, said in a conference calling announcing Texas’ projections that the U.S. could reduce consumption of gasoline by 59 billion gallons and eliminate 1 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually by 2025.

“We are guided by a very simple yet bold vision and that is by 2025, America’s farms, ranches and forest will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States while still providing abundant, safe and affordable food, feed and fiber,” Smith said.

The Texas Farm Bureau supports the alliance’s mission, said Ned Meister, a bureau spokesman.

“Obviously, we see renewable energy as an important economic boost to agriculture and rural communities of Texas,” he said.

The national initiative began about three years ago and now includes about 500 business, energy and environment interests that back the use of renewable resources.

Twenty-one governors and 11 state legislatures have endorsed the effort, but the group is still trying to get the support of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature.

Russel Smith, executive director of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association, said it’s time to stop depending on finite resources for energy.

“Texas can do this because we must,” he said. “We have no choice.”

The release of Texas’ role comes as Congress is crafting an energy bill.

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed an energy bill that includes a requirement to produce 36 billion gallons a year of ethanol, as a substitute for gasoline, by 2022, a sevenfold increase over production in 2006.

Ethanol would be made from corn and cellulosic sources such as prairie grass and wood chips.

The measure now awaits action by the House, which was expected to take it up soon. But attempts to combine the two bills and send legislation to President Bush probably won’t be possible until later this year.

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