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UTILITY NEWS ROUND-UP

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San Angelo Standard-Times: Cheaper electricity dooms two coal plants in Texas

Oct. 22 — Alex Mills is President of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. The opinions expressed are solely of the author.

— San Angelo Standard-Times

 

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Don’t dig before you know where gas, utility lines are located

Oct. 20 — Texas 811 is non-profit call center that allows people to call toll free before digging. Callers are connected to agents where they will discuss when, where and how the dig will occur to receive information on the types of utility lines that are buried underground.

— Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

 

Amarillo Globe-News: Perry pursuing policy on coal, nuclear power at odds with Texas record

Oct. 20 — Perry raised eyebrows in September when he urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to give certain fuel sources what amounts to a subsidy, but one borne by consumers rather than the government. And at a hearing on Capitol Hill last week, Perry called the notion that there’s a free market in electrical generation a “fallacy.”

— Amarillo Globe-News

 

Washington Examiner: Trump administration scrambles to save largest coal plant in the West

Oct. 23 — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is on an accelerated path to put out a rule creating the incentives in roughly the same time frame that Zinke has to sign off on the Navajo plant’s lease extension. The public comment period on the FERC’s proposed rule ends Monday. But it is not clear if the FERC plan would help make the economics better for the Navajo station beyond helping underscore the administration’s position that coal is necessary for a stable grid.

— Washington Examiner

 

Reuters: Solar installers press homeowners to buy ahead of tariff

Oct. 20 — U.S. home solar companies, believing President Donald Trump will soon slap tariffs on imported panels and make their systems more expensive, are using that threat to juice their slowing sales.

— Reuters

 

Texas Tribune: Perry pursuing policy on coal, nuclear power at odds with Texas record

Oct. 20 — An unusual coalition of fossil fuel interests, environmentalists and free-market adherents has criticized a proposal from U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would prop up coal and nuclear plants across the country. And some of those familiar with Texas politics are wondering if the Perry that served as governor for 14 years would have opposed the plan, too.

— Texas Tribune

 

Weatherford Democrat: Texas’ power may not be covered next time

Oct. 19 — While hundreds of thousands lost power after Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas last summer, outages may well be worse next time, given the increasingly violent weather that experts foresee.
“We’ve dodged the bullet,” said Karl R. R’bago, a former commissioner for the Texas Public Utility Commission who is now executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center. “We should honor our good fortune by not relying on it next time.”

— Weatherford Democrat

 

Waco Tribune: Waco Power Switch to save participants average of $368 annually

Oct. 19 — Houston-based Champion Energy Services submitted the winning bid to provide electric service to households participating in the Waco Power Switch program sponsored by Prosper Waco to reduce energy costs.

— Waco Tribune

 

The Teague Chronicle: Big Brown Going Down

Oct. 19 — The complex is in a “state of review” with ERCOT – the Electric Reliability Council of Texas – to make sure the plant is not needed for reliability reasons. ERCOT is the governing body that sets power prices throughout the state and must officially approve the closure of Big Brown.

— The Teague Chronicle

 

In The Pipeline: Craddick talks second term

Oct. 19 — The Texas Railroad Commission is widely seen as a springboard for higher office, but after six years, the chair, Christi Craddick, says she wants to keep her job at the powerful agency regulating oil and gas.

— In The Pipeline

 

The Mexia News: Luminant closing Freestone, Milam power plants

Oct. 18 — Luminant announced last week that it will close, for economic reasons, two coal-fueled, two-unit power plants in Central Texas: Big Brown Power Plant in Freestone County, and the Sandow Power Plant in Milam County.

— Mexia News

 

Rockdale Reporter: Good-bye Luminant

Oct. 19 — Rockdale has lost its biggest industry, greatest jobs provider and largest taxpayer. Again. Luminant announced Friday it will close its Sandow 4 and 5 power plants by January, and is also shutting down Three Oaks Mine, throwing more than 450 persons out of work, plus between an estimated 100 and 200 sub-contractors who will also be affected.

— Rockdale Reporter

 

Texas Observer: After Failing to Prop Up Coal in Texas, Rick Perry is Trying Again Nationwide

Oct. 18 — As energy secretary, Perry is proposing to guarantee profits for uncompetitive coal plants in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

— The Texas Observer

 

Utility Dive: Utilities should prepare for very low carbon future, says former Energy Secretary

Oct. 19 — While the Trump Administration is taking a number of steps to bolster coal-fired generation and rescind climate regulations, electric utilities should prepare for a very low-carbon future, former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Utility Dive at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas last week.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Texas’ planned coal retirements could depress ERCOT reserve margin

Oct. 19 — A spate of announced coal retirements are primarily to blame for possibly pushing down reserve margins in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, according to a Platts report based on the grid operator’s board meeting this week.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: DOE cost recovery rule could cost consumers billions in higher bills, says Sierra Club

Oct. 18 — The U.S. Department of Energy’s cost recovery proposal could cost consumer billions down the road, according to a new Sierra Club analysis, who noted operations and maintenance costs for merchant nuclear and coal in the four wholesale markets that could be affected by the rule added up to $14 billion in 2016.

— Utility Dive

 

Vox: 4 signs that Trump’s furious efforts to save coal are futile

Oct. 19 – -The Trump administration may be internally divided about many things, but it is absolutely united around one goal: supporting the US coal industry.
It is a goal the administration has pursued with uncharacteristic focus and discipline. On this policy — maybe only on this policy — there is a consistent message and a consistent plan of action, across departments and agencies.

— Vox

 

Bloomberg: Solar Wants to Help Fix a Power-Grid Problem It Helped Create

Oct. 18 — Solar panels have proliferated in the Golden State, flooding the grid with power supplies in the middle of the day when the sun’s out — and then quickly vanishing after sunset. This has created a sharp curve in California’s net-power demand that’s shaped like a duck. And the so-called duck curve is getting steeper every year, sending wholesale electricity prices plunging into negative territory, forcing generators offline and making it increasingly difficult to maintain the reliability of California’s transmission lines.

— Bloomberg

 

KUT: 3 Takeaways From Unprecedented Texas Coal Plant Closures

Oct. 18 — Energy company Luminant says it’s shutting down three of its coal-fired power plants in Texas by early next year. The sudden closure of so many plants is unprecedented. That’s not the only thing unexpected about the closures, though.

— KUT

 

Houston Public Media: Texas Communities Face Economic Challenges Following Coal Plant Closures

Oct. 17 — Luminant’s sudden announcement came as a shock for the Central Texas communities near the plants. Chris Whittaker, the city manager of Rockdale, said the area has already lost major employers. The closing of an Alcoa plant in 2008 cost the city 1,400 jobs. Whittaker said Rockdale’s tax base will take a hit from the Luminant pullout.

— Houston Public Media

 

Austin Business Journal: Central Texas coal plant to shut down as part of power generator’s pullback from fuel

Oct. 16 — Luminant, Texas’ largest power generator, will next year shut down three coal plants in the state — including one in Milam County, about 60 miles northeast of downtown Austin.

— Austin Business Journal

 

Waco Tribune-Herald: Big Brown among 2 coal-fired power plants scheduled to close

Oct. 13 — Luminant announced Friday it will close two coal-fired power plants in Central Texas, including Big Brown in Freestone County, prompting concern for the economies of each community and relief for air-quality concerns.

— Waco Tribune-Herald

 

ARS Technica: More than 4,000MW of coal power slated for retirement in Texas. But why?

Oct. 16 — Even now, with coal supplying one-third of the US’ power, UCS estimated more than 20 percent of existing coal power plants are “uneconomic” in today’s electricity market. They may face retirement before 2030. (That’s not including the 18 percent of the country’s existing coal capacity that is already announced for retirement or conversion to natural gas.)

— ARS Technica

 

KXAN: Wind could overtake coal in a few years in Texas

Oct. 17 — In a press release, Curt Morgan, Vistra Energy’s president and chief executive officer, explained the “long-term economic viability of these plants has been in question for some time.” The plants are part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market, which manages electrical power for a majority of the state. Luminant said with more renewable energy in the market and cheaper natural gas prices, their plants have struggled to remain economically competitive.

— KXAN

 

Platts: ERCOT reserve margins likely to dip below target, according to IMM

Oct. 17 — During the ERCOT Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, Bill Magness, ERCOT president and CEO, said his staff was working to determine whether any of the resources announced for retirement are needed to maintain system reliability, which may prompt the grid operator to negotiate reliability-must-run contracts. Magness said these analyses should be completed by the board’s December 12 meeting.

— Platts

 

The Brownsville Herald: ERCOT, ETT invest heavily in Valley

Oct. 16 — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas instructed Valley-area transmission and distribution service providers to reduce demand on their electric system. At the time, in October 2014 when this happened, an AEP Texas spokesman called the situation a “lack of generation capacity.”

— The Brownsville Herald

 

San Antonio Express-News: Tank explosion in La Salle County injures two oil field workers

Oct. 17 — A tank explosion at an oil field site in La Salle County on Tuesday injured two workers, who were flown to San Antonio for treatment. The tanks exploded around 10:40 a.m. at a Carrizo Oil & Gas, Inc. production facility south of Dilley, said La Salle County acting Fire Chief Daniel Mendez.

— San Antonio Express-News

 

San Antonio Express-News: Texas electricity complaints hit post-deregulation low

Oct. 17 — Texas electricity complaints last year hit their lowest level since the state deregulated its retail electricity market 16 years ago, demonstrating that complaints have fallen in sync with cheaper power prices, according to a new report released Tuesday.

— San Antonio Express-News

 

Utility Dive: Next generation utility-led community solar is emerging

Oct. 16 — Utility-led community solar has not yet seen the skyrocketing growth its advocates promised a few years ago, but a new generation of projects is emerging that could show the way to new possibilities.

— Utility Dive

 

UT News: Track Tremors Across Texas With New Website

Oct. 17 — The University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology has finished installing the state’s earthquake monitoring network, TexNet, and thanks to a new interactive website, the public can follow and sort seismic activity in Texas in real time.

— UT News

 

EnergyWire: Coal plant closures are coming to Texas. Now what?

Oct. 16 — If anyone needed a reminder of the breadth of change coming to the power sector, Vistra Energy Corp. offered a big one last week.

— EnergyWire

 

US News: Texas City Ditches Politics for Clean Energy

Oct. 13 — Georgetown, a city of 67,000 about 30 miles north of Austin, is one of the first cities in the nation to get 100 percent of its power from solar or wind. Directly at the center of redline Texas, Georgetown isn’t the obvious fit for clean energy advocates, but Mayor Dale Ross says the U.S. is facing a “tipping point moment” in energy costs, and cities such as Georgetown are aiming to stay ahead of the curve.

— US News

 

Associated Press: Texans hit hard by Hurricane Harvey rethink climate change

Oct. 16 — Jefferson County, Texas, was drowned by more than 60 inches of rain during Hurricane Harvey, which left wide swaths of the county in ruins. Last November, Jefferson flipped from voting Democratic in presidential elections to instead back Donald Trump, who has dismissed the concept of climate change as a hoax and has worked to undo regulations meant to mitigate its damage.

— Associated Press

 

Reuters: Coal plant closures continue even as U.S. ends ‘Clean Power Plan’

Oct. 13 — U.S. power firm Vistra Energy Corp said on Friday that it would shut two coal-fired plants for economic reasons, as closures in the industry continue apace despite the environment regulator saying this week he wanted to end the “war on coal.”

— Reuters

 

Reuters: The U.S. solar industry’s new growth region — Trump country

Oct. 12 — President Donald Trump’s administration has vowed to revive the coal industry, challenged climate-change science and blasted renewable energy as expensive and dependent on government subsidies.

— Reuters

 

Inside Climate News: Trump Pick for Top Environment Post says Carbon Dioxide Is ‘The Gas of Life’

Oct. 13 — Kathleen Hartnett White is an unabashed defender of fossil fuels who has argued against the endangerment finding and the Endangered Species Act.

— Insider Climate News

 

Vox: Americans are willing to pay $177 a year to avoid climate change

Oct. 13 — The proposal starts at $40 a ton and rises $5 a year. As to the second, the revenue goes to dividends, i.e., it is distributed back to citizens on a per-capita basis. (It’s a dividend of roughly $2,000 a year for a family of four, to begin with.) Policies like this are called “tax-and-dividend.”

— Vox

 

The Hill: EPA to restrict settlements with environmentalists

Oct. 16 — The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pledging to crack down on settlements with environmental groups that sue the EPA.

— The Hill

 

The Hill: Conservative think tank calls Plan to help coal, nuclear power ‘arbitrary

Oct. 16 — An analyst for the American Action Forum (AAF) said the proposal, announced this month by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, aims to address a “real problem” with “not the best solution.”

— The Hill

 

Texas Tribune: What does Trump’s repeal of environmental rules mean for Texas?

Oct. 13 –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has moved to unwind several Obama-era regulations designed to slash air pollution, protect the quality of major waterways and spur cities to reduce ozone.

— Texas Tribune

 

Texas Standard: Texas’ Clean Energy Producers Stand to Lose if EPA Abandons Clean Power Plan

Oct. 16 — The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan would have boosted renewable energy and natural gas. The EPA’s repeal favors coal.

— The Texas Standard

 

Platts: Gas loses ERCOT fuel mix share to wind, coal in September

Oct. 13 — Wind and coal-fired generation’s share of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ fuel mix rose month on month in September, while natural gas-fired units’ cut slipped below 50%, a mark held for two months, as less cooling load and strong winds pushed more peaking units out of the stack, according to the grid operator.

— Platts

 

Temple Daily Telegram: Luminant closing Milam County power plant

Oct. 13 — Luminant is closing two coal-fueled power plants in Central Texas, saying the two plants are economically challenged in the competitive ERCOT market, the company announced Friday.

— Temple Daily Telegram

 

EnergyWire: Coal plant closures are coming to Texas. Now what?

Oct. 16 — Those moves could push more than 4,000 megawatts of coal power offline in Texas’ main electric grid in the early part of 2018. Observers have been expecting Texas coal retirements, but the news is jolting in part because of the scope and timing.

— EnergyWire

 

Austin American-Statesman: Proposed change to Texas power pricing could hurt wind sector

Oct. 13 — If implemented, the proposal would require wholesale power prices to reflect the small amount of electricity lost during transmission through heat or other factors, which would essentially raise the cost of sending power from remote generation plants — such as wind farms — to cities. Transmission losses currently are omitted from prices.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

Houston Chronicle: Vistra to shutter two more coal-fired plants

Oct. 13 — In Texas’ deregulated market, the power companies rely on price spikes during hot summer days to help cover plant costs and earn profits. But the surge of electricity generated by natural gas plants, wind farms and, increasingly, solar panels has smoothed those spikes and slashed profits. Several merchant power companies have said they can no longer afford to invest in new power plants or maintain existing ones in Texas and called for the state to revamp its power market rules to allow them to benefit from higher prices.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Midland Reporter-Telegram: Railroad Commissioner Christian brings listening tour to Midland

Oct. 13 — Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian has embarked on a listening tour of sorts since joining the agency in January.

— Midland Reporter-Telegram

 

McAllen Monitor: ERCOT, AEP Texas invest heavily in RGV growth

Oct. 16 — A joint venture between subsidiaries of AEP and the Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company, ETT acquires, constructs, owns and operates transmission facilities within ERCOT, primarily in and around the AEP Texas Central Company and AEP Texas North Company service territories.

— McAllen Monitor

 

Longview News-Journal: Closing of Luminant plant a tax hit to Titus County

Oct. 16 — Titus County began living with the pain of losing Luminant’s Monticello Power Plant years before the company officially announced it would close the facility.

— Longview News-Journal

 

Power: Monticello Goes Under, More Coal and Nuclear Imperiled in Texas

Oct. 11 — A week after the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed a rule to bolster uneconomic coal and nuclear generators in competitive power markets, Luminant announced that an “unprecedented low power price environment” will force it to retire a 1.9-GW coal-fired power plant operating in the Texas market. The plant’s economic woes suggest a larger swath of Texas baseload generators may face a similar fate.

— Power Magazine

Energy Choice Matters: Texas ALJ Recommends Approving AEP Battery Storage Application

Oct. 13 — While the ALJ found, “no insurmountable statutory or regulatory prohibitions,” that would foreclose approval of the application, the ALJ said that many of the issues are one of policy, and the Commission may itself determine that policy considerations do not favor approval of the application as proposed.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Energy Choice Matters: Renewable Developers Say Losses Would Challenge Financial Viability Of Generation In North, West Texas

Oct. 13 — A study performed by the Brattle Group, sponsored by First Solar Inc., Vistra Energy Corp., and the Wind Coalition, says that implementing marginal losses in ERCOT would result in only 0.13% in production cost savings, while reducing generator net revenues.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Utility Dive: Acting chairman says FERC may boost coal, won’t ‘blow up the market’

Oct. 13 — The acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission pledged not to “blow up the market” as his agency acts on a proposed rule from the Department of Energy to provide cost recovery to coal and nuclear plants.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Next generation utility-led community solar is emerging

Oct. 16 — There are at least 183 utility-led community solar programs with almost 380 MW in online capacity, according to the most recent Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) count. That includes 22 investor-owned utility (IOU) programs with 257 MW of capacity, 30 public power utility (muni) programs representing 41 MW, and 131 rural electric cooperative (co-op) programs with 80 MW of capacity.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Texas wind capacity could soon exceed coal after retirements, new analysis says

Oct. 16 — According to Joshua Rhodes, research fellow at the University of Texas Austin’s Energy Institute, “it’s conceivable that energy generation from wind could possibly overtake coal in the near future.”

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: FERC, Barclays near settlement over $435M fine for US market manipulation

Oct. 16 — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Barclays Plc have made substantial progress towards a settlement that would resolve 2012 allegations of power market manipulation and could result in the largest fine ever levied by the agency.

— Utility Dive

 

PV Magazine: Utilities’ latest tactic? Fixed charge increases – and PUCs are listening

Oct. 13 — Unfortunately for the solar industry, state regulators are indicating a willingness to approve the increases, a sign that utilities have found a way to get regulators to allow changes to gain more revenue from their customers who install solar.

— PV Magazine

 

Longview News-Journal: Luminant to close Mount Pleasant plant, affecting 200 jobs

Oct. 11 — The decision follows several moves by Luminant over the past year to close power plants and mines as coal could not compete with cheaper and cleaning-burning natural gas for generating electricity at power plants, resulting in hundreds of job losses. Luminant, the largest power producer in Texas, laid off 132 workers as it shuttered its Oak Hill lignite mine near Tatum by the end of 2016.

— Longview News-Journal

 

Weatherford Democrat: Alternatives continue to bury Texas coal-powered plants

Oct. 11 — Word that yet another coal-burning Texas power plant will soon retire from service is a reminder that losses will keep mounting.

— Weatherford Democrat

 

Power Magazine: Monticello Goes Under, More Coal and Nuclear Imperiled in Texas

Oct. 11 — A week after the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed a rule to bolster uneconomic coal and nuclear generators in competitive power markets, Luminant announced that an “unprecedented low power price environment” will force it to retire a 1.9-GW coal-fired power plant operating in the Texas market. The plant’s economic woes suggest a larger swath of Texas baseload generators may face a similar fate.

— Power Magazine

 

Wall Street Journal: Energy Future Wrangles With Vistra Over Tax Breaks

Oct. 11 — Energy Future Holdings Corp. is battling some of its former businesses in a tax dispute with Vistra Energy Corp., and hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. is chiming in.

— Wall Street Journal

 

 

Laredo Morning Times: Texas Railroad Commission investigating cause, effects of La Salle County explosion

Oct. 11 — The Texas Railroad Commission and the state’s environmental quality agency have begun an investigation into the possible causes and effects of a fire and gas explosion at an energy industry site in eastern La Salle County on Saturday, the Sheriff’s Office there said.

— Laredo Morning Times

 

RTO Insider: First Shoe to Drop? Vistra to Retire 3 Texas Coal Units

Oct. 8 — Luminant, Vistra’s generation arm, has two other 1970s-era coal-fired plants in Big Brown and Martin Lake. The plants, with 3.7 GW of capacity, have combined capacity factors of 59% and 52%, respectively. Luminant’s 18 GW of capacity includes 8 GW of coal-fired generation and 7.5 GW of gas.

— RTO Insider

 

KLTV: Business leaders mull Luminant closing

Oct. 8 — The news of an East Texas coal plant that employs around 2-hundred workers is closing its doors has some business leaders wondering how that will affect their economy.

— KLTV

 

KSLA: Luminant to close Titus County power plant in January, 200 jobs affected

Oct. 6 — Luminant Energy has announced that they plan to close the Monticello power plant in Titus County in January.

— KSLA

 

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal LP&L officially applies to join ERCOT

Oct. 6 — The application was submitted to Texas’ Public Utility Commission, which will ultimately vote on whether Lubbock’s city-owned electric provider can disconnect from the Southwest Power Pool and connect to the ERCOT system. This vote could happen as soon as in the first quarter of 2018.

— Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

 

Dallas Morning News: East Texas Coal Plant, Once a Big Polluter, Snuffed Out By Cheap Natural Gas

Oct. 7 — One of Texas’ largest coal plants is shutting down, a victim of plentiful and cheap natural gas, plant owner Luminant announced today.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Utility Dive: Why utilities need to respond now to the EV boom

Oct. 9 — Accelerating growth forecasts for electric vehicles have energy analysts urging utilities to start planning for their impacts on the grid today.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: As DOE seeks to boost coal, Luminant to shut major Texas plant

Oct. 9 — The retirement is contingent upon a 60-day review by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to determine if the units are needed for reliability.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Utility success with corporate renewables demand raises questions for existing load

Oct. 5 — Stranded costs could result if too much existing load moves to renewables. That could be avoided by higher charges to non-participating customers, but the principles of good rate design require green tariffs to meet new demand without imposing such costs.

— Utility Dive

 

Reuters: EPA reports U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fall 2 percent in 2016

Oct. 5 – -Greenhouse gas emissions from America’s largest industrial facilities fell 2 percent in 2016 to 2.99 billion tonnes, led by a large cut from the power sector, according to data published on Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

— Reuters

 

Washington Examiner: Rick Perry’s vision of hot tub-sized nuclear power plants isn’t so far-fetched

Oct. 9 — Energy Secretary Rick Perry has a vision for developing fully mobile, hot tub-sized nuclear power plants that could become the latest piece in the Energy Department’s innovation and grid resiliency push.

— Washington Examiner

 

Dallas Morning News: Sempra, the bidder for Texas’ largest regulated utility, says it won’t burden Oncor with new debt

Oct. 4 — The alterations were made with an eye toward getting approval from the Texas Public Utility Commission.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Bloomberg: Sempra Falls on Plan to Issue More Equity to Get Oncor Approved

Oct. 4 — Sempra Energy tumbled after saying it would issue more equity instead of bringing in outside investors to help fund its $9.45 billion takeover of Oncor Electric Delivery Co., in an attempt to appease Texas regulators.

— Bloomberg

 

Austin American-Statesman: Panel weighs changes to pricing in the state’s electricity market

Oct. 4– Electricity that most Texans take for granted when they flip on their lights or crank up their air conditioners is increasingly being generated by power plants running on cheap natural gas or by the wind turbines proliferating across the state.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

Energy Wire: Disappointment and hope in Perry’s Texas

Oct. 4 — Count the power sector in Rick Perry’s home state among those unimpressed with the Energy secretary’s proposal to redefine competitive markets.

— Energy Wire

 

Reuters: Bankruptcy judge to reconsider $275 mln breakup fee for NextEra

Oct. 4 — The judge overseeing the bankruptcy of Energy Future Holdings Corp will reconsider his order from last year approving a deal breakup fee worth $275 million, citing what he said was his “fundamental misapprehension of critical facts.”

— Reuters

 

Energy Choice Matters: Texas Low-Income Groups Seek Enhanced Protections For Hurricane Harvey Victims For 12-Month Period

Oct. 5 — Several Texas low-income and other consumer groups petitioned the Public Utility Commission of Texas to adopt enhanced customer protections for victims of Hurricane Harvey, and to require REPs to offer such protections, to be in place for one year after adoption of the rule.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Energy Choice Matters: Revised Sempra Agreement To Acquire Oncor Would Eliminate EFH Debt

Oct 5 — Sempra Energy announced a revised agreement to acquire Energy Future Holdings, and thus Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC, which includes a new financing structure, under which Sempra Energy proposes to now acquire 100 percent of EFH at the close of the transaction with no third-party equity investors or EFH debt.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Texas Monthly: This Week in Texas Energy: Questions Remain About Railroad Commission Executive Director’s Resignation

Sept. 29 — A Texas energy conman was also involved in California’s real estate market, an Eagle Ford Shale dispute is settled, and the Public Utility Commission of Texas gets a new appointee.

— Texas Monthly

 

Midland Reporter-Telegram: Editorial: Editorial Board Says Craddick’s re-election bid means possible stability to RRC

Sept. 29 — Our guess is, not too many people, even here in the oil patch, can tell you the answer off the top of their head. When we asked Chairman Christi Craddick, the question stumped her. Why is this relevant, you might ask? Because Craddick is looking to be the first commissioner in a decade to win re-election after serving a full term.

— Midland Reporter-Telegram

Utility Dive: How DOE’s baseload power rule ‘would blow the market up’

Oct. 2 — Former FERC officials and energy experts say moves to guarantee cost recovery for generators with onsite fuel supplies could unravel wholesale power markets.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Report charts a path for more corporate purchases of utility-scale solar power

Oct. 2 — The corporate procurement of utility-scale solar power has grown from less than 1% of annual installed utility-scale capacity in 2014 to 9% in 2016 and 17% in early 2017, according to a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

— Utility Dive

 

Bloomberg: An Obscure Statute Is Helping Trump Save U.S. Coal, Nuclear

Sept. 29 – The Trump administration is taking advantage of an obscure 30-year-old statute to make good on a promise to help America’s ailing coal industry.

— Bloomberg

 

Energy Choice Matters: Texas Electric Co-Op Weigh In on Price Formation Issues

Oct. 2 — In comments on the Hogan-Pope whitepaper on price formation issues in ERCOT’s energy market, South Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc. said that, to the extent marginal loss pricing is adopted, retail electric providers should be compelled to pass-through any marginal loss surplus to their customers.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

The Hill: Trump proposes higher payments for coal, nuclear power

Sept. 29 — The Trump administration wants to mandate that coal, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants get paid higher prices for electricity than they are currently receiving.

— The Hill

 

The Hill: Bill would require Pentagon to assess security risks to electric grid

Sept. 29 — A bill introduced by a bipartisan group of House lawmakers this week would require the Pentagon to report to Congress on significant security risks to the U.S. electric grid and their impact on the U.S. military.

— The Hill

 

Washington Post: Rick Perry just proposed sweeping new steps to help struggling coal and nuclear plants

Sept. 29 — Energy Secretary Rick Perry took sweeping steps on Friday to buttress a pair of financially-strapped nuclear plants under construction and redefine how coal and nuclear plants are compensated for the electricity they provide — a move that, if agreed to by independent federal energy regulators, could tilt some of the nation’s complex power markets away from renewables and natural gas.

— Washington Post

 

San Antonio Express-News: South Texas nuclear power plant granted license extension

Sept. 29 — A nuclear power plant that city-owned utility CPS Energy buys power from will now generate power into the mid-century.

— San Antonio Express-News

 

Dallas Morning News: At the Texas Railroad Commission, bad habits and secret dealings

Sept. 28 — The Texas Railroad Commission again is under fire for lack of transparency, this time from an internal board fight between Chairwoman Christi Craddick and board member Ryan Sitton.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Dallas Morning News: Texas energy regulators may have broken law by reaching consensus behind closed doors, experts say

Sept. 23 — Aides have held their own regular meetings behind closed doors, and they have sometimes even documented their agreements — much like votes — in official memos. Operating this way allowed the commissioners to reach accord on issues out of the public eye. And it may have been illegal.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Utility Dive: DOE proposes cost recovery for base-load generators in new FERC rule

Sept. 29 — The Department of Energy pushed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday to boost compensation for generators providing base-load power supplies, proposing the most significant overhaul in the nation’s competitive power markets in over a decade.

— Utility Dive

 

New York Times: Trump Wants to Repeal Obama’s Climate Plan. The Next Fight: Its Replacement.

Sept. 28 – President Trump failed again this week to fulfill his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health plan. Now he is taking aim at Mr. Obama’s central environmental legacy, the Clean Power Plan.

— The New York Times

 

Energy Choice Matters: PUC Extends Requirement for Deferred Payment Plans To Disaster Victims

Sept. 29 — With the PUC’s action, the requirement for REPs to offer deferred payment plans to such customers is extended until October 12, 2017, which is the day after the PUC’s next open meeting. The PUC will consider whether further extension is appropriate prior to the October 12 expiration.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Energy Choice Matters: Oncor TDU Rate Savings To Go to Transitioned Sharyland Customers

Sept. 29 — During a discussion concerning a stipulation and proposed order in an Oncor rate case, which is linked to a global stipulation for Oncor to acquire the Sharyland Utilities distribution service areas, Commissioners of the Public Utility Commission of Texas agreed to include a provision which will require retail electric providers to pass-through the savings from the lower Oncor rates (as Sharyland customers will be served under system-wide Oncor rates) to retail customers.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Energy Choice Matters: Texas REP To Pay $40,000 for alleged Switch-Hold violation

Sept. 29 — According to the settlement, “Data provided by Think Energy shows that Think Energy did not timely initiate a transaction to release eight switch-holds after the customer’s obligation to the REP related to the switch-hold was satisfied.”

— Energy Choice Matters

 

The Hill: Poll Majority says climate change responsible for severity of hurricanes

Sept 28 — More than half of Americans believe that climate change is responsible for the severity of recent hurricanes, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll published Thursday.

— The Hill

 

Reuters: Energy industry says ‘no thanks’ to Trump offer of marine sanctuaries

Sept. 28 — Opening up these areas would likely help wind power companies – which Trump has lambasted – more than oil producers, they say. And neither industry is interested because of the high costs of offshore development, comparatively rich opportunities on land and the public relations headaches of developing protected oceanscapes.

— Reuters

 

Vox: The most effective clean energy policy gets the least love

Sept. 27 — Though they aren’t as sexy as perpetually-discussed-but-rarely-passed carbon taxes, and they are flawed and insufficient in a number of ways, RPSs have been the quiet workhorses of renewable energy deployment in the US. According to one Lawrence Berkeley Lab report, fully 62 percent of the growth in US non-hydro renewables since 2000 has been undertaken to satisfy RPS requirements.

— Vox

Utility Dive: NERC proposal targets cyber-security risks in electric system supply chains

Sept. 28 — The new standards require entities to develop and implement plans to address supply chain cyber-security risks during the planning and procurement of bulk electric grid security systems.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Trio of new bills in Congress aim to support energy storage deployment

Sept. 28 — Energy storage industry leaders expressed support for a trio of new bills filed in Congress at an event on Capitol Hill Wednesday, saying they would help support battery deployment and integration into utility planning.

— Utility Dive

 

Bloomberg: Hurricane Maria May Be a Preview of Climate-Fueled Migration in America

Sept. 27 — Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico may offer a preview for Americans of one of the most jarring potential consequences of global warming: the movement of large numbers of people pushed out of their homes by the effects of climate change.

— Bloomberg

 

The Hill: Industry gains clout within Pruitt’s EPA

Sept. 28 — Administrator Scott Pruitt is moving to address several top priorities of the energy, agriculture and automotive sectors and has been meeting frequently with industry representatives, according to his schedules. He has also chosen people with close industry ties for important positions.

— The Hill

 

Gizmodo: Could Evaporating Water Be the Next Big Thing in Renewable Energy?

Sept. 26 — Each day, our Sun pours its energy down onto the Earth’s surface, turning vast expanses of open water into vapor. New research shows the surprising degree to which this clean and renewable process could be used to produce electricity—enough, perhaps, to meet 70 percent of US energy needs. But before this energy solution makes it to prime time, we’ll need to know a lot more about its potential environmental effects.

— Gizmodo

 

Utility Dive: EPA initiative targets regulatory burden for utilities, other industries

Sept. 27 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a new Smart Sectors program in its Office of Policy, an initiative aimed at reassessing the agency’s relationship with the industries it regulates.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: As Perry slams state pipeline decisions, lawyers say DOE has little authority to intervene

Sept. 27 — Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on Tuesday reiterated his call for the U.S. to rethink the boundaries of state and federal jurisdiction when siting energy infrastructure, particularly interstate pipelines.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Crisis in Puerto Rico deepens as generator fuel supplies run low

Sept. 27 — The crisis in Puerto Rico is worsening as generators at critical facilities on the island run short on fuel — particularly at hospitals struggling to maintain care for those who have not been evacuated to other locations.

— Utility Dive

 

Reuters: U.S. energy secretary asks oil industry to study carbon capture technology

Sept 25 — U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Monday asked an oil industry advisory council to help find ways for oil drillers to exploit technology that captures carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, by injecting the carbon dioxide into the ground to help drill for oil.

— Reuters

 

Scientific American: Trump Administration May Soon Ax Obama’s Big Climate Rule

Sept. 25 — When the Obama administration issued its landmark climate rule in 2015, officials declared that benefits to public health and the climate would be enormous — dwarfing the costs.

— Scientific American

 

Bloomberg: Hurricane Maria Hits U.S. Refineries Without Touching Land

Sept. 25 — At least two East Coast refineries are making less gasoline and diesel as rough Atlantic seas hamper the transfer of crude oil from ships to barges for delivery to the facilities, people familiar with operations say.

— Bloomberg

 

GreenTechMedia: This Bipartisan Senate Bill Could Enable US Offshore Wind to Take Off

Sept. 25 — When the U.S. was ready to ramp up its solar industry, developers benefited from investments made in Germany, Spain and elsewhere in Europe that had funded gigawatt-scale annual deployments and pushed down costs. The same could happen with offshore wind.

— GreenTechMedia

 

Bloomberg: Perry Tells Climate Hecklers That Fossil Fuels Save Lives

Sept. 25 — Perry’s address to oil industry executives Monday was interrupted by hecklers protesting the Trump administration’s skepticism of climate change and rollback of regulations to address the threat. The former Texas governor told a meeting of the National Petroleum Council in Washington that they should be proud of what they do — not sheepish

— Bloomberg

 

Bloomberg: Permian ‘Super Basin’ Holds Up to $3.3 Trillion in Untapped Oil

Sept. 25 — The Permian region’s so-called recoverable resources would be enough to supply every refinery in the U.S. for 12 years and have a market value of about $3.3 trillion at current prices for West Texas Intermediate oil, the domestic benchmark.

— Bloomberg

 

Utility Dive: DOE still weighing state policy intervention for gas pipelines, grid reliability

Sept. 26 — The Department of Energy is exploring how it could overrule state energy policy decisions, senior officials said Monday, potentially using the Secretary of Energy’s authority to protect national security.

— Utility Dive

 

The Hill: US solar manufacturer vows hiring spree after win in trade case

Sept. 25 — A solar panel manufacturer petitioning the government for relief against cheap imports is promising to hire up to 200 workers following a win before the United States trade board last week.

— The Hill

 

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Oil association president says industry recovering after hurricane

Sept. 25 — Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Natural Gas Association, said the state of Texas is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey — and that includes the oil and gas industry.

— Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

 

Houston Chronicle: Perry ‘frustrated’ with anti-fossil fuel movement

Sept. 25 — Energy Secretary Rick Perry delighted in poaching companies from California while governor of Texas. Now he is going after the west coast state once again, saying he is “frustrated” with their opposition to oil and gas development.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Utility Dive: How utilities are minimizing disruptions from inevitable storms

Sept. 26 — Three monster storms in just the last month have pummeled the United States and Puerto Rico, killing more than 100 people, destroying thousands of homes and inflicting economic losses in the hundreds of billions.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Despite setbacks, DOE continues funding carbon capture research

Sept. 26 — U.S Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has announced about $36 million of financial assistance for advanced carbon capture technologies.

— Utility Dive

 

Energy Choice Matters: Texas Advocates Says Customer Protection Elimination Contrary to Statute

Sept. 26 — Texas ROSE (Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy) and Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) filed comments with the Texas PUC opposing the elimination of several customer protections currently in the substantive rules for customers who were eligible for the prior Lite-Up Texas discount program (funded by the defunct System Benefit Fund).

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Dallas Morning News: The fault that produced North Texas’ largest quake could produce an even bigger one, study says

Sept. 25 — The town that experienced a 4-magnitude earthquake in May 2015 — the strongest quake ever recorded in North Texas — sits on a fault with the potential to produce an event 10 times larger, suggests a new study led by scientists at Southern Methodist University.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Dallas Morning News: Texas energy regulators may have broken law by reaching consensus behind closed doors, experts say

Sept. 23 — The executive director of the agency that regulates Texas energy received a choice: Turn in her resignation or get fired. Problem was, the elected commissioner who made the demand did not have official approval from her colleagues.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Houston Chronicle: What happens when coal and nuclear plants close?

Sept. 22 — When future policymakers go back and study the U.S. energy industry in the decade that began in 2010, one of the defining trends will be the sudden decline of coal and nuclear power.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Associated Press: Texas’ top oilfield regulator resigns amid internal discord

Sept. 22 –The abrupt resignation of Texas’ chief oil and gas regulator has exposed high-level rifts within an agency recently given millions in additional dollars to step up inspections, with one Republican leader accusing the powerful chairwoman of running a “dictatorship.”

— Associated Press

 

Utility Dive: Solar sector steels for tariff fight after ITC harm ruling

Sept. 25 — Industry groups are pushing for softer trade remedies after the ITC found harm to domestic solar manufacturers last week.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Puerto Rico power grid ‘devastated’ by Maria, PREPA CEO says

Sept. 25 — Puerto Rico could be without power for four to six months after a double hit from Category 4 hurricanes in recent weeks, territory officials said this weekend.

— Utility Dive

 

The Hill: Trump officials adopt ‘base’-first strategy on nuclear and coal

Sept. 22 — In a shift from the Obama administration, Trump officials are putting a high priority on what is known as “base-load” power in the electric grid. That change has the effect of favoring coal and nuclear power, which can be generated consistently around the clock, no matter what the weather is.

— The Hill

 

CNBC: Commentator decries troubling ‘tactics’ to attack rooftop solar

Sept. 18 — As commercial solar energy continues to grow, there are signs that rooftop solar installations may be slowing as political attacks create roadblocks.

— CNBC

 

New area code: 10-digit dialing now mandatory for S.A.

Sept. 23 — A new area code is coming to the land of 210.

The new overlay area code for San Antonio is 726, according to the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

— KHOU TV

 

Community Impact Newspaper: Cedar Park, Leander dispute chosen transmission line route from Round Rock to Leander

Sept. 21 — After the Public Utility Commission of Texas voted in favor of a Lower Colorado River Authority transmission line route from Leander to Round Rock in May, the cities of Leander and Cedar Park took action to protest the decision.

— Community Impact Newspaper

 

Texas Tribune: Texas railroad commissioner wants AG to weigh in on board chair’s actions

Sept. 21 — Two days after Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton and the board’s chair, Christi Craddick, clashed publicly at a state meeting, Sitton is asking Attorney General Ken Paxton to weigh in on his colleague’s actions.

— Texas Tribune

 

Houston Chronicle: Railroad Commission executive director resigns

Sept. 21 — In recent months, Corley has been working on the problem of Texas not inspecting hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells for at least five years, in what has become a politically ticklish issue. Part of the problem has been a shortage of inspectors, as well as antiquated computer systems, officials have said.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Bloomberg: Despite Trump, States Still on Pace to Reach Paris Climate Goals

Sept. 20 –A coalition of states that vowed to fight global warming is on track to meet its share of U.S. targets set under the Paris Climate Agreement, even as President Donald Trump guts federal environmental efforts.

— Bloomberg

 

The Hill: Trump officials huddle over new climate strategy

Sept. 21 — The meeting was allegedly also meant to find a new way to frame Trump’s energy and environmental work, and to push back on the public perception that the administration doesn’t support climate change science.

— The Hill

 

Reuters: U.S. nuclear reactors face uphill challenge, despite lower emissions

Sept. 20 — The U.S. nuclear power industry is facing an uphill battle to hang onto its share of the country’s electricity production, with some projecting a worst-case scenario where half of the nation’s 99 nuclear reactors could shut over the next couple of decades.

— Reuters

 

Utility Dive: As operators update grid planning for renewables, transmission remains key constraint

Sept. 18 — Last year, about 6.5% of United States electricity generation came from utility-scale wind or solar resources. It’s a deceptive number, as it belies much higher portions of clean energy in specific areas and doesn’t indicate growing renewable portfolio standards around the country.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Solar insiders expect ITC harm finding, handing tariff decision to Trump

Sept. 19 –On Sept. 22, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is expected to decide whether the importation of cheap solar modules from China has unfairly disadvantaged U.S.-based solar manufacturers. If it finds harm, the president will decide whether to grant the request of two companiesto impose import tariffs on Chinese modules, or find a different remedy.

— Utility Dive

 

New York Times: Chemical Industry Ally Faces Critics in Bid for Top E.P.A. Post

Sept. 19 — The scientist nominated to head the federal government’s chemical regulatory program has spent much of his career helping businesses fight restrictions on the use of potentially toxic compounds in consumer goods.

— New York Times

 

Madison.Com: Utilities Are Creating the Conditions for Their Own Demise

Sept. 20 — Over the last decade, there’s been effectively zero electricity demand growth across the U.S. At the same time, new wind and solar farms that are cheaper than existing power generation resources have been built, eating up demand that used to go to wholesale market players.

— Madison.Com

 

Houston Chronicle: DeAnn Walker named chair of Public Utility Commission

Sept. 20 — Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday appointed a senior policy adviser and former electric company official on regulated industries to head the state public Public Utility Commission that regulates electric, telecommunications and water services.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: Texas and OPEC sure are starting to look a lot alike

Sept. 19 — Operators in the Permian Basin pumped 2.4 million barrels of oil a day in 2016, more than nine of the 14 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to the Texas Oil and Gas Association. That number will be higher this year and even higher in 2018, according to ESAI Energy, an oil and gas consulting firm.

— Houston Chronicle

 

MyHighPlains.com: Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission Seeking Re-Election

Sept. 20 — Christi Craddick was in Amarillo today speaking with the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association.

— MyHighPlains.Com

 

Energy Choice Matters: REPs Seek Retail Choice Consideration In Lubbock Power & Light transition into ERCOT

Sept. 21 — “Does LP&L’s application create barriers to opting into retail competition at a future date? If so, are these barriers appropriate or should they be removed or modified in a manner that does not foreclose or hinder the implementation of customer choice at a future date?”

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Fox Business: Judge to Reconsider NextEra Breakup Fee on Oncor Deal — Update

Sept. 19 — A bankruptcy judge on Tuesday dealt a blow to NextEra Energy Inc.’s campaign to collect a $275 million breakup fee for its failed attempt to take over Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s Oncor power-transmission business.

— Fox Business

 

Texas Tribune: Railroad Commissioner tells agency chair “This isn’t a dictatorship”

Sept. 19 — In a live-streamed Tuesday meeting, Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton and the board’s chair, Christi Craddick, sparred over questions about the fate of the agency’s executive director.

— Texas Tribune

 

El Paso Times: Agreement slashes EP Electric rate increase request

Sept. 19 — El Paso Electric’s proposed rate increase got slashed under a tentative agreement between the utility and the city of El Paso.

— El Paso Times

 

KFOX 14: New El Paso Electric rate increased would be used to cover costs of new power stations

Sept. 19 — The city of El Paso and El Paso Electric reached an agreement on a rate increase of about $5 in the summer and approximately $3.50 in the winter.

— KFOX 14

 

Green Tech Media: What’s Impacting Consumers’ Community Solar Investment Decisions

Sept. 18 — Potential solar customers are certainly window shopping. But in today’s market, interest doesn’t always equate to sales.

— Green Tech Media

 

Freemantle Gazette: City of Fremantle aims to be fully reliant on renewable energy by 2025

Sept. 20 — Fremantle strategic planning and project director Paul Garbett said their One Planet Strategy’s Zero Carbon principle outlined the need for energy efficient buildings and having power generated from 100 per cent renewable sources by 2025.

— Freemantle Gazette

 

San Antonio Business Jounral: San Antonio mayor to launch air quality pledge drive for businesses

Sept. 19 — As a critical federal deadline approaches, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is turning to the Alamo City’s business community to help improve the region’s air quality.

— San Antonio Business Journal

 

Houston Chronicle: What happens when the coal and nuclear plants close?

Sept. 19 — When future policy makers go back and study the U.S. energy industry in the 2010s, one of the defining trends will be the sudden decline of coal and nuclear plants.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: Shale producers pumping more oil despite Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Eagle Ford

Sept. 18 — U.S. shale drillers are expected to pump more oil this month even though Hurricane Harvey crimped output in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Energy Choice Matters: Oncor clarifies proposal that REPs pass through Sharyland rate savings

Sept. 19 — In response to a request from the Texas PUC’s Director of Docket Management, Oncor has clarified two issues related to language, proposed to be part of an order approving Oncor’s acquisition of Sharyland Utilities, that is intended to ensure that Oncor’s rates are passed through to customers served by Sharyland Utilities who will become Oncor customers after the Sharyland Transaction closes.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Associated Press: Evidence of spills at toxic site during floods

Sept. 18 — Local pollution control officials reported a spill at a Houston-area Superfund site following Hurricane Harvey.

— Associated Press

 

Utility Dive: Solar panel prices fell 30% in the first quarter of 2017, NREL report say

Utility Dive: Prices of utility-scale solar photovoltaic systems have fallen by about 30% over the past year, according to a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

— Utility Dive

 

Inside Climate News: Energy Forecast Sees Global Emissions Growing, Thwarting Paris Climate Accord

Sept. 14 — A new report from the U.S. energy forecasting agency sees the burning of fossil fuels continuing to dominate globally, even as renewable energy doubles.

— Inside Climate News

 

Utility Dive: As operators update grid planning for renewables, transmission remains key constraint

Sept. 18 — Flexibility and pricing reform are also challenges facing operators as they prepare the grid for more renewable energy.

— Utility Dive

 

EnergyWire: For utilities, buried lines no ‘panacea’ to avoid outages

Sept. 15 — The underground power system in downtown Houston provided an oasis back in September 2008, keeping the lights on after Hurricane Ike plunged most of Texas’ largest city into darkness.

— EnergyWire

 

Austin American-Statesman: Hurricane Harvey’s toll on air and water pollution slowly coming into focus

Sept. 15 — Fifty-five refineries and petrochemical plants in the Houston, Corpus Christi and Beaumont areas collectively emitted 5.8 million pounds of benzene, ammonia and other pollutants to the air in connection with Hurricane Harvey, according to reports filed by the companies with state regulators.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

Texas Monthly: EPA Opens Investigation Into Crosby Arkema Plant

Sept. 15 — Plus: Houston’s Galena Park neighborhood deals with a massive oil spill after Harvey, Exxon loses a fight to keep documents secret in New York’s climate change fraud probe, and the chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission is running for re-election.

— Texas Monthly

 

San Angelo Standard-Times: Staples bullish on Texas’ oil and gas future

Sept. 17 — Texas Oil & Gas Association President Todd Staples is making his way around the Lone Star State, spreading the good news about the oil and gas recovery, and he said San Angelo and neighboring counties are nicely poised to benefit for the foreseeable future.

— San Angelo Standard-Times

 

Reuters: Two Democratic senators threaten to hold up Trump EPA nominee

Sept 13 — Two Democratic senators said on Wednesday they may hold up the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency nominee Susan Bodine until she explains her advisory role at the agency, which may violate federal law.

— Reuters

 

Politico: Florida governor remains unsure about climate change after Hurricane Irma

Sept 14 — Gov. Rick Scott is again weathering criticism over global warming in the wake of Hurricane Irma, and won’t say if he believes man-made climate change is real.

— Politico

 

The Hill: Trump officials eyeing replacement for key Obama climate rule

Sept 15 — The Trump administration is planning to pursue a less ambitious, more industry-friendly climate change rule for coal-fired power plants as it works to scrap the one written under former President Obama.

— The Hill

 

Vox: Why utilities don’t move power lines out of hurricanes’ way

Sept. 15 — The short answer is that it’s horrendously expensive. The city of Tallahassee estimated that it would cost $2 billion to bury its lines.

— Vox

 

Utility Dive: DOE awards $20M to commercialize new energy technologies

Sept. 15 – U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on Wednesday announced $19.7 million in funding aimed at commercializing new technologies.

— Utility Dive

 

The Hill: Perry rejects calls to sell off emergency oil reserve

Sept. 15 — Perry was asked at a Friday press conference if Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, both of which damaged Gulf Coast infrastructure, have led him to reassess a Trump administration proposal to sell off portions of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), a component of the White House’s May budget proposal.

— The Hill

 

Fierce Wireless: Companies team up to hide small cells inside street lights

Sept. 12 — Cities across the country have been struggling to approve small cell deployments, partly due to concerns that the devices would be an eyesore to residents and visitors. The situation has grated on wireless carriers and others, which have bemoaned sluggish small cell deployments due to cities’ deployment regulations. For its part, American Tower’s McAree said the company would adhere to local regulations regarding small cells, but pointed out the devices would essentially be hidden inside the light poles.

— Fierce Wireless

 

Utility Dive: Natural gas composed 50% of August generation in ERCOT

Sept. 14 — ERCOT’s monthly demand data shows that natural gas supplied 50% of the power generation in August.

— Utility Dive

 

Corpus Christi Caller-Times: As motorists panicked during Hurricane Harvey, energy industry scrambled to meet demand

Sept. 14 — While lines of cars choked gas stations, refineries and fuel suppliers worked behind the scenes to keep Texas driving.

— Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

Houston Chronicle: Houston EPA lab set to close

Sept. 13 — Conservationists and labor union officials argued Wednesday that the potential closing of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional lab in Houston, which is expected to play a key role in Hurricane Harvey recovery, is among harmful impacts of the Trump administration’s drive to slice staff and mission in the agency.

— Houston Chronicle

 

The Hill: Trump on climate change and hurricanes: ‘We’ve had bigger storms’

Sept. 14 — Trump later ignored a question about his views on climate change, according to reporters traveling with him.

— The Hill

 

Houston Chronicle: CenterPoint’s Enable Midstream buying Dallas company for $300M

Sept 13 — CenterPoint Energy’s Enable Midstream joint venture said it’s buying a Dallas pipeline company, Align Midstream, for $300 million.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Dallas Morning News: Dallas energy company sells for $300 million to OKC firm

Sept. 13 — A Dallas-based midstream company is being sold by its private equity owner for $300 million to an Oklahoma City firm.

— Houston Chronicle

 

American Journal of Transportation: Hurricane Harvey caused electric system outages and affected wind generation in Texas

Sept. 13 — Hurricane Harvey caused substantial electricity outages, as power plants and transmission infrastructure—particularly in south Texas and along the Gulf Coast—were affected by high winds and significant flooding.

— American Journal of Transportation

 

Abilene Reporter-News: Expert says U.S. can be leader in energy production

Sept. 13 — Producing and selling more oil and natural gas while developing cleaner methods is the direction the energy industry needs to go. That’s the recommendation given by Dr. Ken Morgan, keynote speaker at the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers meeting Wednesday at the Abilene Convention Center.

— Abilene Reporter-News

 

Odessa American: Oncor employees helping in Florida

Sept. 13 — As Hurricane Irma was coming nearing Florida early Sunday, hundreds of Oncor employees and contractors left staging areas across its service territory bound for the Sunshine State.

— Odessa American

 

Platts: Natural gas supplies half of ERCOT demand in August; nuclear share rises

Sept. 12 — Natural-gas fired generation took up half of the fuel mix in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in August after topping 50% in July, an almost two-year high, with more nuclear generation in the stack due to fewer nuclear outages than in July, according to ERCOT’s monthly demand and energy report.

— Platts

 

Green Tech Media: DOE Officially Marks SunShot’s $1 per Watt Goal for Utility-Scale Solar

Sept. 12 — It’s official. The solar industry has met the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative — three years early.

— Green Tech Media

 

The Hill: EPA delays toxic waste rule for power plants

Sept. 13 — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing back by two years key deadlines in a 2015 rule limiting toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants.

— The Hill

 

Associated Press: EPA delays rules limiting wastewater from coal power plants

Sept. 13 — The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday it’s postponing portions of an Obama-era rule to curb water pollution from coal-fired power plants while it considers whether to rewrite the measure.

— Associated Press

 

Houston Chronicle: Like Strait of Hormuz, Gulf Coast energy hub is now “too important to fail,” IEA says

Sept. 13 — Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma could cut U.S. oil demand up to 800,000 barrels a day in September, even as the Gulf Coast’s shuttered refineries bring petroleum product stockpiles in a large swath of the world closer to normal levels.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Associated Press: Purdue tapped to lead new research into shale-gas fuels

Sept. 13 — A federal agency has chosen Purdue University to oversee a fledgling research center that will focus on developing new technologies to produce fuels from the nation’s shale-gas deposits.

— Associated Press

 

The Hill: Miami mayor rips Pruitt climate change criticism in light of Irma

Sept. 13 — Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado on Wednesday slammed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt‘s suggestion that it is inappropriate to discuss climate change in the wake of Hurricane Irma as “insensitive.”

— The Hill

 

Texas Tribune: Craddick seeking another term on Railroad Commission

Sept. 12 — Craddick’s announcement means that every non-judicial statewide official in Texas — all of them Republicans — has plans to seek re-election next year.

— Texas Tribune

 

Houston Chronicle: Craddick seeks reelection to Railroad Commission

Sept 12 — Craddick, who was first elected to the commission in 2012, is one of the last statewide elected Republicans to decide to run for reelection. With her decision, every non-judicial statewide office holder in Texas now plans to seek reelection.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: Harvey toppled storage tanks in the oil patch, spilled nearly 2,000 barrels

Sept. 12 — Soon after Hurricane Harvey reached Texas, several huge steel tanks owned by one oil company sprung free from their piping and toppled over, tearing flow lines and spewing hundreds of barrels of oil and waste water some 100 miles west of Houston.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Amarillo Globe-News: Study shows Xcel Energy pricing is below state average

Sept. 12 — A Texas Coalition for Affordable Power study found energy prices have risen in single-provider areas over the last 10 years while dropping in the 85 percent of the state that is deregulated.

— Amarillo Globe-News

 

Platts: Natural gas supplies half of ERCOT demand in August; nuclear share rises

Sept. 12 — Natural-gas fired generation took up half of the fuel mix in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in August after topping 50% in July, an almost two-year high, with more nuclear generation in the stack due to fewer nuclear outages than in July, according to ERCOT’s monthly demand and energy report.

— Platts

 

Houston Chronicle: Galena Park gasoline spill dwarfed other Harvey leaks, but stayed out of public eye for days

Sept. 12 — Federal and state agencies took almost two weeks to publicly acknowledge the extent of the spill that had occurred in a storage tank complex operated by Oklahoma pipeline company Magellan Midstream Partners.

— Houston Chronicle

 

The Hill: Energy Department expands goals for solar power initiative

Sept. 12 — The price of electricity generated by utility-scale solar photovoltaic systems fell to $0.06 per kilowatt hour this year, achieving a 2020 goal of the SunShot program three years early. Prices for residential and commercial systems are 86 percent and 89 percent toward achieving their price goals, the Energy Department reported.

— The Hill

 

Houston Chronicle: Bulk of gasoline spill in Galena Park never escaped into waterways, EPA says

Sept. 12 — The bulk of the 11,000 barrels of gasoline that leaked from storage tanks in Galena Park never escaped secondary containment booms into nearby waterways, federal officials said Tuesday.

— The Houston Chronicle

 

KAUZ CBS 6: Oncor sends aid to Florida, Harvey assistance continues

Sept. 11 — Oncor is sending crews to Florida to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. More than 200 employees and contractors left early Sunday morning to assess damages and restore power in partnership with Florida Power and Light.

— KAUZ CBS 6

 

National Law Review: Texas Supreme Court Upholds $22.7M Award in Gas Production Contamination Case

Sept 11 — Holding that the Texas Railroad Commission’s statutory authority to regulate contamination from oil and gas operations does not preclude private suits for damages, the Texas Supreme Court upheld a $22.7 million award in a suit alleging contamination from natural gas production.

–National Law Review

 

Press Release: Xcel Energy withdraws plans for fuel cost surcharge

Sept. 11 — Temporary charge planned for Texas will not be added as fuel balances improve.

— Press Release

 

Utility Dive: US added 2.4 GW of solar resources in Q2, SEIA says

Sept. 11 — The United States added 2,387 MW of solar PV capacity in the second quarter of this year, topping Q1 installations and representing an 8% year-over-year gain, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report.

— Utility Dive

 

GreenTechMedia: US Residential Solar Market Forecast to Decline for the First Time

Sept. 11 –The U.S. solar market just saw its largest Q2 ever. But industry-wide numbers mask growing pains in residential PV.

— Greentech Media

 

Inside Climate News: How 90 Big Companies Helped Fuel Climate Change

Sept. 11 — A new study connects climate change impacts to the emissions from Exxon, Chevron and other large oil, gas and cement companies and their products.

— Inside Climate News

 

The Hill: Trump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job

Sept. 10 — President Trump formally nominated Wehrum Thursday to be the EPA’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, where he would oversee a massive portfolio concerned with air pollution, climate change, auto regulation and more.

— The Hill

 

Inside Climate News: Damage from Hurricane Irma, Harvey Add to Growing U.S. Costs of Climate Change

Sept. 11 — Government watchdogs have been warning about the financial risks of climate change, from extreme storms to wildfires, and their impact on the U.S. budget.

— Inside Climate News

 

The Hill: Solar power installations grow 8 percent

Sept. 11 — The rate of solar power capacity increase grew 8 percent in the second quarter of the year compared to the previous year, making it the highest second quarter on record.

— The Hill

 

Houston Business Journal: 5 things to know in Texas energy this week

Sept. 11 — As Houston continues to recover from the impact of Hurricane Harvey and the record-shattering flooding it brought, the state’s energy industry is beginning to return to normal with coastal and offshore production facilities, pipelines and refineries coming back online.

— Houston Business Journal

 

Wired: Hackers Gain Direct Access to US Power Grid Controls

Sept. 6 — Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year.

— Wired

 

Brownsville Herald: LNG company says concerns are misplaced

Sept. 9 — Industrial Energy Consumers of America, a trade group representing U.S. manufacturers, says exporting too much domestically produced natural gas to countries that don’t have free-trade agreements with the United States will jeopardize this country’s supply of natural gas and cause prices to skyrocket.

— Brownsville Herald

 

The Hill: Guest Commentator Calls for Elimination of Renewable Energy Subsidies

Sept 9 — Bill Peacock is the vice president of research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Austin aimed at promoting limited government.

— The Hill

 

Power Engineering Magazine: Bankruptcy Court Approves Sempra’s Purchase of Oncor

Sept. 8 — Sempra Energy announced it will ensure Oncor, Texas’ largest utility, will remain independent, financially strong and locally-managed, and retain the ring-fence measures that helped insulate Oncor from Energy Future’s bankruptcy.

— Power Engineering Magazine

 

Utility Dive: Bankruptcy court approves Sempra plan to acquire Oncor

Sept. 8 — Sempra’s bid for the Texas utility pushed out a lower $9 billion bid from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and was just the latest turn in the yearslong proceeding to spin EFH out of bankruptcy.

— Utility Dive

 

Abilene Reporter-News: Column from Sen. Buckingham on Impact of Hurricane to Oil & Gas Industry

Sept. 8 — State Sen. Dawn Buckingham serves District 24, which includes the largest portion of Taylor and five other Big Country counties.

— Abilene Reporter-News

 

The Hill: Trump stacks administration with climate change skeptics

Sept. 9 — President Trump has stacked his administration with officials who doubt the scientific consensus behind man-made climate change, underscoring a growing divide within the Republican party.

— The Hill

 

Utility Dive: Retail electricity prices rise, spurred by boost in delivery costs, EIA says

Sept. 8 — Retail electricity prices have risen over the past decade even as the cost of natural gas, one of the main fuels for producing electricity, has fallen, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

— Utility Dive

 

Midland Reporter-Telegram: Earthquakes pepper Pecos, Snyder areas

Sept. 7 — There have been a total of six earthquakes in the last 10 days near Snyder and Pecos, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

— Midland Reporter-Telegram

 

Houston Chronicle: A few thousand CenterPoint customers still don’t have power

Sept. 7 — A few thousand CenterPoint Energy customers remain without power nearly two weeks after Tropical Storm Harvey deluged Houston in four feet of water.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: Residents reminded to locate buried utilities before digging, removing trees after Harvey

Sept. 7 “It’s important to dig safely,” said Joe Berry, manager of damage prevention for CenterPoint Energy. “We’ve already seen a few damages (after Harvey) caused by fence replacements. We could have a gas line right up next to the fence post.”

— Houston Chronicle

 

Energy Choice Matters: Utilities Suspend Non-Payment Disconnections in Hurricane Areas

Sept 8 — Texas-New Mexico Power Company, AEP Texas Inc., and CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric LLC, have agreed to not process disconnections for non-payment through Sept. 29 in hurricane-affected areas.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Energy Choice Matters: Lawmaker says REP Mandate to Fund Special Low-Income Protections Ended

Sept. 8 — Texas State Rep. Chris Paddie said in a letter to the PUCT that legislation he sponsored was not intended to mandate that REPs be compelled to continue providing low-income protections on an un-reimbursed basis.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Houston Business Journal: Arkema sued over chemical explosions at Crosby plant

Sept. 7 –The lawsuit, filed Sept. 7 in Harris County court, is seeking more than $1 million in monetary relief. The plaintiffs are first responders. Arkema said in a statement denies the allegations and plans to “vigorously defend” the lawsuit, which it described as “gravely mistaken.”

— Houston Business Journal

 

Bloomberg: Hurricane Irma Made Worse by Climate Change, Scientists Say

Sept. 6 — Climate change didn’t cause Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm to form in the open Atlantic Ocean, but did make it much stronger, scientists in Germany and the U.K. said.

— Bloomberg

 

Utility Dive: Report says CPS Energy should cease investments in Texas coal plant

Sept. 7 — A report prepared for Sierra Club by Synapse Energy Economics recommends CPS Energy not make any major new investments on its Spruce coal units at Calaveras Power Station in San Antonio, Texas, as they are unlikely to pay off in the future.

— Utility Dive

 

The HIll: Power plant rule repeal announcement likely this fall

Sept. 7 –Federal officials expect to finalize their review of the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plans this fall, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Thursday in a court filing.

— The Hill

 

Dallas Business Journal: Court approves Sempra’s bid for Oncor ahead of Buffett

Sept. 6 — The ruling moves the $9.45 billion deal ahead to the Texas Public Utility Commission to approve the deal. The first hearings are expected to be held in the coming months. The bankruptcy court would have to rule again on the deal as will the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Justice Department.

— Dallas Business Journal

 

Fox Business: Sempra Energy Gets Bankruptcy Court Approval of $9.45 Billion Oncor Deal

Sept. 6 — Sempra Energy took a step forward Wednesday in its pursuit of Oncor, the electricity transmissions business that has had takeover offers from a series of suitors, including, most recently, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

— Fox Business

 

Houston Chronicle: Bankruptcy court approves Sempra’s bid for Oncor’s parent

Sept. 6 — A bankruptcy court in Delaware on Wednesday approved the proposed acquisition of Energy Future Holdings by Sempra Energy of San Diego, a key step in concluding a years-long process to gain control of the Dallas company’s major asset, Oncor.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Electric Light & Power: Bankruptcy court OKs Sempra Energy’s merger with Energy Future Holdings

Sept. 6 — The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved the merger agreement that Energy Future Holdings Corp. signed with Sempra Energy back in August 2017.

— Electric Light & Power

 

Dallas Morning News: Bankruptcy court clears way for Sempra Energy’s $9.45 billion takeover of Oncor

Sept. 6 — California-based Sempra Energy has won the blessing of a U.S. bankruptcy court for its $9.45 billion purchase of Oncor, the Texas electric transmission giant that has seen three previous suitors fail in takeover bids.

— Dallas Morning News

 

AP: Official says Texas gas supply recovering after Harvey

Sept. 6 — Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton says any shortages likely will be resolved within the next day or two. He says several refineries in the state idled by the storm have restarted, although a few remain closed while undergoing inspections.

— Associated Press

 

Austin American-Statesman: Texas gas lines disappear as fears of shortage ebb

Sept. 6 — Long lines for gasoline in Austin and elsewhere in the state have dissipated for the most part along with the short-lived, social media-fueled frenzy over fears of a severe shortage.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

Associated Press: EPA says Houston-area oil spill cleaned up

Sept. 6 — A spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency says a 2,500-gallon oil spill linked to Harvey’s strike on the Houston area has been cleaned up.

— Associated Press

 

Austin Business Journal: $380M oil pipeline planned to reach from Gulf Coast to Austin suburbs

Sept. 6 — Valero Energy Corp. will soon be able to move up to 60,000 barrels of gasoline and other refined products per day from its facilities in Houston to the Austin suburbs as part of a $380 million project.

— Austin Business-Journal

 

E&E News: Harvey and the future of energy

Sept. 5 — The main electric utility here drew praise for keeping power on for scores of customers but had to tackle hundreds of thousands of outages.

— E&E News

 

RTO Insider: PUC Approves Preliminary Order in Oncor-Sharyland Asset Swap

Sept. 4 — Among those signing on to the settlement agreement are commission staff, the Office of Public Utility Counsel (OPUC), the Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor, the Alliance of Oncor Cities, numerous other Texas cities and various electric retailers. The Texas Industrial Energy Consumers (TIEC), the Targa Pipeline Mid-Continent WestTex and Golden Spread Electric Cooperative chose not to oppose the settlement.

— RTO Insider

 

CNBC: Oncor acquisition battle isn’t Buffett’s first — or last — rodeo

Sept. 6 — Berkshire Hathaway recently made investment headlines with its agreement to purchase the power-transmission company Oncor for $9 billion in cash, a would-be coup for the legendary billionaire, as it would have chipped away at Berkshire’s bloated cash balance (of nearly $100 billion).

— CNBC

 

Bloomberg: Texas Chemical Plant Secured After Post-Hurricane Harvey Blazes

Sept. 4 — Authorities are allowing residents living near a burned and flooded Texas chemical plant to return to their homes after the French owner deliberately set fire to the last remaining containers of volatile products in a bid to secure the site.

— Bloomberg

 

GreenTechMedia: Harvey’s Devastation Shows the Need for Distributed Energy, Microgrids During Disasters

Sept. 1 — Harvey, the hurricane-turned-tropical depression that’s devastated the Texas Gulf Coast, has also driven home the value of off-grid energy systems, from backup generators to microgrids — and the dire results of failing to have them ready to prevent disasters.

— GreenTechMedia

 

Energy Choice Matters: Texas PUC Directs REPs To Prioritize Service, Assistance To Hurricane Victims

Sept. 6 — The executive director of the Public Utility Commission of Texas issued a memo stating that retail electric providers should prioritize customer assistance and dedicate their focus on customers displaced or impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and to facilitate such focus, and that the PUCT will therefore exercise its enforcement discretion with respect to certain other timelines and obligations otherwise required under the substantive rules for non-prioritized matters.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Houston Chronicle: Flooding at substation leaves 5,700 waiting for power

Sept. 3 — The final piece needed to restore power for thousands of Houstonians is sitting dead in 2 feet of water, a giant substation hidden by a dense forest in the outskirts of west Houston.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Platts: Outages drop, but flooding slows work

Sept. 3 — Areas affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath reported less than 65,000 customers were without power at 12 pm CDT Sunday, the lowest level since the storm made landfall August 25. Flooding continued to hamper power restoration efforts, however.

— Platts

 

Fort Bend Herald: Electric company offers safety tips for storm aftermath

Sept. 2 — If you find that water has risen above your electrical outlets, you must call a licensed electrician before you turn on the main circuit breaker or turn on the power for any connected appliances, such as televisions, computers and more.

— Fort Bend Herald

 

Tyler Morning Telegragh: Gas prices could rise as high as $2.75 per gallon, but won’t stay there

Sept. 1 –There’s no shortage, and aside from some panic-buying that depleted the stocks of some gas stations, no prospect of scarcity.

— Tyler Morning Telegraph

 

Amarillo Globe-News: Xcel Energy files case to raise residential rate 14 percent

Aug. 21 — Xcel Energy filed a rate case Monday afternoon to recuperate $66.4 million in annual spending at the cost of $15.61 per 1,000-kilowatt hour monthly bill, which would represent a 13.9 percent increase to the average residential customer.

— Amarillo Globe-News

 

Energy Choice Matters: PUC To Utilize Enforcement Discretion To Allow TDUs To Prioritize Storm Restoration

Sept. 5 — The executive director of the Public Utility Commission of Texas issued a memo stating that, in order to allow electric TDUs to prioritize service orders related to utility restoration, outages, reconnection, and de-energized move-ins, the PUCT is exercising its enforcement discretion related to various timelines that would otherwise be required for completion of routine service orders under the substantive rules and standard tariff for delivery service.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Utility Dive: AEP CEO says Harvey ‘devastated’ system in south Texas

Sept. 1 — American Electric Power’s transmission and distribution system in its south Texas service territory has been “devastated,” CEO Nick Akins said.

— Utility Dive

 

Sherman Herald Democrat: Panda court case raises concerns about local power plant

Sept. 2 — Disputed estimates of future power usage are at the heart of an ongoing court case between Panda Power Generation Funds and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The lawsuit comes as one Panda-affiliated power plant has declared bankruptcy while the future of other plants, including the one in Sherman, remains uncertain.

— Sherman Herald Democrat

 

Austin American-Statesman: As flooding continues, Beaumont’s water supply fails

Aug. 31 — In Beaumont, a Southeast Texas city of 118,000 about 75 miles east of Houston, the problem is simple, stark and stifling: too little drinking water caused by too much floodwater.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

Washington Post: Explosions possible after ‘pops’ heard at storm-crippled Texas chemical plant, officials say

Aug. 31 — Hours after noisy “chemical reactions” and fires broke out at a storm-battered chemical plant — sending numerous sheriff’s deputies to the hospital, and spreading smoke and alarm across the area — the facility’s operators warned that explosions were possible, even as authorities scrambled to reassure the public that no “concerning” levels of hazardous chemicals had been detected in the air.

— Washington Post

Washington Post: Harvey is a 1,000-year flood event unprecedented in scale

Aug. 31 — As Harvey’s rains unfolded, the intensity and scope of the disaster were so enormous that weather forecasters, first responders, the victims, everyone really, couldn’t believe their eyes. Now the data are bearing out what everyone suspected: This flood event is on an entirely different scale than what we’ve seen before in the United States.

— Washington Post

 

Platts: Texas PUC acts to expedite electric restoration

Aug. 31 — As the remnants of Hurricane Harvey move northeast through Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, utilities are restoring power and regulators are suspending rules to expedite such efforts.

— Platts

 

Texas Tribune: Explosions reported at Harvey-flooded chemical plant in Crosby

Aug. 31 — Arkema Inc. said the Harris County Emergency Operations Center notified the company at 2 a.m. Thursday of explosions and black smoke coming from its Crosby plant, which was inundated by Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters.

— Texas Tribune

 

Houston Chronicle: CenterPoint Energy continues to restore power to most Houston-area customers

Sept. 1 — Fewer than 40,000 CenterPoint Energy customers in the Houston area were still without power late Thursday — a fraction of the 800,000-plus who have been affected for some period of time since Hurricane Harvey first made landfall on the Gulf Coast a week earlier.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Power Magazine: Harvey Ravages Power Generation and Transmission

Aug. 31 — Harvey—a massive weather system, which has so far killed 38 people, displaced thousands of others, and caused widespread flooding in Texas—downed 7.6-GW of generation resource capacity, along with two major 345-kV transmission lines and 85 other high-voltage transmission lines serving the Gulf Coast.

— Power

 

San Antonio Express-News: Despite long lines, there is no gas shortage in Texas

Aug. 31 — Although panicked drivers are flocking to gas stations, many of which are temporarily out of fuel, Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton said there’s nothing to fear.

— San Antonio Express-News

 

KPRC TV: Gas shortage fueled by social media-driven hysteria, Texas RR commissioner says

Aug. 31 — Harvey’s power caused havoc in the Gulf of Mexico region, shutting down refineries, offshore drilling and pipelines. That prompted heavy demand both before and after the storm.

— KPRC TV

 

Bloomberg: Harvey’s Floods Could Delay 10% of U.S. Fracking

Aug. 31 — As much as 10 percent of U.S. fracking work could be delayed after Hurricane Harvey ripped through southeast Texas, soaking thousands of miles of dirt roads snaking through one of the nation’s busiest oilfields.

— Bloomberg

 

NBC-DFW: Oncor Sending Hundreds to Help Restore Power Along Gulf Coast

Aug. 30 — Oncor is sending a group of 160 employees and contractors along with more than a dozen of its trucks to the Texas coast to help overwhelmed utility providers restore power in the region devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

— NBC-DFW

 

Platts: Harvey boosting East Texas, La. outages

Aug. 30 –As what is now Tropical Storm Harvey moved eastward and made landfall in Southwest Louisiana around 4 am Wednesday, power outages have risen in East Texas and Southwest Louisiana, and continued flooding has hampered efforts to restore power in the Houston area.

— Platts

 

Energy Choice Matters: Draft Texas PUC Order Would Require Deferred Payment Plans To Disaster Victims

Aug. 30 — A draft order to be considered by the Public Utility Commission of Texas at today’s open meeting would require retail electric providers to offer deferred payment plans to customers, upon request, in an area covered by a disaster declaration.

–Energy Choice Matters

 

Energy Choice Matters: Governor To Allow AEP Texas To Directly Supply Generation To Community Impacted By Hurricane

Aug. 31 — In accordance with section 418.016 of the Texas Government Code, the Office of the Governor of Texas granted a request from the Public Utility Commission of Texas to suspend several provisions of the Texas Administrative Code in order to allow AEP Texas to provide electric generation service to the community of Holiday Beach and surrounding areas served off the Tatton Substation, until such time that the electric transmission, substation, transformers, and other associated equipment is rebuilt.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Energy Choice Matters: More Texas REPs Suspend Disconnections, Offer Payment Assistance

Aug. 31 — The NRG retail providers are also providing direct financial relief for customers impacted by Harvey, including payment extensions, late fee and deposit alternatives/waivers, as well as increased funding of the bill payment assistance in the CARE (Community Assistance from Reliant Energy) program.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

Bloomberg: Harvey Recharges Offshore as Crippled Houston Counts the Cost

Aug. 28 — Tropical Storm Harvey, which made landfall as a category 4 hurricane, drifted into the Gulf of Mexico, poised to recharge before crashing ashore again Wednesday on the Texas-Louisiana border. As much as 30 percent of the nation’s refining power was imperiled, according to analysts at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co.

— Bloomberg

 

Platts: Harvey’s impact hampers grid restoration efforts

Aug. 29 — As a result of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, widespread outages across Texas continue to suppress load Tuesday and poor weather conditions continue to hinder grid-restoration efforts, utility and Electric Reliability Council of Texas data showed.

— Platts

 

Green Tech Media: Hurricane Harvey Is Putting Texas Grid Resiliency to the Test

Aug. 28– Hurricane Harvey’s path of destruction has left hundreds of thousands of Texans without power, and the state’s utilities are facing days, or even weeks, before the floodwaters recede and they can begin to repair the damage.

–Green Tech Media

 

Electric Light & Power: ERCOT, power utilities respond to Tropical Storm Harvey

Aug. 29 — While power to some areas that were affected by Hurricane Harvey have been restored Monday, new outages are likely over the next several days as the tropical storm affects other parts of the ERCOT region, including the Houston area.

— Electric Light & Power

 

Utility Dive: Hurricane Harvey knocked out power to 300K Texas customers

Aug. 28 — ERCOT noted the number of customers without power decreased slightly as the storm wore on, but reports widespread transmission outages, particularly near the Corpus Christi and Victoria areas.

— Utility Dive

 

Platts: Production cuts, power outages continue as Harvey barely moves

Aug. 28 — Power outages, gas and oil production declines, and infrastructure damage assessments continued Monday as Tropical Storm Harvey picked up only a little speed, moving 3 mph toward the east-southeast from its current location about 40 miles east of Port O’Connor, Texas.

— Platts

 

Utility Dive: If nuclear is not in the future US energy mix, what will replace it?

Aug. 29 — Policy specialists say significant new nuclear generation is unlikely for a decade or more. Many also agree existing nuclear plants should not be replaced by natural gas plants. They split, though, on crucial questions about nuclear power’s future, such as whether existing plants should get subsidies like zero emission credits or be replaced, when they should be replaced, and what they should be replaced with.

— Utility Dive

 

CBC 19: Oncor will dispatch 160 workers to restore electricity in Texas

Aug. 28 — Oncor will dispatch 160 employees and contractors to help restore power to parts of Texas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

— CBS 19

 

Politico: Harvey swamps Texas oil industry

Aug 28 — The hole that Hurricane Harvey ripped across the energy industry along the Gulf Coast will take time to repair, and the Trump administration doesn’t look ready to tap into the government’s crude oil reserves to head off a jump in gasoline prices.

— Politico

 

Harvey Drenches: Flash Flood Warning For Central Texas, Flash Flood Emergency In Houston

Aug. 26 — One person is dead in Rockport in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey, according Aransas County officials. Another person is confirmed dead in Houston, as unprecedented rainfall brings flooding across Southeast Texas. As it continues to linger, state officials are urging Texans to expect persistent rains and underscoring the potential for life-threatening floods for the next few days across the state. Hundreds of thousands are without power along the coast, where cleanup efforts are just beginning.

— Texas Public Radio

 

Vox: The US coal industry is going out, not with a whimper, but with a burst of rent-seeking

Aug. 26 — The US coal industry is dying — but not with any dignity. As the end approaches, its sense of aggrieved entitlement is increasingly naked, its demands for government handouts increasingly frantic. As dread builds, shame has left the building.

— Vox

 

Utility Dive: Coal tops gas as leading generation source in first half of 2017

Aug. 28 — Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates total electricity generation fell in the first half of 2017, relative to the same period last year, and coal is once again the largest fuel source on the grid.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Hurricane Harvey knocked out power to 300K Texas customers

Aug. 28 — ERCOT noted the number of customers without power decreased slightly as the storm wore on, but reports widespread transmission outages, particularly near the Corpus Christi and Victoria areas.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: What to watch in the wake of the DOE grid study

Aug. 28 — Power sector experts say there are several ways the long-awaited study could impact wholesale power markets, FERC and electric policy.

— Utility Dive

 

Washington Post: More than 200,000 in Texas without power

Aug. 26 — As of 6:30 a.m. Central time, ERCOT said more than 213,000 people customers were without power.

— Washington Post

 

Houston Chronicle: How Oncor slipped through Buffett’s hands at the last minute

Aug. 26 — After making a bid to buy Texas’ largest utility, Berkshire Hathaway Energy was prepared to walk into a Delaware bankruptcy court Monday and get approval for its $9 billion deal to buy the bankrupt Energy Future Holdings.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Dallas Morning News: Fifth time’s the charm? Sempra reveals details on its plan to win Texas electricity giant Oncor

Aug. 26 — Geoffrey Gay, a lawyer who represents about 150 cities served by Oncor, said there are a lot of unanswered questions. “The parties were shocked that Sempra is now announced to be the favorite choice because nobody had ever dealt with Sempra.”

— Dallas Morning News

 

Austin American-Statesman: Hurricane Harvey: 2.9 million could lose power in storm

Aug. 25 — A model using forecasts from the National Hurricane Center determined that about 420,000 power customers will lose power in areas in the middle Texas coast and in south central Texas, including San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Victoria, according to a press released from the university.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

Houston Chronicle: State urges Texas residents to watch for oil spills during Hurricane Harvey

Aug. 25 — The Texas Railroad Commission has closed its Corpus Christi office in preparation for Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, has warned oil and gas operators to buckle down operations, and is asking Texas residents to report any suspected oil and gas spills to its 24-hour call line.

— Houston Chronicle

 

El Paso Times: El Paso Electric rate hearing canceled for negotiations

Aug. 24 — A state hearing in Austin on El Paso Electric’s request to increase rates has been canceled to allow the utility to negotiate a possible settlement with the city of El Paso and others contesting the rate request, officials announced Thursday.

— El Paso Times

 

Washington Post: Buffett wouldn’t negotiate for Oncor. He lost the deal — and a $270 million termination fee.

Aug. 24 — Warren Buffett got oohs and aahs when people thought he’d bagged a $270 million breakup fee after his Berkshire Hathaway Energy was outbid for Oncor by Sempra Energy, which won the company with a $9.45 billion offer.

— Washington Post

 

Dallas Morning News: How Texas allows gas utilities to hit consumers with a parade of under-the-radar rate hikes

Aug. 24 — According to the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, at least nine interim rate filings — six from Atmos and three from CenterPoint — have added more than $500 million to consumer rates since 2011 and all without a serious peep out of the Railroad Commission.

— Dallas Morning News

 

National Public Radio: Officials In Texas React To President’s Comments Concerning NAFTA

Aug. 24 — Texas’ Senior US Senator stressed the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA following President Donald Trump’s comments at a rally in Arizona predicting a termination of the agreement.

— National Public Radio

 

Platts: ECLIPSE PROMPTED A BALANCING ACT BY US MARKETS AS IT CURTAILED SOLAR POWER

Aug. 23 — Monday’s eclipse cut a path across the US, causing concern for power grid operators — especially those with significant amounts of solar power generation. How did prices react, and what else is ahead in 2017?

— Platts

 

Dallas Morning News: While other Oncor bidders failed, Sempra was learning how to win Texas’ power

Aug. 23 – California utility giant Sempra Energy seemingly came out of nowhere last week to snatch Oncor from Warren Buffett.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Houston Chronicle: After a century, global power grid is changing dramatically, report says

Aug. 23 — The curbing of greenhouse gas emissions and the rise of renewable energy and electric vehicles are pushing a transformation of the world’s electrical grid, according to a report released this week by GTM Research, a subsidiary of the Houston-based energy research firm Wood Mackenzie.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Electric Light & Power: Sempra to buy EFH; Berkshire Hathaway Energy proposal ends

Aug. 22 — Berkshire Hathaway Energy in an Aug. 18 statement had announced that the staff of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas, Office of Public Utility Counsel, Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor, the Texas Industrial Energy Consumers and the IBEW Local 69 entered into a settlement agreement with Berkshire Hathaway Energy, resolving all issues in Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s proposed acquisition of Oncor.

— Electric Light & Power

 

Dallas Morning News: While other Oncor bidders failed, Sempra was learning how to win Texas’ power giant

Aug. 23 — California utility giant Sempra Energy seemingly came out of nowhere last week to snatch Oncor from Warren Buffett.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Houston Chronicle: City right-of-way fees in past decade: $5.2 billion

Aug. 17 — The study is interesting because it highlights a seldom-highlighted aspect of local revenue that helps pay the bills for other city services.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Amarillo Globe-News: Xcel Energy files case to raise residential rate 14 percent

Aug. 21 — Xcel Energy filed a rate case Monday afternoon to recuperate $66.4 million in annual spending at the cost of $15.61 per 1,000-kilowatt hour monthly bill, which would represent a 13.9 percent increase to the average residential customer.

— Amarillo Globe-News

Bloomberg: How the U.S. Power Grid Took the Solar Eclipse in Its Stride

Aug. 22 — The Great Solar Eclipse of 2017 came and went and California kept the lights on despite losing about half of its solar energy during the darkest moments.

— Bloomberg

 

Texas Tribune: Warren Buffett outbid in race to buy big piece of Texas electric grid

Aug. 21 — The announcement signaled that Oncor’s parent company had abandoned the $18 billion deal that Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett’s multinational conglomerate, unveiled six weeks ago to much fanfare.

— Texas Tribune

 

New York Times: Advertisement Sempra Bid Tops Buffett and Singer in Race for Energy Future

Aug.21 –Sempra’s bid is off to a promising start. Berkshire said on Monday that it had withdrawn its bid. And Mr. Singer’s activist hedge fund, Elliott Management, which had opposed Mr. Buffett’s offer as too low, threw its support behind the new suitor.

— New York Times

 

Dallas Morning News: California utility Sempra wants to buy Texas energy giant Oncor; tops Berkshire Hathaway bid

Aug. 21 — After three years of drama, the attempt to sell Oncor, Texas’ largest regulated utility, continues to generate twists and turns.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Bloomberg: Sempra Dares Buffett to Be Disciplined

Aug. 21 –While everyone is focused on the imminent solar eclipse, a black hole appears to have opened up in the vicinity of Dallas. Fortunately, its formidable gravitational pull only seems to affect utilities.

— Bloomberg

 

Houston Chronicle: El Paso case could shape the future of rooftop solar in Texas

Aug. 18 — The El Paso City Council has joined a growing list of opponents of a proposed electric rate increase that, the city says, would disproportionately affect the rising number of rooftop solar customers in the far reaches of West Texas.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Dallas Morning News: Texas tops nation in energy creation and use, but who knew coal was on the rise here?

Aug. 19 — Texas is the nation’s largest — and one of the world’s top — oil producers. A result is that Texas also leads the nation in energy consumption by a wide margin.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Utility Dive: ERCOT determines Gibbons Creek coal plant not necessary for reliability

Aug. 21 — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has approved a request by the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) to operate the 470 MW coal-fired Gibbons Creek power for only five months of the year.

— Utility Dive

 

Houston Public Media: Houston’s Major Power Company Wants Electric Market Reforms

Aug. 17 — The Texas Public Utility Commission is considering changes to the way electricity is priced in Texas. NRG is worried about how policies like subsidies for renewables are affecting that system.

— Houston Public Media

 

Bloomberg: Elliott’s Oncor Debt Move Tops Busy 24 Hours for Paul Singer

Aug. 18 — – In the span of just 24 hours, activist investor Paul Singer made his presence felt in campaigns from London to Amsterdam before shifting focus back to his home country to escalate a takeover battle with Warren Buffett.

— Bloomberg

 

Platts: ERCOT approves Texas muni’s plan to mothball coal-fired plant

Aug. 17 — The city of Garland, Texas, can mothball its 470-MW coal-fired plant in Grimes County starting October 17, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said Thursday.

— Platts

 

New York Times: In Battle Over Texas Utility, Elliott Is Grasping at Straws

Aug. 17 — Elliott Management, the hedge fund run by Paul Singer, is grasping at straws in its battle for bankrupt Energy Future Holdings.

— New York Times

 

Corpus Christi News: Railroad Commissioner makes Port Corpus Christi a priority

Aug. 16 — Port expansion plans, including widening the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, stand to increase oil and gas export capacity to 3 million barrels a day from the 1 million barrels currently being shipped from Port Corpus Christi. Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton told those attending a quarterly meeting of the Eagle Ford Consortium in Corpus Christi on Aug. 16 that he has made increasing both the width and depth of the channel a top priority.

— Corpus Christi News

 

Elgin Courier: RRC Enforcement Actions Taken at Commissioners’ Aug. 15 Conference

Aug. 17 — The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $949,983 in fines involving 323 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ conference earlier this week. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

— Elgin Courier

 

Electric Light & Power: Texas coop seeks approval for 138-kV transmission line

Aug. 16 — Rayburn Country Electric Cooperative submitted to the Public Utility Commission of Texas an application to amend a certificate of convenience and necessity regarding the Lower Bois D’Arc Pump Station 138-kV Transmission Line Project in Fannin County, Texas.

— Electric Light & Power

 

Reuters: Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway will not increase its Oncor offer

Aug. 16 – The energy unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc said on Wednesday it will “stand firm” on its $9 billion offer to acquire 80 percent of Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC and will not increase its offer.

— Reuters

 

Fox Business: Elliott Moves to Block Berkshire’s Oncor Bid; Buffett Stands Pat

Aug. 16 — Hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. has purchased a slice of debt that would ensure the hedge fund’s ability to block Warren Buffett’s deal to buy power-transmission business Oncor, according to people familiar with the matter.

— Fox Business

 

The Street: This Activist Investor Just Tried to Stick It to Billionaire Warren Buffett

Aug. 17 — Elliott Management Corp. has found a way to potentially block Warren Buffett’s deal to buy Texas power transmission business Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter.

— The Street

 

KIII News: Texas Railroad Commissioner predicts rise in price of oil

Aug. 17 — A member of the Texas Railroad Commission who visited Corpus Christi Wednesday morning predicts that oil prices will rise above $60 a barrel by next year.

— KIII News

 

Corpus Christi Caller-Times: Railroad commissioner visits Corpus Christi’s port, advocates deepening, widening

Aug. 16 — Technical banter and a few jokes dominate the conversation aboard the Port of Corpus Christi police boat giving Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton a tour of the city’s inner harbor.

— Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

The Hill: Court rejects greens’ challenge to Texas natural gas export project

Aug. 15 — In its Tuesday decision, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department of Energy (DOE) conducted the necessary environmental and economic reviews before it approved the Freeport LNG export terminal project.

— The Hill

 

Reuters: Sierra Club sues U.S. Energy Department over power grid study

Aug. 14 – It was the latest push-back on the department’s study from backers of renewable energy such as wind and solar power who fear it could be used by the Trump administration to form policies that could slow growth in the industry.

— Reuters

 

Bloomberg: Nuclear Power’s Woes Imperil U.S. National Security, Moniz Says

Aug. 15 — The decline of the U.S. nuclear-power industry puts America’s security at risk, according to a report being released Tuesday by former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that calls for greater federal investment.

— Bloomberg

 

Houston Chronicle: Large West Texas wastewater spill in Delaware River diluted by rain, BLM says

Aug. 15 — Heavy rain may have softened the environmental blow of a large wastewater spill in the Delaware River near West Texas oil fields earlier this month, officials say.

— Houston Chronicle

 

The Hill: EPA to rewrite toxic waste limits for power plants

Aug. 15 — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intends to rewrite limits on toxic waste from power plants, the agency said in a court filing this week.

— The Hill

 

Utility Dive: US poised to become leader in gas exports, but some fear price impacts

Aug. 11 — Natural gas producers are only just beginning to access an entirely new market, a potential boon to their bottom lines. But if those energy supplies are sent into higher-priced global markets, will there be an impact on consumers in the United States?

— Utility Dive

 

Houston Chronicle: How long can the U.S. keep hackers at bay and the lights on?

Aug. 13 — After it came to light this summer that hackers had infiltrated the computer networks of two U.S. power companies – at a time the country was still reeling from Russian cyberattacks aimed at influencing the 2016 election – the possibility of hackers taking down the U.S. power grid and sending the nation into chaos suddenly seemed a very real possibility.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Bloomberg: NRG Sale Draws Possible Suitors Including GIP, NextEra

Aug. 10 — Utility giant NextEra Energy Inc. and investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners are among at least seven companies looking into buying renewable energy assets from NRG Energy Inc., the U.S. power generator under pressure from billionaire investor Paul Singer to streamline.

— Bloomberg

 

RTO Insider: ERCOT, Regulators Discuss Need for Pricing Rule Changes

Aug. 14 — Industry experts and ERCOT stakeholders and staff jammed the Texas Public Utility Commission’s hearing room Friday for the first of several discussions on scarcity pricing and other price-formation issues in the grid operator’s energy-only market.

— RTO Insider

 

Houston Chronicle: Solar project beating early projections, while wind struggles

Aug. 14 — Looking at electricity production from solar projects across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North and South America since 2010, Fitch analysts found they met or exceeded their early estimates 70 percent of the time.

— Houston Chronicle

 

KUT: Science On Oil And Gas Link To Texas Quakes ‘Uncertain,’ New State Seismologist Says

Aug. 11 — The science on whether there’s a link between oil and gas activity and a surge in earthquakes in Texas isn’t clear-cut, says the new seismologist for the agency that regulates the industry here.

— KUT.org

 

Dallas Morning News: Texas’ electricity marketplace riddled with deceivers, manipulators and violators

Aug. 11 — How much trouble can one Texas electric company get into?

— Dallas Morning News

 

Associated Press: Texas officials looks at power grid’s reliability

Aug. 10 — Some electricity companies in Texas are planning to put less money into maintaining and modernizing plants, causing some officials to worry about energy reliability in the state.

— Associated Press

 

Longview News-Journal: Dean wants review of power line rules after fatal accident

Aug. 14 — State Rep. Jay Dean says he’s talking with other area lawmakers about legislation in response to the recent electrocution deaths of three Boy Scouts at Lake O’ the Pines.

— Longview News Journal

 

Platts: Lower wind, higher load pushes up gas share in ERCOT

Aug. 10 — Weaker wind output and heavier load resulted in natural-gas fired generation taking up more than half of the fuel mix in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in July, an almost two-year high, with more nuclear outages in the footprint, the most recent ERCOT data showed.

— Platts

 

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: What’s shaking? New state seismologist will tell us

Aug. 10 — Velasco was hired this week by the Texas Railroad Commission to be its seismologist to help the agency study where and when there is seismic activity as it relates to oil and gas drilling. The railroad commission regulates the oil and gas industry in Texas.

— Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

The Lewisville Texan Journal: Council passes small cell ordinance

Aug. 12 — Reacting to a new state law passed this summer, the Lewisville City Council passed ordinances to set fees and conditions for the placement of “small cell” equipment within public rights of way in Lewisville.

— The Lewisville Texan Journal

 

Utility Dive: Utilities donate more to Republican candidates than to Democrats

Aug. 10 — Liberal watchdog groups Energy and Policy Institute and Center for Media and Democracy have put together a spreadsheet of utility-backed donations to assist governors and attorneys general in the next election cycle, finding contributions to Republicans far outpaced Democrats.

— Utility Dive

 

Bloomberg: Coal Plants Might Be Even More Toxic Than We Thought

Aug. 8 — An environmental disaster in North Carolina reveals that a rare, potentially dangerous compound is abundant in burned coal.

— Bloomberg

 

Utility Dive: US poised to become leader in gas exports, but some fear price impacts

Aug. 11 — Natural gas producers are only just beginning to access an entirely new market, a potential boon to their bottom lines. But if those energy supplies are sent into higher-priced global markets, will there be an impact on consumers in the United States?

— Utility Dive

 

Houston Chronicle: How long can the U.S. keep hackers at bay and the lights on?

Aug. 13 — After it came to light this summer that hackers had infiltrated the computer networks of two U.S. power companies – at a time the country was still reeling from Russian cyberattacks aimed at influencing the 2016 election – the possibility of hackers taking down the U.S. power grid and sending the nation into chaos suddenly seemed a very real possibility.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: 15 years after deregulation, should Texas revamp its power markets?

Aug. 8 – After more than a year of debate, the issue fizzled in the face of strong objections from industrial power users, who said such a market would unnecessarily raise rates. They claimed that future demands on Texas’ electric grid were exaggerated and ERCOT has been able to find plenty of power.

— Houston Chronicle

 

El Paso Times: UTEP professor named staff seismologist for state Railroad Commission

Aug. 8 — Aaron Velasco is a professor of geological sciences and UTEP’s current director of interdisciplinary initiatives. He will continue to perform those roles while serving with the Railroad Commission. Velasco replaces outgoing seismologist Craig Pearson, who served as the commission’s first-ever seismologist.

— El Paso Times

 

Bloomberg: Warren Buffett Likes Solar, but Not the Price Tag

Aug. 8 — Berkshire Hathaway Energy says it’s not so simple. The company, which owns several utilities using conventional and renewable power sources, is the second-largest owner of clean-energy assets in the U.S. But along with other utilities, it argues that the law is outdated, often raises costs for its customers, and forces utilities to buy more electricity than needed.

— Bloomberg

 

Utility Dive: DOE funds transmission research to reduce grid risks

Aug. 8 — DOE will award Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University more than $350,000 to develop a probability-based model for cost-effective renewables integration.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: NRG CEO predicts ERCOT margins to shrink further

Aug. 7 — NRG Energy says that while plant cancellations and project delays threaten to push the grid’s reserve margin lower, the fundamentals for generators in Texas power markets look strong.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Oncor drops proposed minimum charge for DER customers

Aug. 7 — Oncor Electric has agreed to drop a proposed minimum charge on customers with distributed energy resources greater than 2 kW in an effort to advance its $317 million rate increase.

— Utility Dive

 

Politico: Why are these billions in pipeline projects stalled?

Aug. 5 — President Donald Trump’s slowness to nominate members to an energy commission helped cause a bureaucratic logjam that held up $13 billion in pipeline and gas-export projects.

— Politico

 

EnergyWire: Is the era of the utility megaproject over?

Aug. 3 — While the risk of megaprojects in deregulated states falls on the developers and their investors, much of the risk in rate-regulated states rests with utility customers. That’s true, at least, in states that allow recovery of financing and other costs of power projects during construction.

— EnergyWire

 

Platts: Luminant’s Comanche Peak-2 reactor in Texas due to return ‘late next week’

Aug. 4 — The 1,124-MW Comanche Peak-2 nuclear reactor is due to come back online late next week after shutting down June 5 due to problems with a steam turbine, Vistra Energy said Friday.

— Platts

 

Austin American-Statesman: Bastrop oil spill stirs Austin’s angst over Longhorn pipeline

Aug. 5 — Six months before a maintenance crew caused an 87,000-gallon crude oil spill in Bastrop County on July 13, the pipeline’s owner and operator agreed to pay $18 million in penalties and remediation efforts related to three spills that fouled waterways in three states, including a 20,000-gallon spill in Texas City.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

RTO Insider: Berkshire Hathaway Energy Earnings Up on Solar Rebound

Aug. 6 — Berkshire Hathaway Energy reported a $38 million increase in earnings for the second quarter over a year earlier, largely because of improved performance of BHE Renewables.

— RTO Insider

 

RTO Insider: PUCT Workshop to Address ERCOT Market Improvements

Aug. 6 — Market participants have complained about ERCOT’s use of reliability unit commitments, reliability-must-run contracts and other out-of-market actions. The Independent Market Monitor’s most recent State of the Market report made several recommendations on improving price formation. Texas regulators frequently discuss the need for real-time market co-optimization.

— RTO Insider

 

Houston Chronicle: Dynegy reports nearly $300 million loss for second quarter

Aug. 7 — Houston-based power company Dynegy said it lost nearly $300 million in the second quarter as it wrote off the value of Midwestern coal-fired power plants.

— Houston Chronicle

 

KRWG Public Media: Outrage Over El Paso Electric Solar Rate Proposal

Aug. 4 – Sen. José Rodríguez wrote a letter to El Paso City Council urging them to oppose El Paso Electric Company’s proposed pricing scheme for solar customers. EPE proposes to charge more to customers who seek to conserve power and lower costs; this is bad
for El Paso and could set a dangerous precedent for other communities across Texas.

— KRWG Public Media

 

Northeast News: Water Utility crisis nears resolution

Aug. 1 — Homeowners from four local subdivisions packed the hall at Hambrick Middle School last Thursday night, to hear government officials and water utility companies explain how the water quality crisis in their locales developed, and what remedy is being proposed to resolve the problems. The Town Hall meeting was organizaed by State Representative Armando Walle, after his office received numerous complaints about water that either was unfit to drink, or not available at all in the system.

— Northeast News

 

Platts: NRG says ERCOT reserve margins will tighten

Aug. 3 — NRG Energy said Thursday it is expecting a tightening of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas power market as new plant build delays and cancellations as well as retirements lower the reserve margin in 2018 to a projected 11.3%.

— Platts

 

Dallas Business Journal: Oncor’s new CEO in waiting: ‘There is only one deal on the table’

Aug. 3 — If Warren Buffett’s deal goes through, Oncor’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Allen Nye would take over the CEO post from Bob Shapard, who’s planning to retire.

— Dallas Business Journal

 

Dallas Morning News: Does the Bible say there’s oil in Israel? Thousands are paying a Dallas company to find out

Aug. 3 — With the Bible as its North Star, Zion Oil & Gas has spent more than $150 million of investors’ money on a “special task, in a special country” — Israel.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Dallas Morning News: Why a Texas politician cares about which light bulb you can buy

Aug. 23 — Lewsiville Rep. Michael Burgess is a medical doctor who stands out as a well-known Republican voice on health care and other marquee issues that consume Congress’ time and energy.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Utility Dive: Power generators burning less gas this year as prices rise

Aug. 4 — While the summer is not over yet, that peak daily burn rate would be slightly below last year’s peak of 42 Bcf/d which occurred on Aug. 11. But for the full year, EIA expects gas burn to be about 9% lower than in 2016.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Most states now have energy efficiency goals in place

Aug. 4 — Energy efficiency is a hot topic when it comes to utility load management, and increasingly states are developing policies through a mix of mandated requirements, voluntary goals, or pilot programs.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Most states now have energy efficiency goals in place

Aug. 4 — Energy efficiency is a hot topic when it comes to utility load management, and increasingly states are developing policies through a mix of mandated requirements, voluntary goals, or pilot programs.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: What’s missing from the 100% renewable energy debate

Aug. 3 — Media reports focused on the dispute about the resource mix and often overlooked how the energy system is evolving. But other researchers have begun to address the possibility of coupling together the many sectors of the economy that consume energy. They are thinking about new efficiencies from using electricity generated by renewables for heating and cooling and transportation.

— Utility Dive

 

NBC: Super-Colossal Wind Turbines May Be on the Horizon

Aug. 3 — One problem is that building bigger versions of the turbines you see on hillsides today simply isn’t feasible. Rotor blades tend to flex in high winds, raising the possibility that the rotors would strike the tower supporting them. Taller windmills will need stiffer blades positioned well away from the tower — which adds weight and cost.

— NBC

 

Tyler Morning Telegraph: Conservatives raise questions over Buffett bid for Oncor

Aug. 1 — Warren Buffett’s decision to make a bid for Oncor has already won the praise of key Texas regulators, but the speed with which the Nebraska billionaire gained this approval has key Tea Party groups watching carefully.

— Tyler Morning Telegraph

 

Community Impact Newspaper: Frisco City Council opposes Oncor’s proposed rate increase

Aug. 1 — Frisco City Council passed a resolution Tuesday opposing a proposed rate increase from Oncor Electric Delivery Company The proposed rate increase, if approved, would cost a residential customer using 1000 kWh per month more than $6 per month, according to the city.

— Community Impact Newspaper

Houston Chronicle: Senate Bill could destroy list of low-income ratepayers

Aug. 2 — “But Senate Bill 1976 was meant to help such vulnerable Texans, despite the loss of that assistance,” said R.A. Dyer, a policy analyst for the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, a non-profit consumer advocacy group. “Like Mayor Turner, we’re now concerned that SB 1976 could be implemented in such a way as to have the opposite effect.”

— Houston Chronicle

 

Dallas Business Journal: Dallas-Fort Worth’s technology ‘brain gain’

Aug. 1 — Dallas-Fort Worth is adding tech employees at a rate that far surpasses the amount of tech degrees produced by the area, according to CBRE.

The region’s “brain gain” is second only to the San Fransisco bay area and shows DFW’s ability to retain its growing number of tech graduates while attracting new talent to the area.

— Dallas Business Journal

 

The Hill: Senators introduce bipartisan bill to bring high speed wireless to rural America

Aug. 1 — A pair of Senators introduce bipartisan bill to bring high speed wireless to rural America.

— The Hill

 

Lampasas Dispatch-Record:Ruling issued in water dispute

Aug. 1 — Addressing a dispute between the city of Lampasas and Kempner Water Supply Corp., the Public Utility Commission of Texas ruled Friday that Lampasas is entitled to provide water to its business park — which is within the city limits on U.S. Highway 183 South. The utility commission also ruled that Kempner Water Supply is not entitled to compensation from the city of Lampasas.

— Lampasas Dispatch-Record

 

Washington Post: We only have a 5 percent chance of avoiding ‘dangerous’ global warming, a study finds

July 31 — In recent years, it has become increasingly common to frame the climate change problem as a kind of countdown — each year we emit more carbon dioxide, narrowing the window for fixing the problem, but not quite closing it yet. After all, something could still change. Emissions could still start to plunge precipitously. Maybe next year.

— Washington Post

 

911 problems in four N. Texas cities resolved

July 31 — Residents in four North Texas cities, including Rowlett, Garland, Wylie and Plano, experienced 911 issues Monday morning.

— WFAA

 

Utility Dive: EPA planning ‘inside the fence’ Clean Power Plan replacement

Aug. 1 — Trump administration officials are planning to replace the Clean Power Plan with a narrower set of regulations aimed at thermal efficiency improvements at coal-fired power plants, S&P Global Market Intelligence reports.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: The post-merchant power sector: What unintentional re-regulation could look like

Aug. 1 — But if the struggles of the merchant generation model are well understood, less so is what a power sector without a thriving merchant presence would look like. Such upheavals in organized power markets have not been seen since the days of the California energy crisis, and the contours of the power sector in a post-merchant world remain an open question.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: US utilities knew of climate threat since 1960s

July 31 — U.S. electric utilities were warned of the threats of climate change as early as the 1960s and funded cutting-edge research into the subject in subsequent decades, according to a new report from the Energy and Policy Institute.

— Utility Dive

 

New York Times: Utility Helps Wean Vermonters From the Electric Grid

July 29 — Green Mountain Power is trying to turn homes, neighborhoods and towns into virtual power plants, driven by economics as well as environmental goals.

— New York Times

 

Tyler Morning Telegraph: Rate increases start Tuesday for Liberty Utilities customers, if judge approves motion

July 31 — Liberty Utilities customers in Tyler and Smith County can expect to see rate increases on their September bills, if a judge approves a motion filed Monday.

— Tyler Morning Telegraph

 

San Antonio Express-News: Railroad Commissioner Sitton plays by own rules

July 31 — When Ryan Sitton was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in 2014, he was a political newcomer, but hardly new to the world of oil and gas. Sitton is a mechanical engineer, and the first engineer to serve as a Railroad Commissioner in decades.

— San Antonio Express- News

 

Houston Chronicle: Calpine confirms it’s negotiating sale

July 28 — Houston-based Calpine Corp., one of the nation’s largest merchant power companies, said Friday that its second-quarter loss widened from the previous year and confirmed that it is negotiating a sale with a potential buyer.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: Wind farm construction grows across the U.S.

July 28 — The number of wind farm projects under construction in the U.S. has grown by 40 percent since this time last year, according to a second quarter analysis released Thursday by the American Wind Energy Association, a national trade group.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Utility Dive: Trump formally establishes infrastructure council, with focus on energy

July 26 — The President announced in January that two real estate developers, Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth, would head the council. In addition to claims of secret meetings, Food & Water Watch is alleging the two developers have conflicts of interest as they have “longstanding personal and financial ties to the President” along with current projects that could benefit from the council’s work. The group filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Hiding in plain sight: Aggregated DERs in wholesale power markets

July 24 — Across the nation, DER providers and grid operators are facing similar issues that prevent aggregated resources from offering their full suite of benefits to the grid. New work to resolve the communications and operational issues from Tisdale’s think tank could provide way forward, but in the meantime the resources are getting a foot in the door through the well-established role of demand response providers.

— Utility Dive

 

Texas Tribune: Here’s where the Texas Legislature is on Gov. Abbott’s special session issues

July 27 — Gov. Greg Abbott called the 85th Texas Legislature back for a special session beginning July 18, initially to pass legislation needed to keep five state agencies in operation, and then to address a longer list of proposals for everything from restroom regulations to local tree ordinances. The governor opened a total of 20 for consideration; this is our constantly updated look at the Legislature’s progress during the 30-day special session.

 Texas Tribune

 

Bloomberg: Congress Is Still Fighting Over Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

July 27: Congressional Republicans renewed their effort to save the traditional light bulb, passing a measure to block federal energy standards that have come to symbolize government overreach for many consumers but are largely embraced by manufacturers as the cost of the newer bulbs has plummeted.

— Bloomberg

 

Inside Climate News: U.S. House Hacks Away at Renewable Energy, Efficiency Programs

July 27 — One area of energy funding the House spared as it voted on its ‘minibus’ budget bill was fossil fuel research. The Trump White House wanted deeper cuts.

— Inside Climate News

 

Utility Dive: US utilities knew of climate threat since 1960s

July 31 — U.S. electric utilities were warned of the threats of climate change as early as the 1960s and funded cutting-edge research into the subject in subsequent decades, according to a new report from the Energy and Policy Institute.

— Utility Dive

 

New York Times: Utility Helps Wean Vermonters From the Electric Grid

July 29 — Green Mountain Power is trying to turn homes, neighborhoods and towns into virtual power plants, driven by economics as well as environmental goals.

— New York Times

 

Bloomberg: Growth-Starved Utilities Have Found a New Way to Make Money

July 26 — Here’s how it works: Some utilities that for years contracted to buy electricity from wind and solar farm owners are now shifting away from these so-called power purchase agreements, or PPAs. They’re instead seeking approval from state regulators to buy the assets outright and recover the costs from customers through rates. While the takeovers are being branded as a cheaper way of securing power, saving ratepayers millions in the end, they also guarantee profits for utilities.

— Bloomberg

 

Mesquite News: Oncor launches new alert tool

July 27: Oncor recently launched My Oncor Alerts, a service that allows their customers to learn the status of their power via email, text or voice messages. This is a free tool that also gives customers an idea of when their power might be back on and get status updates on an outage.

— Mesquite News

 

Reuters: Elliott Tries a Texas Charm Offensive to Outdo Berkshire’s Oncor Bid

July 27 — While Elliott Management Corp. tries to cobble together enough money to beat Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s $9 billion bid to buy one of America’s largest transmission operators, it has another problem to deal with: the state of Texas.

— Reuters

 

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Lawsuit blames Oncor for the deaths of two boys who were electrocuted

July 27 — They were exploring a wooded area about 20 yards into a thicket of trees and brush just beyond a ball field, family members have said. Alex stepped in a puddle that was electrified by downed power lines on March 29. Isaiah tried to save him but received an electric shock as well.

— Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

Dallas Morning News: Brothers electrocuted by downed power line suffered ‘painful and agonizing death,’ lawsuit alleges

July 27 — The family of two Fort Worth brothers who were electrocuted in March by a downed power line are suing Oncor, Texas’ largest energy provider.

— Dallas Morning News

 

WFAA 8: Family of brothers killed by downed power line files lawsuit against Oncor

July 27 — The family of two brothers who died after being electrocuted by a downed power line after a storm in Fort Worth has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the electric company Oncor.

— WFAA 8

 

Murphy Monitor: Council rejects proposed Oncor rate increase

July 27 — The Murphy city council is doing their part to keep citizens’ electric bills on pace with the current rates from energy provider Oncor Electric.

— Murphy Monitor

 

Washington Post: Family of 2 young brothers killed by downed power line sues Texas electric company

July 27 — So on a Wednesday evening in March after school, the two brothers, Isaiah and Alex, ages 11 and 12 respectively, strolled through the park with their friends. A strong storm had hit the Fort Worth area the night before, on March 28, so there were puddles in some parts.

— Washington Post

 

RTO Insider: NextEra Seeks $275 million for failed Oncor bid

July 27 — NextEra Energy CEO Jim Robo said Wednesday that the Florida-based company would “vigorously” pursue a $275 million termination fee it says it is owed following a failed attempt to acquire Texas utility Oncor.

— RTO Insider

 

Platts: US ERCOT record July power peakloads expected through weekend

July 26 — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas was expected to set new load highs three days in a row from Wednesday, propelled by the continued heat in the region.

— Platts

 

Reuters: Elliott wins more time to beat Berkshire Hathaway’s Oncor deal

July 26 — A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Wednesday gave Elliott Management Corp 11 more days to formalize its plans to bid on Oncor Electric Delivery Co before the court approves the $9 billion offer for the utility from Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

— Reuters

 

Houston Public Media: Texas Oil And Gas Regulator Pushes For Vote On FERC Nominees

July 26 — Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian wants action on nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

— Houston Public Media

 

Utility Dive: EPA proposes keeping current nitrogen dioxide emission standards

According to EPA, NO and NO2 emissions from coal and gas-fired electric generating units, one of the primary sources of the pollutants, are expected to decline over the next decade as newer units come online to meet various Clean Air Act requirements.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Trump formally establishes infrastructure council, with focus on energy

July 26 — According to the order, the council will study and make recommendations to the president regarding government funding of infrastructure projects in several sectors: surface transportation; aviation; ports and waterways; water resources; renewable energy generation; electricity transmission; broadband; and pipelines.’

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Gas plant makers embrace batteries with hybrid machines

July 25 — GE now has four of units in operation in pollution non-attainment zones in California, and has several more installations “in the works,” Eric Gebhardt, vice president of systems and innovations at GE, said.

— Utility Dive

 

The Guardian: US energy secretary Rick Perry duped by Russian pranksters to talk about pig manure

July 26 — Suspicions might have been raised when the 22-minute conversation turned to a claim by the pretend PM that the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko had invented a new biofuel made from home-brewed alcohol and pig manure, according to a translation.

— The Guardian

 

Tyler Morning Telegraph: Details in the works for Liberty Utilities rate case settlement, rates forthcoming

July 25 — The details of the settlement reached in the Liberty Utilities rate case remained confidential Tuesday as involved parties work out the terms.

— Tyler Morning Telegraph

 

Texas Monthly: NRG Energy Selling Off Its Renewable-Energy Projects

July 25 — NRG Energy, an independent power producer, has announced a plan to restructure the company.

— Texas Monthly

 

Texas Tribune: Persistence pays off for rural Texans besieged by sky-high power prices

July 25 — The proposal, which requires approval by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, would transform Sharyland ratepayers into Oncor customers.

— Texas Tribune

 

Utility Dive: ERCOT hits 3 peakload records in one day during heat wave

July 25 — But while ERCOT officials do not expect trouble in meeting demand this season, the region does face shrinking summer reserve margins.

– Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Texas muni to shut Gibbons Creek coal plant for most of the year

July 25 — The Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) told the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) about its plans.

— Utility Dive

 

Killeen Daily Herald: Killeen council approves contract for water-sewer plan

July 25 — The Killeen City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to approve a $338,400 contract with Freese & Nichols to develop the 2017 Water and Wastewater Master Plan at its regular meeting.

— Killeen Daily Herald

 

Power Distribution Utilities Network: Oncor agrees to swap utility assets with Sharyland and SDTS

July 25 — Texas electric utility Oncor Electric Delivery Company has agreed to swap assets with Sharyland Utilities and Sharyland Distribution & Transmission (SDTS) in a transaction worth nearly $400m.

— Power Distribution Utilities Network

 

Houston Chronicle: Gulf Coast wind farms become vital to Texas energy mix

July 25 — Nearly a decade ago, Duke Energy placed several weather towers along the Gulf Coast to measure winds coming off the Gulf of Mexico. Duke’s engineers were soon struck by one particular characteristic of the sea breezes: They blow like clockwork.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Inside Climate News: Is a Conservative Climate Movement Heating Up?

July 25 — Optimists see hope in growing GOP support for renewable energy, but many Republicans still steer clear of anything that says climate change.

— Inside Climate News

 

El Paso Times: Pickett’s bill seeks to stop higher electric rates for solar homes

July 21 — Texas state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, doesn’t think El Paso Electric should charge residential customers with solar systems more for electricity than non-solar customers.

— El Paso Times

 

Rueters: Prospect of Trump tariff casts pall over U.S. solar industry

July 25 — U.S. solar companies are snapping up cheap imported solar panels ahead of a trade decision by the Trump administration that could drive up costs and cloud the fortunes of one of the economy’s brightest stars.

— Reuters

 

Utility Dive: DER aggregation 101: For utilities, smaller resources can go a long way

July 24 — In the summer, when cooling demand spikes and a utility needs to reduce load, turning down one air conditioner doesn’t help much. Turning down a thousand would help, however. Which is a simple enough thing to realize, but difficult to execute, manage and monetize.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: ERCOT hits 3 peak demand records in one day during heat wave

July 25 — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas set three new records for July peak demand last week in three consecutive hours, ultimately peaking at 68,799 MW between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on July 20.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Gas plant makers embrace batteries with hybrid machines

July 25 — Manufacturers are responding to the market by combing energy storage with conventional generating plants.

— Utility Dive

 

Midland Reporter Telegram: Oncor, Sharyland to swap assets

July 24 — Oncor receives retail customers, distribution network; Sharyland receives 258 miles of transmission lines.

— Midland Reporter Telegram

 

Tyler Morning Telegraph: Settlement reached in Liberty Utilities rate case

July 24 — A settlement in the Liberty Utilities rate case has been reached, according to staff from state Rep. Matt Schaefer’s office.

— Tyler Morning Telegraph

 

Lubbock Avalanche Journal: State Sen. Kel Seliger pleased at Sharyland Utilities progress

July 24 –State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, said on Monday that he is pleased with recent progress regarding Sharyland Utilities, L.P. and Sharyland Distribution & Transmission Services, L.L.C. that could result in significant savings for Sharyland consumers, according to a news release.

— Lubbock Avalanche Journal

 

NPR: $400M Utilities Swap Could Benefit Northeast Texas

July 23 — A $400 million deal signed Monday between Oncor, Texas’ largest utility services provider, and the West Texas-based Sharyland Utilities is expected to significantly lower electricity bills for Sharyland customers, including several in parts of Hunt and Collin counties.

— NPR

 

Dallas Morning News: Thousands near Greenville and in West Texas are about to get much cheaper electric bills

July 24 –About 54,000 Texans can expect significantly lower electric bills thanks to a $400 million deal struck between Texas’ largest regulated utility, Oncor, and Sharyland, a Hunt family-owned utility.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Big Spring Herald: Sharyland Utilities announces transaction with Oncor and agreement on rate case dismissal

July 24 – Sharyland Utilities, L.P. (Sharyland or Sharyland Utilities) announced today that it and Sharyland Distribution & Transmission Services, L.L.C. (SDTS) have signed a definitive agreement with Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC (Oncor) to exchange their retail distribution assets and retail distribution operations for a set of Oncor’s transmission lines in West and Central Texas. In connection with this agreement, Sharyland and SDTS, along with other parties, have agreed to dismiss Sharyland’s current rate case upon closing of the Oncor transaction. This proposed transaction means that Sharyland’s approximately 54,000 retail distribution customers.

— Big Spring Herald

 

Dallas Business Journal: Hunt does Sharyland utility swap with Oncor

July 24 — One year after withdrawing from a deal to buy Oncor, the Hunt family has struck smaller swap agreement with the Dallas utility giant Monday, which is expected to lead to smaller electricity bills.

— Dallas Business Journal

 

Utility Dive: Straight shootin’: Buffett bid for Texas utility reflects regulatory desire for simplicity

July 24 — Unlike other offers, Oncor would retain its corporate structure under Berkshire Hathaway ownership. But a well-heeled rival could complicate the sale again.

— Utility Dive

 

KHOU TV: Can your power be turned off in heat wave?

July 24 — A viewer emailed our Verify Team with a question about losing power on one of the hottest days of the year.

— KHOU TV

 

Utility Dive: National Academies report finds grid vulnerable to cyber, physical attacks

July 24 — A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concludes the United States’ electric grid is vulnerable to a range of threats, including terrorism or natural disasters that could potentially cause long-term and widespread blackouts.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Texas muni to shut Gibbons Creek coal plant for most of the year

July 24 –The Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) told the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) that it plans to operate the 470 MW coal-fired Gibbons Creek power for only five months of the year.

— Utility Dive

 

WFAA — Battle over wastewater injection wells in Lake Arlington

July 21 — In paperwork filed with the Texas Railroad Commission to withdraw its application, the company did not explain its reasoning.

— WFAA

 

Platts: Peakload soars across much of US as heat bakes Midwest, East Coast

July 21 — Grid operators stretching from the Midwest to East Coast this week were seeing some of the highest loads so far this year as hot weather was driving cooling demand.

— Platts

 

Dallas Morning News: NextEra suing Texas regulators who rejected its offer to buy Dallas’ Oncor

July 22 — The lawsuit, filed in Austin state court last week, comes as Berkshire Hathaway and Wall Street hedge fund Elliott Management are in a race to buy Oncor. It’s not clear how the litigation might affect that.

— Dallas Morning News

 

El Paso Times: Pickett’s bill seeks to stop higher electric rates for solar homes

July 21 — Texas state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, doesn’t think El Paso Electric should charge residential customers with solar systems more for electricity than non-solar customers.

— El Paso Times

 

Houston Chronicle: Houston company helps H-E-B keep the lights on

July 20 — The next time the wind blows and the lights go out along the Texas coast, odds are your local H-E-B will be open for business, providing food, ice and a place to cool down, thanks to a new power player in Houston.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Platts: Texas city tells ERCOT it plans to operate coal-fired plant seasonally

July 20 — The Texas city of Garland, near Dallas, has told the Electric Reliability Council of Texas it plans to mothball its 470-MW coal-fired plant on a seasonal basis, starting October 17.

— Platts

 

Dallas Morning News: Is Warren Buffett a white knight for Texas’ Oncor? Don’t forget the ‘battle of billionaires’

July 20 — When Buffett bids for a company, he’s often welcomed as a white knight. With Oncor, he’s stepping forward after two previous buyouts were derailed by Austin regulators. Four major stakeholder groups in Texas, including the Public Utility Commission staff, have already endorsed the deal.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Tyler Morning Telegraph: Ratepayers come out as winners in ongoing Oncor acquisition battle

July 14 — While the sale price may be lower, the two new offers are an improvement for consumers over the previous proposal, as well as an earlier bid by Hunt Consolidated. NextEra, a Florida-based energy company, had valued Oncor at $18.7 billion but that bid was rejected by the state Public Utility Commission. The three-member commission was hesitant about an agreement that would force Oncor to surrender its independence. NextEra had insisted on controlling Oncor’s board, and it wanted to weaken ring-fence requirements that protected the company during Energy Future’s bankruptcy.

— Tyler Morning Telegraph

 

Brownsville Herald: City commission votes to review gas proposal

July 12 — The city, along with the City of McAllen and other Rio GrandeValley cities, has contracted Geoffrey Gay of Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle and Townshed and Karl J. Nalepa of ReSolved Energy Consulting, L.L.C., to review the Texas Gas Company’s proposal and make recommendations regarding reasonable rates.

— The Brownsville Herald

 

Dallas Morning News: If Warren Buffett’s billions meet Oncor’s wish list, here’s how Texas stands to gain

July 14 — The energy unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. recently agreed to buy Oncor for $18 billion, including debt.

Dallas Morning News

 

KXAN: Energy costs in Texas are at a 10-year low for some, according to TCAP report

July 12 — That report, released by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, indicated that “average residential electricity prices in areas of Texas with retail electric competition have declined during a recent 10-year period, while average prices have increased during that same period in areas exempt from electric competition.”

— KXAN

 

Reuters: Elliott tells court it was barred from seeking Oncor financing

July 12 — An attorney for Elliott Management on Wednesday complained to a bankruptcy court judge that the owner of Texas’s largest power distribution business did not provide the investment fund with information needed to line up financing for its offer of more than $18 billion to buy the company.

— Reuters

 

KFDX: According To A New Report, Electric Prices Are Down

July 12 — The data was compiled through 2015, the most recent year with available statistics. “One of the takeaways from the report is there’s good news and bad news,” the report’s author, TCAP policy analyst R.A. “Jake” Dyer, said.

— KFDX

 

Dallas Business Journal: Oncor deal may signal ‘turning point’ for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire

July 11 — Wall Street is wondering how the deal for Dallas-based Oncor indicates who will succeed the Oracle of Omaha.

— Dallas Business Journal

 

MyHighPlains.com: Electricity Costs Across Texas

July 12 — To be clear, prices in the noncompetitive markets are lower but the competitive markets are closing the gap, according to the TCAP report.

— MyHighPlains.com

 

San Antonio Business Journal: CPS Energy below state average for electricity rates

July 12 — A statewide study released Tuesday by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power shows that electricity rates in San Antonio remain well below the state average.

— San Antonio Business Journal

 

Houston Public Media: Report Finds “Mixed Results” From Electric Market Deregulation

July 11 — The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power describes it as a “good news/bad news” report.

— Houston Public Media

 

Bloomberg: Berkshire’s Oncor Bid Is $300 Million Short, Elliott Management Says

July 11 –If Berkshire raised its offer to buy Oncor by $300 million, Elliott has “suggested that they’d take the money and go away,” CEO Bob Shapard said Tuesday. “It’s not that big of a number. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that Berkshire should make it up. It just means it’s not that big of a number.”

— Bloomberg

 

Houston Chronicle: In race for cheapest power, regulated rates still win, study finds

July 11 — Residential electricity prices have fallen over the last decade for Texans who live in areas with competitive electricity markets, according to a study released Tuesday by the non-profit Texas Coalition for Affordable Power.

— Houston Chronicle

 

New York Times: The Deep Industry Ties of Trump’s Deregulation Teams

July 11 — President Trump entered office pledging to cut red tape, and within weeks, he ordered his administration to assemble teams to aggressively scale back government regulations.

— New York Times

 

Energy Wire: Cap and trade is alive, and it might grow under Trump

July 10 — The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative once labored in the shadows of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. No longer. President Trump’s dismantling of climate initiatives has pushed America’s only multistate cap-and-trade program to the fore of U.S. carbon-cutting efforts.

— Energy Wire

 

Houston Chronicle: West Texas transmission line planned to meet growing power demand

July 10 — Oil and gas development and the expansion of utility-scale solar farms are driving the construction of a new transmission line in West Texas.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Texas Monthly: A Texas Company Wants to Spread Wind Power Across the U.S.

July 8 — Clean Line Energy Partners, much like myriad other companies based in Houston, is jockeying for the opportunity to provide energy to the rest of the country. “If you have gas in one area, you put it in a pipeline and ship it to where it’s needed,” says Sarah Bray, the Vice President of Communications at the company. “You put coal on a train and bring it to where it’s needed, delivering it to a market and it goes through the local utility grid. That’s kind of our business model.”

— Texas Monthly

 

New York Times: Elliott Hedge Fund Seeks to Challenge Buffett’s Bid for Energy Company

July 10 — The hedge fund Elliott Management is hoping to block Warren E. Buffett’s $9 billion takeover bid for Energy Future Holdings, the bankrupt Texas power giant, by working on an even higher offer.

— New York Times

 

Reuters: Elliott proposes $18.5 billion Oncor deal to top Buffett

July 10 — Elliott Management Corp, the largest creditor of the bankrupt parent of Oncor Electric Delivery Co, unveiled a plan on Monday to best Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s (BRKa.N) deal for the Texas utility with a bid worth $18.5 billion, including debt.

— Reuters

 

Washington Post: Towns sell their public water systems — and come to regret it

July 8 — Neglected water infrastructure is a national plague. By one estimate, U.S. water systems need to invest $1 trillion over the next 20 years. Meanwhile, federal funding for water infrastructure has fallen 74 percent in real terms since 1977, and low-interest government loans have not filled the gap.

— Washington Post

 

New York Times: Rooftop Solar Dims Under Pressure From Utility Lobbyists

July 8 — Utilities argue that rules allowing private solar customers to sell excess power back to the grid at the retail price — a practice known as net metering — can be unfair to homeowners who do not want or cannot afford their own solar installations.

— New York Times

 

Energy Wire: Warren Buffett’s $9B Oncor bid boosts chastened utility

July 10 — Warren Buffett might finally be happy to talk about Energy Future Holdings Corp., despite a bad investment years ago.

— Energy Wire

 

Odessa American: Odessa power plant bought for $350M

July 7 — The parent company for TXU Energy and Luminant will acquire an Odessa gas-fired power plant for $350 million in cash from a unit of Koch Industries in a deal that forecasts continued abundance of Permian Basin natural gas at a low price.

— Odessa American

 

Reuters: Buffett bets big on power with $9 billion Oncor deal

July 7 — If the all-cash purchase wins approval from federal and state regulators and a bankruptcy judge, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy unit will assume control of one of the largest U.S. electricity transmission companies.

— Reuters

 

Bloomberg: Berkshire Wastes No Time Wooing Texas to Close Oncor Deal

July 7 — Berkshire announced Friday that it’ll buy Oncor in a deal said to be valued at about $17.5 billion. And the company is already promising measures that’ll shield Oncor from potential bankruptcy at other units and an independent board with sole authority over dividends, an emailed document from Oncor shows.

— Bloomberg

 

New York Times: Buffett Needs to Be Bigger in Texas

July 7 — His Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate is taking a second stab at Oncor, a Texas electricity provider, and its parent company, Energy Future, six years after a $2 billion investment led to hefty losses. Two other suitors previously failed to reach accord with regulators, however. Creditors, too, may require some sweet talk.

— New York Times

 

Houston Chronicle: Berkshire Hathaway makes deal to win PUC approval of Oncor acquisition

July 7 — While the PUC must review the proposed deal, the agreement could bring Berkshire success where other companies failed, said Geoffrey Gay, a lawyer for the Steering Committee for Cities Served by Oncor, a group that advocates for cities and consumers. Gay signed the agreement and helped draft it.

— Houston Chronicle

 

CNBC: Warren Buffett may have some competition for latest deal from an activist hedge fund manage

July 7 — Elliott Management Corp., the activist hedge fund may be gumming up the works. Reuters reported Friday afternoon that the firm, run by billionaire Paul Singer, may consider a rival bid for Oncor. Elliott is a major creditor of Energy Future Holdings, which owns most of Oncor and has been working its way through bankruptcy court.

CNBC

 

Texas Monthly: Warren Buffett Set to Become a Texas Energy Tycoon

July 9 — Buffett’s latest investment is a $9 billion, all-cash deal to buy Energy Future Holdings, the parent company of Texas electric grid giant Oncor. The subsidiary is the biggest utility in Texas, according to the New York Times, clocking in at 10 million customers.

— Texas Monthly

 

Dallas Morning News: Berkshire Hathaway wants Texas electricity giant Oncor and may have the power to buy it

July 7 — But the offer already has the support of the PUC staff, office of the Texas Public Utility Counsel, Texas Industrial Energy Consumers and the Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Houston Chronicle: Renewable energy surpasses nuclear power – for now

July 6 — Electricity generated by wind, solar and hydroelectric sources in March and April exceeded power provided by nuclear plants for the first time in more than 30 years, when nuclear plants were still coming into the power mix, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Texas Tribune: Warren Buffett unveils deal to buy big piece of Texas electric grid

July 7 — Warren Buffet is making a play for Texas’ largest electric transmission utility. Berkshire Hathaway, his multinational conglomerate, has unveiled an deal to buy Oncor.

— Texas Tribune

 

Longview News Journal: Electric deregulation a complicated process

QUESTION: Will Longview ever stop deregulation on electric energy in local homes and apartments etc. and give homeowners, business owners and renters a chance to select their own electric company?

— Longview News-Journal

 

Reuters: Buffett bets big on energy with $9 billion Oncor buy

July 7 –Warren Buffett’s move to spend $9 billion on his largest energy sector acquisition reflects his long-standing drive to diversify his Berkshire Hathaway Inc and deepens his commitment to electricity as a means to boost profit.

— Reuters

 

Dallas Morning News: Texas’ largest power producer bets big on natural gas, buys Odessa plant for $350 million

July 7 — The company bought two natural gas power plants while Luminant’s old parent company, Energy Future Holdings, was in bankruptcy.

— Dallas Morning News

 

CNBC: Berkshire Hathaway Energy is close to a $17.5 billion deal for Oncor, report says

July 6 — Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy is nearing a $17.5 billion deal to acquire Oncor, according to people familiar with the matter.

— CNBC

 

Vox: Obama didn’t crush US coal, and Trump can’t save it

July 5 — In his campaign, Donald Trump seized on that resonance with an odd kind of fervor, using miners as props in political rallies and promising, again and again, to put them back to work. He has managed to make the fate of coal miners a synecdoche for the fate of the white working class writ large.

— Vox

 

Utility Dive: Gas plant construction costs fell 30% in 2015

July 6: The cost to construct new electricity capacity has been broadly declining, according to an analysis of data from 2013 to 2015, conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Pressed duck: Clipping the curve with energy storage

July 5 — Advocates say, given the right incentives, energy storage could help flatten the duck. The duck, of course, is the “duck curve” made famous by the California ISO as a representation of what happens when mid-day solar power peaks and then begins to fade and drop off, leading to a sharp spike in evening demand.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: NEI: Nuclear plants not ‘penetrated’ by cyberattacks

July 6 — In a report released last week, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said nuclear power plants were among the targets of a hacking campaign that dated back to at least May.

— Utility Dive

 

KUOW: After Surges In West Texas, ERCOT Pushes A Plan To Expand Transmission Lines

July 6 — The group that manages almost all of the Texas electric grid has decided it’s a good idea to build out more transmission lines in West Texas. That in itself might not sound like a big deal, but the reason behind it is. KUT’s Mose Buchele joins Morning Edition host Jennifer Stayton to explain.

— KOUW

 

Utility Dive: Texas regulators say it’s time to move past NextEra’s bid for Oncor

July 5 — The Public Utilities Commission of Texas rejected NextEra Energy’s proposal to to purchase Oncor Electric out of bankruptcy for a third time, and a brief memorandum indicates regulators may be tiring of the proceeding.

— Utility Dive

 

Dallas Morning News: McAllen announces run for Texas Railroad Commission

July 5 — Roman McAllen announced via social media Tuesday that he plans to run as a Democratic candidate for the Texas Railroad Commission.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Bloomberg: As the temperatures rise, Texas wind power cools down

July 5 — Wind farms – which now account for about a fifth of the state’s power mix – are forecast to generate significantly less electricity this week as the heat builds and keeps turbines from spinning. Wind generation may peak at about 5,900 megawatts on Thursday and 6,900 megawatts Friday, less than two-thirds of what they totaled a week earlier, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT.

— Bloomberg

 

Houston Chronicle: High winds on hot days could help lower electric bills

July 5 — Texas is redefining wind – transforming it from a fickle energy resource into something that power companies and utilities might even call reliable.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: El Paso case could set the path for rooftop solar

July 4 — Utility in West Texas proposes rate structure that would put additional charges in the bills of its customers with rooftop panels.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: El Paso case could set the path for rooftop solar

July 4 — Utility in West Texas proposes rate structure that would put additional charges in the bills of its customers with rooftop panels.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: U.S. still leans heavily on fossil fuels for power

July 5 — The rapid expansion of wind and solar power in the U.S. can often obscure another reality: the country still leans heavily on fossil fuels.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Public Media: West Texas Transmission Line Project Takes A Step Forward

July 3 — The project calls for new high-voltage lines across five sparsely-populated counties near the New Mexico border.

— Houston Public Media

 

Times Record News: City fights Oncor electric rate hike

July 3 — Wichita Falls and 158 other cities are members of the Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor that serves as the primary advocate for the public to the Public Utility Commission, courts and other legislative bodies concerning electricity regulation.

— Times Record News

 

Amarillo Globe-News: Xcel proposes fuel surcharge, would be fifth rate increase since October

June 30 — Xcel Energy proposed a $1.48 fuel surcharge to adjust to natural gas market prices on Friday, the fifth increase the company has enacted or proposed since October 2016

— Amarillo Globe-News

 

Utility Dive: Third time the charm? NextEra asks Texas regulators to approve Oncor acquisition

June 30 — Regulators cited concerns about the independence of the utility’s board and the possibility of increased risk for ratepayers, while NextEra did nothing to alleviate those concerns in its rehearing requests.

— Utility Dive

 

KGBT TV: Utility assistance program seeks funding for low-income households

July 2 — A Hidalgo County agency is seeking additional funds to help low-income families pay their bills.

— KGBT TV

 

Texas Tribune: The Texas solar industry is growing. Some fear an international trade case could end that.

June 29 — Cheap, imported solar panels have fueled growth in the solar industry in Texas, and reinvigorated the careers of laid-off oilfield workers. Some industry leaders fear a trade case will increase prices and end that growth.

— Texas Tribune

 

Reuters: Investors slowly start to push climate change up their agenda

June 30 — Investors are slowly starting to push companies to reduce their carbon footprint and help the world meet targets on limiting global warming that were agreed in the 2015 Paris climate talks.

— Reuters

 

Utility Dive: FERC Commissioner Honorable steps down today

June 30 –Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Colette Honorable steps down today, marking the end of a two-and-a-half year term after her appointment by former President Obama in 2014. Her departure leaves one active regulator at the agency as President Trump’s three nominees await confirmation by the Senate.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Senate fast-tracks new version of bipartisan energy reform bill

June 30 — Leaders on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday introduced a new version of their bipartisan energy proposal that stalled in a conference committee with the House late last year.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Trump announces nuclear policy review in DOE speech

June 29 — President Trump announced a “complete review” of U.S. federal nuclear energy policy in a speech at the Department of Energy on Thursday, among other federal energy initiatives.

— Utility Dive

 

PBS: Trump lays out plan for ‘energy dominance’

June 29 — President Donald Trump said he would expand oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans as part of a broad strategy to make the U.S. “energy dominant” in the global market.

— PBS

 

Houston Chronicle: Value of rooftop solar up for debate again in El Paso

June 30 — El Paso Electric, the city-run utility that serves the far West Texas city and parts of New Mexico, is again at the center of a debate over how to value power from rooftop solar panels.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Dallas Business Journal: Florida utility giant blasts regulators for rejection of Oncor purchase

July 28 — NextEra Energy is making one final plea with the Texas Public Utility Commission to reconsider its decision earlier this year that rejected the Florida power company’s $18.7 billion acquisition of Dallas-based Oncor.

— Dallas Business Journal.

 

Bloomberg: PUC again rejects NextEra’s request for rehearing on Oncor bid

June 29 — NextEra Energy failed to persuade skeptical utility regulators in Texas to take another look at its stalled $18.4 billion bid for Oncor Electric Delivery.

— Bloomberg

 

Harker Heights Herald: City Council denies Oncor rate hike

June 30 — The Harker Heights City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to deny a rate hike proposed by Oncor, the city’s electric utility delivery company.

— Harker Heights Herald

 

Vox: Exxon’s support for a carbon tax is the first step in big oil’s long, negotiated surrender

June 27 — It made news last week when ExxonMobil, along with a slate of other big companies, including other oil giants, backed a plan for a substantial, rising US carbon tax.

— Vox

 

Utility Dive: Perry touts all-of-the-above strategy in push for ‘energy dominance’

June 28 — Just before the week kicked off, the Trump administration made a notable shift in their energy rhetoric. Instead of “energy independence” the key theme in the administration is “energy dominance.”

— Utility Dive

 

Houston Chronicle: What natural gas prices have done to wholesale power costs

June 29 — In recent years, the abundance of cheap natural gas has lowered electricity prices in Texas, a benefit that has trickled down — somewhat — to customers.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: NextEra again challenges PUC’s rejection of Oncor Acquisition

June 28 – NextEra Energy is making one final plea with the Texas Public Utility Commission to reconsider its decision earlier this year that rejected the Florida power company’s $18.7 billion acquisition of Dallas-based Oncor.

— Houston Chronicle

 

GreenTech Media: Solar Costs Are Hitting Jaw-Dropping Lows in Every Region of the World

June 27 — GTM Research expects a 27 percent drop in average global project prices by 2022, or about 4.4 percent each year. Those improvements are not limited to the U.S. They are occurring globally, and in some cases resulting in even sharper price declines than those America is experiencing.

— GreenTech Media

 

Utility Dive: Cyberattacks targeted US nuclear sites this year

June 27 — United States officials are investigating multiple cyberattacks that unsuccessfully targeted nuclear generation sites sometime this year, E&E News reports. The event has been code named “Nuclear 17.”

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: As gas plants struggle, California seeks new flexible capacity strategies

June 27 — With up to 6 GW of gas plants at risk of closure, energy planners are scrambling for new compensation techniques and zero-carbon alternatives.

— Utility Dive

 

Dallas Morning News: NextEra won’t take Texas’ no for an answer in quest to be state’s power giant

June 28 — The Florida company that wants to buy Texas’ largest regulated utility refuses to give up on its $18.7 billion offer to buy Oncor.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Utility Dive: US mayors pass resolution to target 100% renewable energy by 2035

June 27 — The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) on Monday approved a resolution supporting a 100% renewable energy goal by 2035, and launched the Ready for 100 campaign to support the utilization of more clean power.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: Nuke financial woes are a ‘market failure’

June 27 — The trend of retirements and financial woes of the United States nuclear fleet is a result of market failure and the weakness of the merchant generator business model, according to panelists at the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s annual conference.

— Utility Dive

 

Texas Tribune: Texas should listen to its own scientific task force about methane

June 27 — When burned, natural gas has about half the CO2 emissions of coal (that’s good!), but the release of methane into the atmosphere can greatly erode that benefit.

— Texas Tribune

 

Utility Dive: New Brattle study touts flexible grid, dismisses ‘baseload’ hype

June 27 — A report prepared by the Brattle Group for the Natural Resources Defense Council outlines the myriad reasons some coal and nuclear plants are considering retirement and cautions against focusing on the plants’ so-called “baseload” attributes.

— Utility Dive

 

Energy Wire: Nuclear breach opens new chapter in cyber struggle

June 27 — U.S. authorities are investigating a cyber intrusion affecting multiple nuclear power generation sites this year, E&E News has learned.

— Energy Wire

 

New York Times: Carbon in Atmosphere Is Rising, Even as Emissions Stabilize

June 26 — On the best days, the wind howling across this rugged promontory has not touched land for thousands of miles, and the arriving air seems as if it should be the cleanest in the world.

— New York Times

 

Utility Dive: Proposed solar tariffs could put 47 GW of planned installations at risk

June 27 — A trade dispute over the price of imported solar panels could mean serious trouble for the United States industry, according to new analysis fom GTM Research. The firm estimates more than 47 GW of solar installations could be at risk if Suniva wins its case before the International Trade Commission.

— Utility Dive

 

VictoriaAdvocateVictoria Advocate: Electronic well log saves time, money for commission

June 26 — The new well log electronic filing system has reduced the burden on operators and saved both the industry and Railroad Commission thousands of dollars and man-hours in its first six months of use, according to a news release from the commission.

— Victoria Advocate

 

HoustonChronicleHouston Chronicle: Texas Railroad Commission’s funding nearly doubled

June 26 — The agency has been chronically underfunded in recent years as the oil bust reduced the fees it collects and increased the number of abandoned well sites it has had to clean up. Operating at a deficit over the past year, the agency’s cut its budget by $1.3 million a month, froze hiring, cut back plans to update its aging technology and focused on funding its two core functions: permitting wells and inspecting them.

— Houston Chronicle

 

NewsWest9: Extra power crews headed to Permian Basin to assist with outages

June 23 — According to Sue Mercer with ONCOR, crews from Metroplex are headed to the area to assist with power restoration.
As of 9 p.m., there were just over 9,900 customers without power across the ONCOR system, with 6,703 customers in Midland and 2,390 customers in Odessa.

— NewsWest9

 

Weatherford Democrat: Earthquake rattles Parker County again

June 23 — For the first time since a swarm of earthquakes shook up northeast Parker County in late 2013 and early 2014, area residents felt a 2.8- magnitude earthquake on Wednesday.

— Weatherford Democrat

 

HoustonChronicleHouston Chronicle: Western earthquakes likely connected to wastewater injection

June 22 — An increase in earthquakes in the Rocky Mountain and Oklahoma region is likely tied to an uptick in wastewater injection, a process used to dispose of water in oil and gas operations, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
— Houston Chronicle

 

Malakoff News: Malakoff City Council adopts ACSC Resolution

The council adopted a resolution authorizing the continued participation with the ATMOS Cities Steering Committee to fund regulatory and activities related to Atmos Energy Corporation.

— Malakoff News

 

Mesquite News: Mesquite Agrees to Gas Rate Case Settlement.

June 21 — The ordinance to accept the negotiated settlement between the Atmos Cities Steering Committee (ACSC) and Atmos Energy Corporation passed.

— Mesquite News

 

KRGV: ERCOT Keeping Close Eye on Valley’s Electric Usage

June 22 — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas manages the electric flow for about 24 million Texans. They said they’re keeping a close eye on the Valley for now.

— KRGV

 

EE-Publishing-300x104Climate Wire: Energy CEOs tell Pruitt they want carbon regulation

June 22 — Dozens of power industry executives who flew to Washington for a Monday meeting with U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had three minutes apiece to tell him whether they want to replace the Clean Power Plan.

— Climate Wire

 

utilitydiveUtility Dive: Merchant generation industry ‘in crisis’ across US

June 22 — The merchant generation industry is seriously compromised, says a new report from Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP and the Power Research Group, and some large generators could be “headed toward a second round of bankruptcies in less than twenty years.”

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveUtility Dive: Utility customer engagement goes digital

June 19 — Almost any commercial transaction consumers have today includes a digital, online, and/or mobile option. Customer satisfaction measurably rises with interactions that are personal, self-service, and available 24-7. Like the rest of the retail world, utilities are turning to digital to engage customers in these ways.

— Utility Dive

 

UtilityDiveUtility Dive: DOE grid study deadline delayed as Perry defends budget proposal

June 22 – Secretary of Energy Rick Perry yesterday testified before the Senate Committee on Appropriations in the second of three hearings where he is scheduled to appear this week. Questioning focused on the White House’s proposed cuts to research and energy efficiency, and the development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site in Nevada.

— Utility Dive

 

Copperas Cove Leader-Press: City seeks to deny proposed Oncor rate increases

Copperas Cove Leader PressJune 21 — During tonight’s Copperas Cove city council meeting, city staff are presenting a resolution for approval which would be sent to Oncor. Copperas Cove belongs to the Steering Committee of Cities Served By Oncor, and those communities are denying Oncor’s request for a rate increase.

–Copperas Cove Leader-Press

 

Lubbock Avalanche JournalLubbock Avalanche-Journal: Lubbock Power & Light advances smart meters in upcoming budget

June 21 — Lubbock’s Electric Utility Board adopted a budget for next year that calls for the funding of citywide advanced electric meters, or smart meters.

— Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

 

HoustonChronicleHouston Chronicle: When Texas produced (almost) no oil

June 21 — There was a time when Texas, one of the predominant oil and gas producers in the world, produced close nothing at all.

— Houston Chronicle

 

utilitydiveUtility Dive: Perry defends proposed DOE cuts, baseload review at House hearing

June 21 — Perry told the Subcommittee on Energy and Water that the budget reflects “difficult choices,” but he also indicated the Trump administration does not expect all of the cuts to survive Congressional review.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveUtility Dive: Hold ’em or fold ’em: New nuclear build permits hold ‘option value’ for five utilities

June 21 — Recent news about nuclear power plants would not seem to be conducive to building a new nuclear plant, but five electric companies are keeping their plans for new reactors alive.

— Utility Dive

 

Bloomberg LogoBloomberg: Texas Is Too Windy and Sunny for Old Energy Companies to Make Money

June 20 — As attractive a renewable-energy concept as wind power is, it’s plagued by a fundamental flaw. It blows the most in the dead of night, precisely when there’s the least demand for electricity. That’s true for just about every wind-blown spot across the U.S., from the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains in California to the coastal plains of North Carolina.

— Bloomberg

 

ReutersReuters: Big Companies are America’s hungriest wind and solar power users

June 21 — Major U.S. corporations such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and General Motors Co (GM.N) have become some of America’s biggest buyers of renewable energy, driving growth in an industry seen as key to helping the United States cut carbon emissions.

— Reuters

 

UtilityDiveUtility Dive: Utilities in hot water: Realizing the benefits of grid-integrated water heaters

June 20 — Water heaters offer storage capabilities at a fraction of the cost of batteries. The challenge is getting everyone a piece of the returns.

– Utility Dive

 

UtilityDiveUtility Dive: Utilities are finding new ways to communicate with their consumers

June 20 — Remember when no one wanted to talk with their utility? That’s not the case anymore.

— Utility Dive

 

ReutersReuters: Wind, solar energy have not harmed U.S. power grid: industry study

June 20 — With the Trump administration expected to publish an analysis that could undermine the U.S. wind and solar industries, two renewable energy lobbying groups on Tuesday released their own study saying new energy sources pose no threat to the country’s power grid.

— Reuters

 

the-washington-post-logoWashington Post: A bitter scientific debate just erupted over the future of America’s power grid

June 19 — Scientists are engaged in an increasingly bitter and personal feud over how much power the United States can get from renewable sources, with a large group of researchers taking aim at a popular recent paper that claimed the country could move beyond fossil fuels entirely by 2055.

— Washington Post

 

Bloomberg LogoBloomberg: Trump EPA Chief Met Energy CEOs at Trump Hotel Amid Rollback

June 16 — U.S. environmental chief Scott Pruitt met in March with oil executives over dinner in Trump International Hotel, just as he was moving to relieve the industry of one of its biggest Obama-era regulatory burdens: a requirement to curtail methane leaks.

— Bloomberg

 

VOXVox: The global coal boom finally seems to be winding down

June 16 — Since 2000 or so, China — along with, to a lesser extent, India and other developing nations — has been on a coal binge, building coal-fired power plants at a breakneck pace. Coal is what powered the country’s ludicrous, double-digit growth rates and lifted millions of rural Chinese out of poverty.

— Vox

 

HoustonChronicleHouston Chronicle: Texas regulators to put information of oil company penalties, complaints online

June 16 — While the Railroad Commission of Texas oversees one of the most prolific oil and gas regions in the world, the agency’s hordes of data and documents remain snared in a filing system that has yet to make it to the 21st century.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Star-Telegram LogoFort Worth Star-Telegram: BlueStone drops bid to drill Lake Arlington injection well

June 16 — BlueStone Natural Resources II is dropping a plan to drill a saltwater injection well near Lake Arlington, a project that was widely criticized by residents and city officials as a threat to the area’s water supply.

— Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

RTOInsiderRTO Insider: US Resource Adequacy Good for Hot Summer

June 15 — Planning reserve margins across most of the U.S. are expected to be adequate for a hotter-than-normal summer, with only ISO-NE barely missing its NERC target, FERC said in its annual summer reliability report released Thursday.

— RTO Insider

 

utilitydiveUtility Dive: Utility-scale solar prices drop below $1/watt for first time

June 12 — In 2016, solar was the largest source of new capacity additions, largely due to a wave of installations amid uncertainty whether the federal investment tax credit would be extended. But rooftop solar will not witness the same explosive growth as seen in previous years.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveUtility Dive: The utility sector’s business case for deep decarbonization

June 13 — A board of CEOs told reporters that President Obama’s Clean Power Plan would raise costs and potentially present reliability issues. In the words of AEP’s CEO Nick Akins, the proposed regulation needed to be reworked so that its carbon targets are “reasonable and rational.”

— Utility Dive

 

Bloomberg LogoBloomberg: EPA’s Pruitt Blamed Obama for Paris Deal at G-7 Climate Summit

June 12 — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt blamed former President Barack Obama for forging a bad Paris climate deal, leaving the U.S. with the job of extricating itself, the German environment minister said.

— Bloomberg

 

VOXVOX: “Do you believe?” is the wrong question to ask public officials about climate change

June 9 — The question Trump and his appointees should be asked again and again is not “Do you believe?” but “What is your plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?” You say you “care.” You say the administration is “environmentally responsible.” So what are you going to do about it?

— Vox

 

HoustonChronicleHouston Chronicle: Texas power plants among nation’s top emitters of carbon dioxide

June 16 — Power plants in Texas are among those that lead the nation in emissions that contribute to global warming and pollution, according to a new report.

— Houston Chronicle

 

NewsWest9: ERCOT approves transmission project in West Texas, will span 101 miles

June 14 — More counties will be powered in West Texas.The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has approved a transmission project in West Texas. This will include two new 345-KV lines that will help address future reliability concerns.
— NewsWest9

 

NBC5_DFWDallas Questions Whether Atmos Rates are ‘Excessive’

June 14 — Dallas city council members will introduce a resolution on Wednesday that will order Atmos Energy to show cause “demonstrating the reasonableness” of its natural gas distribution rates in the city.

— NBC DFW

 

new-york-times-logoNew York Times: How Retiring Nuclear Power Plants May Undercut U.S. Climate Goals

June 13 — Over the last decade, a glut of cheap natural gas from hydraulic fracturing has driven hundreds of dirtier coal plants in the United States out of business, a big reason carbon dioxide emissions fell 14 percent from 2005 to 2016.

— New York Times

 

VOXVox: Meet the fossil fuel all-stars Trump has appointed to his administration

June 14 — Here are a few of the men and women with notable connections to the energy industry who will be running the federal government for the next few years in the Department of Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy (DOE), State, and National Economic Council.

— Vox

 

utilitydiveUtility Dive: Energy storage hits record growth in Q1 2017, but slowdown likely

June 13 — The first quarter was the biggest quarter ever in terms of energy storage installations, but it could also be the biggest quarter of the year, according to the latest version of the U.S Energy Storage Monitor released by GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveUtility Dive: Malware traced to Ukraine grid attacks could be used to target US grid

June 14 — Malware that was used in a 2015 cyberattack resulting in power outages in Ukraine could be modified by its Russian developers to target the United States, according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Dragos.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveUtility Dive: Will California’s 100% renewables goal survive the political process?

June 14 — The state’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are at 27.6% renewables and well on their way to meeting the present 50% renewables by 2030 mandate, according to the most recent California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) numbers.

— Utility Dive

 

Texas TribuneTexas Tribune: San Antonio pushes to lower emissions despite delayed regulations

June 13 — After the EPA announced that the implementation of new, stricter standards for ozone levels in the air will be delayed a year, the city of San Antonio is forging ahead with plans to reduce emissions.

— Texas Tribune

 

GTM: Building the ‘Solar Protection Factor’ Into an Increasingly Green-Powered Grid

June 12 — Utilities need to prepare for the rise of wind and solar power and the retirements of baseload power plants, and that includes building “solar protection factors” into their long-term planning.

— Greentech Media

 

energywire_finalEnergy Wire: Advocates go to court as Trump unwinds climate policy

June 13 — In a platter of pending challenges to fossil fuel development on public lands, environmentalists in the West see an opportunity to corner the Trump administration into taking a closer look at climate impacts.

— Energy Wire

 

HoustonPublicMediaHouston Public Media: Report Shows Progress Under Deregulated System

June 13 — Still, the consumer advocacy group Texas Coalition for Affordable Power has repeatedly documented more expensive electricity in places like Houston, where there are a lot of options.

— Houston Public Media

 

TexasClimateNewsAmericans give thumbs down to exiting Paris climate accord
June 8 — President Trump’s action was a big loser among Democrats and independents. But it scored well among Republicans, which led some analysts to suggest it might help shore up support among his most dedicated fans.

— Texas Climate News

 

UtilityDiveTexas PUC plans August workshop on generators’ market reform proposal

June 9 — Texas regulators are planning a technical workshop in August to examine possible changes to its energy marketplace in response to concerns over persistently-low prices.

— Utility Dive

 

Small businesses in clean energy sector still hope for bestAP LOGO

June 7 — Small business owners who install solar panels or help customers use clean energy don’t seem fazed by President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, saying they expect demand for their services will still keep growing.

— Associated Press

 

hillLawmakers push bill to target ‘super pollutants’

June 8 — A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill aiming to reduce pollutants with an out-sized impact on climate change.

— The Hill

 

Business leaders push back against Trump’s energy research cuts

June 8 — A group of business and energy industry leaders is pushing back against President Trump’s proposed cuts to federal energy research and development programs.
— The Hill

 

Senate committee advances Trump’s FERC nomineesUtilityDive

June 6 — A Senate committee today voted to advance four nominees President Trump has tapped serve in positions impacting energy policy, including filling vacant seats at the quorum-less Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

— Utility Dive

 

Bloomberg LogoIf Trump Gets His Way, the World May Not Know If U.S. Emissions Rise

June 7 — The president’s budget request to Congress would eliminate or gut core programs across the federal government that track the heat-trapping gases. If those cuts go ahead, the government may not be able to tell if emissions are rising or falling.

— Bloomberg

 

PlattsTexas PUC officially ends NextEra’s quest for Oncor
June 7 — The Public Utility Commission of Texas on Wednesday finalized its order denying a rehearing of NextEra Energy’s application to buy the state’s largest transmission company, Oncor Electric Delivery.

— Platts

 

Denton Record-ChronicleAtmos customers in Denton to get rate hike next month

May 30 — Denton is one of 56 cities in a coalition that negotiates with Atmos Energy over natural gas price increases every year. This year, Atmos requested the entire coalition pay $57.4 million more for gas than last year. The coalition’s attorney countered with $32.1 million, and the two parties settled on a $48 million increase this year.

— Denton Record-Chronicle

 

Bloomberg LogoTexas Rejects NextEra’s Second Attempt at Oncor Takeover

June 6 — Texas regulators rejected NextEra Energy Inc.’s $18 billion bid to buy the state’s largest transmission operator, Oncor Electric Delivery Co., for a second time.

— Bloomberg

 

DMN LogoTexas regulators shoot down NextEra’s $18.7 billion offer for Oncor again

June 7 — A new PUC order filed in the case corrected some small details in the original order but confirmed the rejection of the offer to purchase Oncor, which owns and operates power lines serving 3.4 million customers, including most of North Texas.

— Dallas Morning News

 

HoustonChronicleTexas wind power fights for dominance with coal, natural gas

June 7 — While most of Texas’ power still comes from coal and natural gas, in recent years those power plants are seeing unprecedented competition from wind power, according to a report released last week by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees 90 percent of Texas’ electricity grid.

— Houston Chronicle

 

BusinessWireOncor Cities Steering Committee: Legislation is Great News for Hikers, Bikers and Texas Taxpayers

May 30 — -In one of the last acts of the 85th Texas Legislature, lawmakers on Sunday gave the final go-ahead to House Bill 931 to help expand the state’s networks of hike-and-bike trails — but at virtually no cost for the underlying land.

— Business Wire

 

energywire_finalScott Pruitt and the truth about coal

June 6 — U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt walked back his claim that the coal sector had added “almost 50,000 jobs” since the fourth quarter yesterday. An EPA spokeswoman said Pruitt had been referring to the broader mining sector that includes other industries.

— Energy Wire

 

utilitydiveEIA: Power sector coal consumption drops to lowest point since 1984

June 5 — Power plants in the United States consumed 677 million short tons of coal last year, the smallest amount since 1984, according to new analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

— Utility Dive

 

MidlandReporterTelegramRRC’s Christian says climate science ‘isn’t settled’

The oil and gas industry often is cited as one culprit of climate change because the burning of hydrocarbons puts carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which studies show prevents heat from escaping through the atmosphere and warms the planet. The result is a melting of the polar ice caps, rising sea levels and harsher, less predictable weather.

— Midland Reporter-Telegram

 

ERCOT expects record energy demand this summer

June 2 — ERCOT, which controls the electric grid for most of Texas, estimates it will see a peak demand of 72,934 MW this summer, beating out a record set last August of 71,110 MW. However, officials say the grid has the capacity to handle up to 81,860 MW, meaning the demand shouldn’t affect consumers.

— KSAT ABC 12 News

 

austin_american_statesman1Christi Craddick: How revisions could make NAFTA even better for Texas

June 6 — When I think about the upcoming NAFTA renegotiations, I think about the origins of the Railroad Commission of Texas, which I have the honor of serving.

The Texas Legislature created the commission in 1891. Its charge was to oversee the state’s transportation industry, specifically railways.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

HoustonChronicleAtmos Energy hiked gas rates while over earning by millions

June 2 — In recent years, Dallas-based Atmos Energy has raised its gas utility rates while still earning millions more than a state cap allows.

— Houston Chronicle

 

UtilityDiveIs renewable energy threatening power reliability?

June 1 — Low and negative prices in wholesale power markets are the subject of intense scrutiny in the power sector today.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveSunrun enters Texas solar market with virtual net metering offer

June 2- Sunrun, one of the largest residential solar installers in the United States, announced yesterday it will begin operating in Texas through a partnership with Engie Resource’s retail company Think Energy.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveUtilities post-Paris: Uncertainty rules power sector as Trump shatters climate consensus

June 2 — If President Trump’s aim was to further isolate the United States, yesterday certainly did the trick.

The president’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord was lauded by American conservative activists and coal interests — and nearly no one else.

— Utility Dive

 

HoustonChronicleTrail advocates cheer bill that brings cities, utilities together

May 31 — It’s about to be easier for cities in Texas to develop hike and bike trails along utility corridors, though Houston’s experiment also shows it still takes a long time to get something built.

— Houston Chronicle

 

TexasClimateNewsStay or go? Texas Republicans offer competing advice on Paris climate pact

May 28 — A cursory Google search doesn’t reveal whether or not Donald Trump is a fan of “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” a durable 1982 hit by the British punk band The Clash.

— Texas Climate News

 

TexasClimateNewsPowerhouse investors tell Exxon (and Trump): Get serious about climate change

June 1 — As President Donald J. Trump played footsie with pulling out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement Wednesday morning, the head of the nation’s biggest oil company sent him a message from downtown Dallas: Don’t do it.

— Texas Climate News

 

HoustonChronicleCenterPoint wins rate hikes even as profits soar past state cap

May 31 — CenterPoint Energy’s gas utility last year earned profits that were hundreds of thousands of dollars above the cap set by state regulations. But that didn’t stop the company from asking for – and getting – higher rates to collect even more money from its Houston-area customers.

— Houston Chronicle

 

PlattsERCOT real-time power prices spike above $1,000/MWh

May 30 — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas footprint saw real-time prices jump to four-digit territory Tuesday as power demand rose above forecast levels and reserve capacity was expected to fall below acceptable levels.

— Platts

 

Gilmer MirrorCities Applaud Adoption of Hike and Bike Legislation

May 30 — As one of the last acts of the 85th Texas Legislature, lawmakers on Sunday gave their final go-ahead to House Bill 931 to help expand the state’s networks of hike-and-bike trails — but at virtually no cost for the underlying land.

— Gilmer Mirror

 

HoustonChronicleWomen dominate leadership at agency overseeing male-dominated oil industry

May 26 — As an adventurous kid growing up in Conroe, Kim Corley thought she’d become a pecan farmer, inspired by the trees in her parents’ yard. Then, she dreamed of working in construction, but her company of choice, Caterpillar, wouldn’t take her. Eventually, fresh out of college, she went from office to office in Houston, résumé in hand, dropping in to oil and gas companies and asking for a job.

– Houston Chronicle

 

PlattsERCOT real-time power prices spike above $1,000/MWh

May 30 — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas footprint saw real-time prices jump to four-digit territory Tuesday as power demand rose above forecast levels and reserve capacity was expected to fall below acceptable levels.

— Platts

 

LongView News JournalLongview approves Atmos rate hike

May 26 — Natural gas rates are rising 7 percent for Atmos Energy Corp. customers in Longview.

City Council members approved the increase by a 6-1 vote Thursday, after Longview and other cities negotiated Atmos down from an 8 percent increase it first proposed in March.

–Longview News Journal

 

hillInternet lobbying group is skeptical about new privacy bill

May 24 — The bill, which was put forth by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), would require internet service providers and web companies such as Facebook and Google to get consumers’ permission before sharing their data with advertisers.

— The Hill

 

DMN LogoDallas agrees to smaller rate hike than Atmos wanted, setting up a likely showdown

May 24 — Atmos Energy had wanted the Dallas City Council to approve a $10.7 million rate hike. But in the end, the council agreed to give the city’s gas provider less than half of what it wanted, setting up a likely legal battle between Atmos and Dallas City Hall in Austin.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Report: Vistra Energy in talks to purchase fellow generator Dynegyutilitydive

May 22 — Independent power producer Vistra Energy is in the early stages of discussions to purchase generator Dynegy, the Wall Street Journal reports, an inter-regional merger that would create one of the largest power producers in the United States.

— Utility Dive

 

HoustonChronicleGov. Abbott signs bill reauthorizing the Railroad Commission

May 23 — On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1818, part of a state initiative to review and reauthorize agencies every 12 years. A committee of lawmakers, known as the Sunset Commission, oversees the review of each agency; the commission’s staff proposes suggestions for agency changes in its review. Last year, the Railroad Commission had its third Sunset review since 2010, after several attempts to change the agency failed to get through the legislature. House Bill 1818 reauthorizes the commission for another 12 years.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Odessa American

Power outage reported in West Odessa

May 24 — A distribution power line in West Odessa short circuited Wednesday and triggered a power outage that affected 2,300 customers in the area but power was restored by 9:30 p.m.

— Odessa-American

 

Texas TribuneWest Texas churches pray to Legislature for electricity rate relief

May 17 — Bruce Parsons, pastor of Champion Baptist Church, said he felt deflated when he delivered the church’s latest monthly electricity bill to his treasurer.

It came to nearly $800, an enormous sum for a 60-member congregation that rarely spends more than a handful of hours each week beneath the steeple of its building in Roscoe, about 50 miles west of Abilene.

— Texas Tribune

 

DallasNewsLogoTXU, Luminant owner building one of Texas’ largest solar plant

May 17 — Dallas-based Vistra Energy has purchased what would be the state’s second largest solar plant when it opens next year, the company announced Wednesday.

The 180-megawatt Upton 2 project could provide electricity to 27,700 homes during hot weather or nearly double that when demand is average.

— Dallas Morning News

 

DallasNewsLogoThese Texas startups want to take the confusion out of electricity shopping

May 17 – R.A. “Jake” Dyer, a policy analyst for the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, which advocates on behalf of cities and other governments, said his organization supports Power to Choose since it has a public mission. With these new services, he said, it’s difficult to “part the veil.”

–Dallas Morning News

 

HoustonChronicleUnder Trump, U.S. less attractive for renewable energy investment

May 17 — The Trump administration’s plans to dismantle the Clean Power Plan and its waffling on the Paris climate accords could push renewable energy investors away from the United States, according to a report released this week from the London-based accounting firm Ernst and Young.

— Houston Chronicle

 

GOP Sen. Grassley questions DOE baseload review in letter to Perry

May 18 — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a perennial supporter of wind energy, has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy questioning the methods and assumptions behind a review of the electric grid ordered last month.

— Utility Dive

 

DMN LogoDallas City Council members push back against proposed Atmos rate increase

May 15 — The Dallas City Council and Atmos Energy could be headed for a legal showdown over the gas company’s latest proposed fee hike.

After more than $18 million worth of rate increases since 2013, Atmos would like to get another $10.7 million from Dallas customers to help pay for its infrastructure improvements. But company reps told city officials they’d settle for $7.8 million, or roughly $2.46 more on the average customer’s monthly gas bill.

— Dallas Morning News

 

energywire_finalNew era beckons as Texas regulator exits

May 15 — Donna Nelson wraps up her time as a Texas utility regulator today, ending a tenure that spans more than eight years and signaling a new era for the state’s power sector.

— EnergyWire

 

Strange Bedfellows: City Council Foes Unite To Fight Atmos Over Rising Gas Costs

May 16 — Over the last four years, Atmos Energy, the company that provides natural gas to residents of the city of Dallas, has come to the city for more than $18 million in rate increases. On Monday they asked for another $7.8 million from the city, an amount they say represents a discount.

— Dallas Observer

 

voxBy 2020, every Chinese coal plant will be more efficient than every US coal plant

May 16 — President Trump and his administration have claimed that the Paris climate accord is a “bad deal” because it requires much more of the US than of China. This reflects an enduring conservative paranoia that the Chinese are getting one over on us.

–Vox

 

US signs international declaration on climate change despite Trump’s past statements

May 11 — While President Trump has talked tough in the past about his skeptical views on climate change, his administration appears to be taking a more cautious approach to the issue on the world stage in the early days of his presidency.

ABC News

 

energywire_finalChange is in the air for independent power players

May 12 — U.S. independent power producers, no stranger to uncertainty, have entered a period that may bring dramatic change. This week offered the latest potential scenarios.

— Energy Wire

 

Energy Future Backs NextEra in Bid to Save Oncor Deal

May 12 — Energy Future Holdings Corp., under pressure to find a way to end a long and expensive stay in bankruptcy, is throwing its weight behind NextEra Energy Inc.’s bid to salvage its deal for the company’s transmissions business, Oncor.

— Dow Jones Newswires

 

UtilityDiveTrump to nominate Powelson, Chatterjee to FERC

May 9 — President Trump will nominate Robert Powelson, a member of the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission, and Neil Chatterjee, a longtime aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to seats on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

— Utility Dive

 

UtilityDiveRansomware rampage highlights cyberattack fears in power sector

May 15 — While U.S. utilities remained unscathed, major companies like Avangrid severed external communication ties with their international subsidiaries in an effort to ward off any infection from the malicious software, said to be developed originally by the United States National Security Agency.

— Utility Dive

 

UtilityDiveEIA: Natural gas, renewables squeeze nuclear capacity

May 15 — Nuclear capacity in the United States will decline over the next three decades, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, even accounting for plant closures currently on the books.

— Utility Dive

 

TRUMP COUNTRY IS FLOODING, AND CLIMATE IDEAS ARE SHIFTING

May 15 — The first priority was, of course, keeping everyone safe, as floodwaters got so high that city crews stationed a canoe to navigate one of the lower downtown streets earlier in May.

Reopening the riverboat casino came a close second in this Mississippi River town 25 miles north of St. Louis, between the confluence of the Illinois and Missouri rivers.

— ClimateWire

 

PlattsCalpine, NRG post report that seeks changes in ERCOT pricing, settlement rules

May 10 — Calpine and NRG Energy filed Wednesday a commissioned report with the Texas Public Utility Commission that recommends changes to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ pricing and settlement rules.

— Platts

 

Local leaders approve emissions pact for Tradinghouse power plant permit

May 10 — The power giant Luminant will limit the emissions of a smog-forming pollutant at its proposed gas plant at Tradinghouse Lake under a deal approved this week with local officials.

— Waco Tribune-Herald

 

Bloomberg LogoNextEra Gives Texas 14 Reasons to Revisit Oncor Takeover

May 9 — NextEra Energy Inc. has 14 reasons why Texas utility regulators came to the wrong conclusion when they rejected its $18.4 billion acquisition of Oncor Electric Delivery Co., the state’s biggest transmission operator.

— Bloomberg

 

ReutersNextEra asks Texas to reconsider bankrupt power company deal

May 8 — Florida utility company NextEra Energy Inc asked Texas regulators on Monday to reconsider a decision that threatens to kill its roughly $18 billion bid to acquire bankrupt Energy Future Holding Corp, the majority owner of Oncor, Texas’ largest power network.

— Reuters

 

Texas TribuneLegislature passes much-criticized bill reforming oil and gas regulatory agency

May 9 — A Democratic senator on Tuesday made a last-ditch effort to beef up a bill aimed at reforming and reauthorizing the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency — legislation environmental groups and watchdogs have decried as toothless.

— Texas Tribune

 

austin_american_statesman1Legislature says Texas Railroad Commission name doesn’t need changing

May 9 — The Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, will keep its name.

House Bill 1818, passed by the Texas Senate Tuesday and previously approved by the House, makes minor tweaks to the agency, as part of a process mandated by law to periodically review the operations of state agencies.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

DallasNewsLogoNextEra wants Texas regulators to reconsider its Oncor offer after ‘capricious’ rejection

May 9 — The Florida energy giant trying to buy Oncor — the state’s largest regulated utility — said Monday that Texas regulators violated a state law in rejecting the deal as not in the public’s interest.

— Dallas Morning News

 

utilitydiveTrump to nominate Powelson, Chatterjee to FERC

May 9 — President Trump will nominate Robert Powelson, a member of the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission, and Neil Chatterjee, a longtime aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to seats on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

— Utility Dive

 

Bloomberg LogoDon’t Hold Your Breath for Congress to Deal With Net Neutrality

May 4 — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wants to gut Obama-era net neutrality rules, but even he says the matter is best left to someone else: the lawmakers in Congress.

— Bloomberg

 

hillFCC chair: Net neutrality advocates misrepresenting the truth

May 5 — Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai says advocates of net neutrality are misrepresenting his plan to roll back the controversial Obama-era internet rules.

— The Hill

 

 

WSJLogoSEC Probes Solar Companies Over Disclosure of Customer Cancellations

May 3– Federal regulators are investigating whether solar-energy companies are masking how many customers they are losing, according to a person familiar with the matter.

— Wall Street Journal

 

nprInside The Debate Over Repealing Curbs On Methane Leaks

May 3 — A deadline is fast approaching for Republican lawmakers who want to undo an Obama-era regulation that aims to limit the emissions of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — from energy production sites on public lands.

— National Public Radio

 

EPA chief Pruitt: Coal plants necessary to ensure grid reliabilityutilitydive

May 5 — The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said coal-fired power plants are key to preserving electricity reliability in an appearance on the Fox Business network this week.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveAs utilities embrace DERs, pilot projects emerge as key element of compromise

May 4 — New survey results from over 600 electric utility professionals show that the power sector is embracing distributed energy resources (DERs) — but doing so in its characteristic tentative fashion.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveGreen designs: Corporate demand pushes new generation of utility green tariffs

May 4 — Utilities are rolling out more sophisticated green tariffs to satisfy corporate sustainability goals. Can they prevent key accounts from defecting to independent suppliers?

— Utility Dive

 

hillSenate Republicans introduce anti-net neutrality legislation
May 1 — Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced a bill Monday to nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules.

“Few areas of our economy have been as dynamic and innovative as the internet,” Lee said in a statement. “But now this engine of growth is threatened by the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which would put federal bureaucrats in charge of engineering the Internet’s infrastructure.”

— The Hill

 

EXCLUSIVE: Agency responsible for US nukes is lax in fighting fraud, report says

May 1 — The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office issued the audit, requested by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., after high-profile incidents of fraud by the DOE’s contractors, including two at the Hanford Site nuclear reservation in Washington state.

— McClatchy News Service

 

new-york-times-logoTrump Administration’s Push for Gas Exports Faces Market Glut

May 1 — The Trump administration is moving to make the United States the world’s leading exporter of natural gas as a central component of both energy and trade policy.

— New York Times

 

hillPentagon wants offshore drilling ban maintained in eastern Gulf

May 2 — A.M. Kurta, the acting under secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, told a Florida lawmaker in a letter publicly released Monday that military training and related exercises in the eastern Gulf, which borders Florida, necessitate a continuation of Congress’s ban on drilling.

— The Hill

 

utilitydiveGenerators, analysts back CO2 price at FERC technical conference

May 3– Carbon pricing took center stage at the second and final day of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s technical conference on wholesale power markets on Tuesday, as stakeholders searched for ways to integrate state policies into the organized market construct.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveAnxiety common, consensus elusive over power market reforms at first day of FERC conference

May 2 — Anxiety was rife and consensus elusive during the first day of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s technical conference on state policies and wholesale market operations on Monday.

— Utility Dive

 

ReutersU.S. wind industry has biggest first-quarter installs in eight years

Texas, the country’s top state for wind power capacity, was the top location for wind installations in the first quarter, followed by Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina and Michigan.

— Reuters

 

Commissioner counterattacks at criticism of energy industry

May 2 — Elitist intellectuals are distorting the truth about the energy industry, Wayne Christian says, and it’s up to the leaders in oil, gas and coal to counter the falsehoods.

“We need to start educating,” the newly-elected Texas Railroad Commissioner told the men and women gathered at Kilgore College Tuesday for the eighth annual East Texas Energy Symposium.

— Kilgore News Herald

 

Microgrids could whet the big appetite for clean energy in Texas

May 2 — At present, while the average energy prices in the state are below the national average, the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power reported last summer that Texans in deregulated areas are actually paying more for electricity. Therefore greater transparency is needed: despite the state largely being energy independent, residential energy prices still largely remain high even when compared with other states in the West South Central and West North Central Regions. This is costing consumers nearly $25 billion in lost savings and proves Texas does not have an efficient electricity market.

— GreenBiz

 

Last-minute congressional budget compromise saves EPA, ARPA-E funding

May 1 — The bipartisan budget compromise reached by Congress over the weekend salvaged funding for both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and clean energy research done by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

— Utility Dive

 

EIA: Power sector sees decline in carbon intensity

May 2 — The industrial and power sectors produced the least amount of carbon dioxide per unit of primary energy consumed last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

— Utility Dive

 

Dallas Business JounralEnergy Future Holdings’ spinoff to move hundreds of workers from downtown Dallas

April 26 — Dallas-based Vistra Energy Corp. — which recently emerged from bankruptcy as a spin-off of Energy Future Holdings — plans to illuminate its company culture with a big real estate consolidation in Irving.

— Dallas Business Journal

 

Heights council renews franchise agreement with Oncor Electric for city service

April 28 — The Harker Heights City Council on Tuesday agreed to renew its franchise agreement with Oncor Electric Delivery Company, LLC.

This agreement allows Oncor to use existing and future streets, alleys, highways, public utility easements and public property in the city of Harker Heights.

— Harker Heights Herald

 

City improves utility payment capabilities

April 26 — A CCN is issued by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and gives a CCN holder the exclusive right to provide electric, retail water or sewer utility services to an identified geographic area.

City Manager Brad Stafford told council member that attorneys for the Texas Coalition of Cities for Utility Issues had reviewed the resolution.

— The Examiner of Navasota and Grimes County

 

utilitydiveNextEra will ask Texas regulators to reconsider rejection of Oncor acquisition

April 25 — NextEra Energy will continue to pursue its proposed acquisition of Oncor Electric, company officials said yesterday during a first quarter earnings conference call.

— Utility Dive

 

Railroad Commission rejects ranchers’ appeal to reconsider Hilcorp enhanced oil recovery project

April 25 — The Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, rejected on Tuesday an appeal from a Gulf Coast water conservation district to block several injection wells, which local cattle ranchers fear will pollute their groundwater supply.

— Houston Chronicle

 

NextEra will ask Texas regulators to reconsider rejection of Oncor acquisition

April 25 — The company’s bid for Oncor is the second failed attempt to purchase the utility out of the bankruptcy proceeding of its parent, Energy Future Holdings. Regulators rejected an acquisition proposal from real estate firm Hunt Consolidated last year, opening the door for NextEra.

— Utility Dive

 

Is grid defection still a threat to the utility business model?

April 18 — Grid defection has become a much discussed topic in the energy storage world. It has been the subject of academic papers, including a recent paper by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and another paper by researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology, that examined the economics of combining energy storage with rooftop solar panels.

— Utility Dive

 

Reporter’s notebook: Has electricity deregulation hit a wall?

April 22 — Last year the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, which represents a coalition of more than 150 municipal governments across Texas, released a report showing that customers in deregulated regions in Texas paid about 15 percent more than customers in regulated regions like Austin and San Antonio.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Legislation Defends Against Unrestricted Utility Construction

April 24 — Imagine if an electric utility could build a substation wherever it wanted within a city — in the middle of a residential community, for instance, or on top of business property or in a busy downtown area. And your local municipality was powerless to stop it.

— TCCFUI.org

 

Legislation Bad News for City Budgets
April 18 — Bad news for cities, their taxpayers and a possible safety hazard — these are some of the bottom line concerns about two bills currently winding their way through the Texas Legislature.

— TCCFUI.org

 

Distressed-Debt Titans Take $1 Billion Hit From Texas Rebuff

April 21 — Another firm that suffered losses, Paul Singer’s Elliott Management, is doubling down on its bet, snapping up debt discarded by rivals to gain control of negotiations, the people said.

— Bloomberg

 

Report: Trump DOE hits brakes on new energy research funding

April 21 — Since President Donald Trump took office in January, funding opportunities out of the U.S. Department of Energy have slowed significantly compared to the previous administration, E&E News reports, with some offices issuing no new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) at all since the the new administration came to Washington.

— Utility Dive

 

Trump’s ‘credibility problem’ threatens to undermine DOE baseload power review

April 24 — When a Hawaiian judge struck down President Donald Trump’s travel ban for a second time last month, along with the decision was a simple acknowledgement: Everyone had been listening to the president’s campaign rhetoric.

— Utility Dive

 

This interactive map shows why renewables and natural gas are taking over the US

April 21 — Playing around with the map, you can see why natural gas and renewables are likely to provide much of America’s new electric capacity going forward. It also shows why, despite Trump’s promises, it will be extremely difficult to build new US coal plants anytime soon. And you can explore the effects a carbon tax might have on America’s grid — or, say, the development of much cheaper nuclear reactors.

— Vox

 

Texas TribuneTexas Public Utility Commission Chairman Nelson to retire

April 13 — Donna Nelson, who has sat on the three-member commission since 2008 and chaired it since 2011, announced her retirement Thursday at an open meeting. She said May 15 will be her final day on the commission, which oversees electric, telecommunication and water and sewer utilities across Texas.

— Texas Tribune

 

Bloomberg LogoPUC rejects sale of Oncor Electric to NextEra Energy

April 13 — Texas regulators rejected the proposed $18.4 billion sale of Oncor Electric Delivery to NextEra Energy on Thursday, leaving the Dallas utility that maintains power lines in North Texas in bankruptcy.

— Bloomberg

 

DMN LogoWho needs owners anyway? Apparently, not Texas energy giant Oncor Electric

April 14 — It benefits from being in a regulated industry. While falling commodity prices walloped power generators, Oncor was fine. Many consumers don’t realize how much transmission and distribution charges have increased, because low natural gas prices reduced the competitive part of their electric bill.

— Dallas Morning News

 

CenterPoint to raise gas prices for 1 million-plus customers

April 7 – CenterPoint Energy will raise prices for more than 1 million natural gas customers in Houston and several other Gulf Coast cities under a deal announced Friday.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Texas now has earthquake sensors. But will anyone be watching them?

April 10 — Two years ago, the state Legislature sent $4.5 million to the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Houston at Austin to start the program. Legislators, scientists and the oil and gas industry were all concerned with a boost in the number of earthquakes in Texas. Research suggested the quakes were tied to oil and gas wastewater disposal. But industry leaders and Texas Railroad Commissioners, who regulate drilling, said they saw no causal relationship and wanted more data.

— Houston Chronicle
CenterPoint Energy asks to raise electricity distribution rates

April 7 — CenterPoint Energy is asking for a rate increase that would go into effect by Sept. 1 if it is approved, the company said.

CenterPoint’s electric transmission and distribution business, CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, filed an application for distribution cost recovery factor with the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the cities in its service area, the company announced Thursday in a news release.

— KPRC TV

 

A beginner’s guide to the debate over 100% renewable energy

April 4 — The most important political division in the world of climate change is between those who accept the urgency of the problem and those who don’t. Those who don’t are in charge of the federal government these days. Their energy plans are a celebration of fossil fuels.

— Vox

 

Rules on fund-raising are vital for the state commission that regulates oil and gas.

April 5 — The fact that our railroad commissioners are essentially on the payroll of the oil and gas industry is bad enough, but it’s just the most glaring symptom of this powerful agency’s inherent conflict of interest problem. The commission serves as both chief regulator and cheerleader for our state’s energy industry.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Energy agency’s technology is in a time warp

April 5– Texas is one of the world’s leading producers of oil and gas, but its industry regulator lags behind other states when it comes to organizing and making easily available decades of data the agency collects from the industry. All this information is trapped in a patchwork system that includes everything from a mainframe computer to cloud computing, the internet-based system in which data is stored and software shared from remote servers.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Oncor seeks approval in Texas for nearly $317 million rate increase

April 4 — Oncor Electric Delivery Co. in March told the Public Utility Commission of Texas that to allow the company to recover its reasonable cost of service and provide an opportunity for it to earn a reasonable return, Oncor’s total cost of service should be adjusted by about $317 million over rates currently in place, or about 7.5 percent over present revenues.

— Electric Light & Power

 

Houston energy co. plans to boost electric infrastructure serving Texas petrochemical industry

April 4 — CenterPoint Energy has submitted a proposal to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to spend $250 million on electric transmission infrastructure projects to feed growing power demands in the Gulf Coast town south of Houston, according to a release. The company offers electric transmission, natural gas distribution and energy services operations to multiple states around the U.S.

— Houston Business Journal

 

Wind surge in ERCOT prompts PUC ‘concern’ about non-market uplift

April 4 — Hearing about the continuing surge of wind generation in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, a state regulator on Tuesday expressed “concern” about too many out-of-market actions to ensure local reliability threatened by a sudden drop in wind output.

— Platts

 

Straus staves off transgender amendment effort on oil and gas bill

March 28 — Flexing his parliamentary muscle and flashing his antipathy to efforts to regulate the use of bathrooms by transgender people, House Speaker Joe Straus prevented amendments on the matter from reaching the House floor on Tuesday.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

$2B plan aims to put ‘noise’ aside and link Texas, Southeast

March 30 — David Parquet’s business card says he works in San Francisco, but the senior vice president at Pattern Energy Group LP has been spending a lot of time in Texas.

— Energy Wire

 

The only certainty in Trump’s climate orders? More lawsuits

March 30 — President Trump this week signed an executive order that begins rolling back the climate actions taken by his predecessor. Making good on promises to cut regulations and restrictions on energy production, Trump told coal miners on stage with him, “you’re going back to work.”

— Utility Dive

 

Cities and states tackle clean energy, climate after Trump halts environmental action

March 30 — The White House has taken several steps to roll back Obama-era climate and environmental regulations, but state and municipal-level efforts will continue.

–Utility Dive

 

Environmentalists, Energy Industry, Press for Better Texas Railroad Commission Database

March 23 — When Texas lawmakers vote next week, as expected, to reauthorize the Railroad Commission for another 12 years, public interest groups seeking transparency seem likely to find the legislation inadequate.

— Texas Lawyer

 

Environmentalists, Energy Industry, Press for Better Texas Railroad Commission Database

March 23 — When Texas lawmakers vote next week, as expected, to reauthorize the Railroad Commission for another 12 years, public interest groups seeking transparency seem likely to find the legislation inadequate.

— Texas Lawyer

 

Ex-V&E Partner in Limbo, Awaiting Trump’s Nod for Regulatory Post

March 22 — On his Facebook page, Barry Smitherman, the former Texas Railroad Commissioner who recently left Houston’s Vinson & Elkins, posted a photograph of himself and President Donald Trump.

— Texas Lawyer

 

Railroad Commission fines company for not cleaning up oil, wastewater spills

March 23 — The Railroad Commission of Texas fined a Dallas-based oil and gas company more than $100,000 on Tuesday after inspectors found that several spills of oil and toxic water had not been cleaned up after nearly two years.

— Houston Chronicle

 

The new Oncor is going after a new target: homeowners with solar panels

March 24 — The state’s largest regulated utility wants to add a monthly minimum charge for homeowners who have solar panels, wind turbines and storage batteries. That covers about 10,000 customers in the Oncor service area, which includes North Texas.

— Dallas Morning News

 

energy-choice-mattersOncor Seeking To More Than Double Monthly Fixed Charge

March 20 — In a rate case filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, Oncor is seeking to more than double the monthly fixed charged applicable to residential service, which is charged to retail electric providers serving residential customers.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

energy-choice-mattersOncor Proposes Minimum Charge For Residential Customers With Distributed Energy Resources

March 20 — In a new rate case, Oncor is proposing that residential customers with distributed energy resources (DER) with a capacity of three kW or greater be placed on a new rate class that includes a minimum charge.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

utilitydiveFederal agencies brace for Trump climate orders, budget numbers

March 15 — Actions anticipated from President Trump this week could set in motion major federal energy policy changes aimed at rolling back Obama-era climate programs and scaling back the size of key agencies.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveIs 100% renewable energy the best goal to cut power sector emissions?

March 20 — President Trump is expected this week to issue an executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plan, part of a slate of actions designed to undo former President Obama’s climate and energy initiatives. That sentiment, however, has not stopped researchers from contending with the realities of climate change and how to prevent it.

— Utility Dive

 

DMN LogoWatchdog: Delete the word ‘public’ from Public Utility Commission

March 17– Forevermore, I will no longer call the Public Utility Commission by that name. From now on, it’s the UC, not the PUC. These bureaucrats in Austin, as well-intentioned as they believe they are, completely bailed on helping the public.

Dallas Morning News

 

FERC’s quorum problem opens new lines of attack

March 14 — Federal regulators last month rushed to issue environmental decisions on major pipeline projects before their agency fell into a legal limbo, but their hustle has opened those projects to charges that they have not been fully vetted.

— Energy Wire

 

Federal agencies brace for Trump climate orders, budget numbers

March 15 — Actions anticipated from President Trump this week could set in motion major federal energy policy changes aimed at rolling back Obama-era climate programs and scaling back the size of key agencies.

— Utility Dive

 

Trump’s Defense secretary calls climate change a national security risk

March 14 — President Trump’s Defense secretary, James Mattis, believes climate change is a national security threat, according to congressional testimony highlighted by ProPublica on Tuesday.

— The Hill

 

Tillerson used email alias at Exxon to talk climate: New York attorney general

March 14 — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp, used an alias email address while at the oil company to send and receive information related to climate change and other matters, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

— Reuters

 

Arlington rep requests closer hearing for disposal well

March 14 — A state representative for Arlington is asking the Railroad Commission to schedule a public hearing closer to the location of a proposed disposal well.

— Arlington Voice

 

As Oil and Gas Activity Declined in Texas Last Year, So Did Earthquakes

March 2 — The risk of damaging manmade earthquakes striking the Dallas-Fort Worth area is substantially lower than it was last year, according to a new earthquake hazard map released this week by the U.S. Geological Survey.

— KUT 90.5 FM

 

HoustonChronicleFinding places for seismometers in a land of oil and gas

March 2 — The state of Texas wants to stick a seismometer on Terry Hill’s ranch, right next to his deer blind.

Houston Chronicle

 

White House proposes steep budget cut to leading climate science agencythe-washington-post-logo

March 3 — The Trump administration is seeking to slash the budget of one of the government’s premier climate science agencies by 17 percent, delivering steep cuts to research funding and satellite programs, according to a four-page budget memo obtained by The Washington Post.

— Washington Post

 

 

WSJLogoEPA Withdraws Obama-Era Requirement for Companies to Provide Methane Data

March 3 —The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it is withdrawing an Obama-era request that oil and natural gas companies provide information on methane emissions at their operations.

— Wall Street Journal

 

Mayors Offer Ideas for Including Broadband in Trump Infrastructure Investment Plans

March 2 — Mayors and other elected community leaders representing 62 cities and counties sent a this week to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) emphasizing the importance of broadband in Trump infrastructure investment plans, which were part of the president’s campaign agenda.

— Telecompetitor

 

Residents Fight to Stop Oil Company From Drilling Wastewater Injection Well Near Lake Arlington

March 7 — People in Arlington are fighting to keep an oil and gas company’s plans out of their city.

Blue Stone Resources filed an application with the Texas Railroad Commission for a permit to dig a wastewater injection well near Lake Arlington.

— NBCDFW.com

 

utilitydiveReports: White House could shutter EPA’s Energy Star program

March 7 — Among a slew of anticipated changes to energy policy and environmental initiatives, E&E News reports the Trump Administration will move to “close out” the popular Energy Star program, a voluntary labeling initiative for manufacturers of efficient appliances that is maintained through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveFERC plans technical conference on state generation supports in wholesale markets

March 7 — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will hold a technical conference May 1-2 to discuss how state support for certain generation resources affects wholesale power markets in the eastern United States.

Utility Dive

 

FERC to Discuss Wholesale Energy and Capacity Markets

March 7 — On 3/3/17, FERC announced that it will convene a technical conference on wholesale energy and capacity markets. The conference plans to discuss certain matters affecting such markets, as “operated by the Eastern Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) and Independent System Operators (ISOs), and will take place on May 1, 2017 and May 2, 2017.

Texas Electric News

 

Waze and other traffic dodging apps prompt cities to game the algorithms

March 6 — Call it planners versus algorithms.

Smartphone apps like Waze, a godsend for some road warriors because they shave minutes and even hours off their commutes with their creative detours off main highways, are causing headaches for city planners.

— USA Today

 

wfaa Logo911 issues at DPD are getting worse

March 7 — A bank robbery in progress usually brings a quick police response, but not if the callers can’t even get through to 911 and are being placed on hold.

— WFAA

 

hillDems push Trump to keep Obama-era car emissions standards

March 7 — The 12 Democrats, led by Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.), sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt on Tuesday, days after the New York Times and other outlets reported that Pruitt will act as soon as this week to start weakening the greenhouse gas emissions standards.

— The Hill

 

hillGOP chairman seeks $50M to transfer federal land

March 6 — The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee is asking budget writers to set aside $50 million to account for the costs to transfer federal land to state or local governments.

— The Hill

 

Christi Craddick: An energetic outlook for Texas

March 6 — As the newly selected Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, the state regulatory body for the nation’s largest energy sector, I see signs for optimism among energy producers as we progress through 2017.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

RTOInsiderERCOT Sees Adequate Capacity for Spring, Summer

March 5 — ERCOT’s latest seasonal assessment of resource adequacy (SARA) indicates ample generation for spring, with more than 82 GW of generation for an expected peak demand of 58 GW.

— RTO Insider

 

Texas TribuneYears after well explosion, Texas family still waiting for answers from agency

March 6 — A North Texas family is still waiting for answers about whether nearby gas production caused their water well to explode and why Railroad Commission seemed to miss early signs that something like this could happen in their community.

— Texas Tribune

 

Dave Lieber: Are you overpaying for electricity? Probably

March 4 — That idea is supported by hundreds of Texans who at my urging complained to the PUC, and by pro-consumer groups such as Texas ROSE (Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy) and Texas Coalition for Affordable Power. The Dallas Morning News editorial board also voiced support a year ago.

— Denton Record-Chronicle

 

Star-Telegram LogoHow to get incentives to help pay for solar panels or insulation

March 3 –Incentive programs to help area homeowners pay for everything from installing solar panels and smart thermostats to caulking leaky windows or adding attic insulation are on again this spring.

— Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

utilitydiveNRG CEO: Independent power producer model ‘obsolete’

March 1 — NRG Energy lost almost $900 million last year, the result of lower power and gas prices along with a hefty “goodwill impairment charge.”

Utility Dive

 

Texas TribuneExpect fewer man-made earthquakes in Texas, federal agency says

March 1 — The odds that a man-made earthquake will hit Texas this year have plummeted, according to new risk projections from the U.S. Geological Survey that are based on the amount of seismic activity that’s occurred here in the past few years.

Texas Tribune

 

Arlington prepares fight against proposed disposal well

March 2 — A proposed wastewater disposal well in Fort Worth that would be on the western outskirts of Lake Arlington is strongly opposed by the Arlington City Council and several residents.

Arlington Voice

 

Oil/gas well to be drilled off Texoma Parkway

March 1 — The Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission recently unanimously approved a site plan and specific use permit for the well, which will be located at 1220 E. Peyton St., between Loy Lake Road and Texoma Parkway. Roff Operating Co., which owns the property, expects to begin drilling the well in the next several months.

The Sherman-Denison Herald Democrat

 

PlattsERCOT to have enough power this spring, summer: reports

March 1 — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas expects to have sufficient capacity to cover peakload this spring and summer, under most expected demand and generation scenarios, according to reports released Wednesday.

Platts

 

ERCOT expects a hot spring and enough power to keep Texas coolHoustonChronicle

March 1 — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees 90 percent of Texas’ power grid, expects to have more than enough power to get Texans through the spring and summer, despite a trend in warmer-than-average temperatures.

Houston Chronicle

 

utilitydiveAnalysis: Clean Power Plan repeal could cost $600B, result in 120,000 premature deaths

Feb. 28 — Repealing the Clean Power Plan would have significant impacts on the United States’ economy and the health of its citizens, according to new analysis from Energy Innovation, a clean energy think tank.

Utility Dive

 

Bloomberg LogoTrump’s EPA Budget Cuts May Unleash a Backlash as Risks Remain

Feb. 27 — President Donald Trump’s plan to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s $8.3 billion budget would almost certainly mean making deep cuts to programs that protect the air and water and invoke fierce protests from environmentalists.

Bloomberg

 

hillTrump moves toward repealing Obama EPA water rule

Jan. 28 — President Trump will order the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday to formally review former President Obama’s Clean Water Rule, kicking off the process of eliminating or significantly changing the rule.

The Hill

 

PUCT receives deadline extension to decide on whether to dismiss water contract case

Feb. 27 — The Public Utility Commission of Texas on Feb. 24 requested more time to respond to the North Texas Municipal Water District’s motion to dismiss a petition requesting the PUCT to review the district’s water contract with its member cities.

Community Impact Newspaper

 

DMN LogoIf NextEra buys Oncor, what’s in it for the rest of us?

Feb. 21 — NextEra Energy is paying so much for Oncor Electric Delivery Co. that there may not be much upside for the rest of us.

That’s one criticism of the proposed $18.7 billion acquisition of Dallas-based Oncor, the state’s largest regulated utility. When big utilities change hands, ratepayers often get some relief, even though such sweeteners are not required.

— Dallas Morning News

 

energy-choice-mattersTexas Bills Would Terminate Authority For General Land Office To Sell Retail Power

Feb. 21 — Two identical bills filed with the Texas legislature (HB 1685 / SB 736) would terminate the statutory grant of authority that currently allows the Texas General Land Office (GLO) to sell power to public retail customers.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

energy-choice-matters

Texas Bill Would Make Unauthorized Switch in Retail Electric Provider A Criminal Offense

Feb. 21 — HB 1475 has been filed with the Texas legislature which would make the unauthorized initiation of service with a different retail electric provider a criminal offense

— Energy Choice Matters

 

HoustonChronicleStartup aims to add more power to choosing electric plans

Feb. 18 — The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, a consumer advocacy group, supports Powertochoose.org because it is backed by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which can respond to customers complaints and fine companies that violate state regulations, said Jake Dyer, a spokesman.
— Houston Chronicle

 

Bankruptcy judge approves sale of Oncor utility to NextEra

Feb. 17 — Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings is one step closer to ending one of the biggest U.S. energy bankruptcies after a judge approved a plan to sell its Oncor power transmission unit to NextEra Energy.

Steven Church/Bloomberg

 

DMN LogoWho calls the shots if the country’s biggest power company scoops up Texas’ biggest utility?

Feb. 17 — An effective ring-fence is one potential offset. It’s a form of insurance, said Geoffrey Gay, who represents cities in utility cases. It may not seem necessary, given NextEra’s current strength, but the PUC has to look ahead.
— Dallas Morning News

 

utilitydiveTres Amigas truncates transmission tie

Feb. 17 — Tres Amigas LLC has downsized a proposed $1.6 billion transmission link, and now says a smaller version of the project will include a 200 MW transmission link as opposed to 750 MW. The pricetag has fallen to $200 million.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveEIA: Without Clean Power Plan, coal will regain top spot in generation mix

Feb. 15 — Coal-fired power is expected to regain its place at the top of the U.S. generation mix in 2019 if the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan is repealed, the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted Tuesday.

— Utility Dive
Big utilities try to tilt solar energy market in their favor

Feb. 11 — Indiana’s energy utilities want state lawmakers to pass a law that critics say would muscle out smaller companies from the emerging solar energy market.

Feb. 11 — Solar power provides only about 1 percent of the country’s energy, but it is growing rapidly, with U.S. Energy Department figures showing solar industry employment grew 125 percent since 2010.

— Associated Press

 

Star-Telegram LogoHow long will Arlington’s water smell and taste bad?

Feb. 16 — An overwhelming algae invasion has left the city’s water smelling and tasting bad, and the problem may not be fixed for another couple of weeks.

City officials say they expect the dirty taste and fragrance that appeared a week ago to disappear by the end of the month, when a water treatment plant that has been closed for upgrades goes back on line.

— Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

hillTrump signs bill undoing Obama coal mining rule

Feb. 16 — President Trump on Thursday signed legislation ending a key Obama administration coal mining rule.

The bill quashes the Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule, a regulation to protect waterways from coal mining waste that officials finalized in December.

— The Hill

 

FCC Chair: We’ll Take Appropriate Action if AT&T-Time Warner Deal Stifles Competition

Feb. 16 — Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai is paying close attention to the proposed $85 billion merger between AT&T (T) and Time Warner (TWX). During an interview on the FOX Business Network, he said the deal must benefit consumers.

— Fox Business

 

HoustonChronicleRailroad Commission fines company for disposing of contaminated water without a permit

Feb. 15 — The Railroad Commission of Texas fined an oil and gas wastewater management company for disposing of contaminated water without a permit, and releasing toxic chemicals in fresh water on a piece of property in West Texas.

— Houston Chronicle

 

KRISTVCity won’t renew Red Light Cameras contract
Feb. 14 — he Corpus Christi City Council has decided not to renew the city’s red light cameras program.

Police Chief Mike Markle held a presentation for the council this afternoon. He said the cameras were introduced in 2007, in an effort to reduce accidents. According to the department’s data, it doesn’t show a drastic change in the number of crashes.

KRISTV.COM

 

utilitydiveFormer Texas regulator Barry Smitherman joins NRG board

Feb. 16 — NRG Energy announced several changes to its board of directors, the result of agreements with Elliott Associates LP and Bluescape Energy Partners LLC, two investment firms owning a combined 9.4% of the company.

— Utility Dive

 

San Antonio Express NewsJPGA Railroad Commission that doesn’t regulate railroads

Feb. 15 — In its recent report to the Texas Legislature, the Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended keeping the Railroad Commission of Texas’ name for the next 12 years.
— San Antonio Express-News

 

utilitydiveResidential storage can undercut benefits of rooftop solar, says new study

Feb. 14 — The growing rooftop solar market has often been mentioned as potential market for energy storage, but a recently published paper in Nature Energy disputes that claim.

— Utility Dive

 

BLoombergToshiba’s Nuclear Reactor Mess Winds Back to a Louisiana Swamp

Feb. 12 — If you want to understand why Toshiba Corp. is about to report a multi-billion dollar write-down on its nuclear reactor business, the story begins and ends with a one-time pipe manufacturer with roots in the swamp country of Louisiana.

— Bloomberg

 

the-washington-post-logoPolicymakers alone cannot stop those pesky robocalls

Feb. 8 — Have you ever answered your phone only to hear an ominous message about the “IRS” demanding money, warnings from “Microsoft” that your computer needs immediate repairs or from “Rachel from card member services” offering a lower interest rate on an unnamed “credit card account”?

— Washington Post

 

Longview City Council votes to review utility company’s rate increase of 17%

Feb. 9 — Thursday night, an East Texas council decided to intervene in a utility companies rate increase application.

In Longview, city leaders sat the proposed increase from Atmos Pipeline Texas would cause Atmos Energy customer’s bills to go up.

— KLTV

 

vox2 remarkable facts that illustrate solar power’s declining cost

Feb. 3 — Two remarkable facts, drawn from two recent analyses, serve to illustrate the point in dramatic fashion — not “world’s cheapest” dramatic, but pretty dramatic.

— Vox

 

 

austin_american_statesman1

As oil prices dip, Railroad Commission sees cash crunch

Feb. 9 — In the latest sign of how the oil and gas downturn is affecting state coffers, the chairwoman of the agency charged with regulating the industry — and which gets the majority of its money from fees associated with oil and gas exploration — told lawmakers on Thursday state health and safety could be at risk without an influx of cash.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

HoustonChronicleEnergy agency pleads for more funding

Feb. 9 — Funding for the Railroad Commission is not sufficient for the agency to do its job regulating the state’s oil and gas industry and protecting public health and safety, the commission’s chairwoman told a legislative committee Thursday.

–Houston Chronicle

 

utilitydiveFERC lifts restrictions in federal, state demand response markets

Feb. 10 — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order last week lifting restrictions on demand response resources participating in both state and federal programs, freeing up more resources to help manage the grid during times of high demand.

— Utility Dive

 

utilitydiveEEI promises collaboration with Trump administration on energy, tax policy
Feb. 10 — Officials from the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group for investor-owned utilities, met this week with Wall Street representatives, touting more than $100 billion annually in investment and vowing to work with the new Trump administration on energy and tax policy.

— Utility Dive

 

DMN LogoFrom DP&L to Vistra Energy, D-FW’s most powerful electric provider gets a fresh start

Feb. 4 — The region’s top electric company has had many names — and business strategies: Dallas Power & Light, Texas Utilities, TXU Corp., Energy Future Holdings and now Vistra Energy Corp.
— Dallas Morning News

 

utilitydiveTrump appoints Kristine Svinicki as chair of Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Jan. 30 — U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Commissioner Kristine Svinicki has been appointed chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by President Donald Trump.

— Utility Dive.

 

Former Railroad Commissioner David Porter joins board of Swan Energy

Jan. 31 — Former Railroad Commissioner David Porter has joined the board of directors of Houston-based Swan Energy, an oil and gas production company operating in Colorado and Oklahoma. Porter will also serve as principal of Houston’s Oil & Gas Asset Clearinghouse, which markets and sells oil and gas properties, according to a news release from both companies.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Railroad commissioners lobby Texas lawmakers ahead of budget hearing

Jan. 31 — Texas Railroad commissioners have been meeting with state lawmakers and oil and gas officials in recent days trying to drum up support for changes that would better fund the agency responsible for overseeing the energy industry.

— Dallas Business Journal

 

Railroad Commission moves to cut regulations on oil, gas firms
Texas was the nation’s top electricity user in 2015

Jan. 30 — Texas used the most electricity of any state in 2015, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Energy on Friday.

The state used nearly 400 million kilowatt hours of electricity that year, and led the nation for most electricity use in homes, commercial buildings and industrial properties. California and Florida came in second and third in terms of electricity use, but each use more than 100 million kilowatt less than Texas.

— Houston Chronicle

 

energywire_finalInside the Trump administration’s power struggle over CO2 regs

Jan. 31 — Transition officials debated internally about whether the Trump administration should seek a major reversal of U.S. EPA’s core authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and it continues today, according to sources.

— Energy Wire

 

voxWant to reduce the energy used by buildings? Make cities denser.

Jan. 26 — For many years, urbanists have been singing the praises of urban density. Done well, density can increase economic output, increase per capita productivity, increase disposable income (by reducing heating, cooling, and transportation costs), and improve physical and mental health.

— Vox

 

hillTrump will ‘definitely’ pull out of Paris climate deal, ex-aide says

Jan. 30 — President Trump will “definitely” pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, with some action possible within days, according to a former top aide.

Myron Ebell, who led Trump’s transition efforts for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told reporters in London Monday that the president would stick to his campaign promises, including to stopping the country’s participation in the Paris accord.

— The Hill

 

HoustonChronicleBarry Smitherman, former Railroad commissioner, leaves Vinson & Elkins law firm

Jan. 23 — Energy lawyer and former energy regulator Barry Smitherman resigned his partnership at Vinson & Elkins on Friday.

Smitherman, who joined the firm less than two years ago and practiced out of the firm’s Austin office, left Vinson & Elkins to “pursue other career opportunities and interests,” according to a statement from the firm. Vinson & Elkins did not say what specific opportunities Smitherman plans to pursue.

— Houston Chronicle

 

utilitydive10 trends shaping the electric utility industry in 2017

If there’s one hallmark of the power sector at the beginning of 2017, it’s uncertainty.

At the time of our last trend forecast list in September 2015, the utility industry was already being disrupted: Customer demand for distributed resources and the push for cleaner electricity were reshaping centralized fossil fuel-based grids across the country to accommodate variable renewables and customer-sited resources.

— Utility Dive

 

DMN LogoHow energy efficiency could add power to the Texas economy

Jan. 23 — Texas is already the nation’s capital when it comes to producing oil and gas, as well as wind power. But what if the Lone Star State could lead the country in saving energy, too?

Lawmakers during this legislative session should seize on energy efficiency as a win-win-win path, creating local jobs while helping Texans save money and water, and reducing electricity waste and pollution..

— Dallas Morning News

 

DMN LogoTexas’ biggest power company is slashing costs: ‘We know what got us into trouble’

Jan. 20 – The housing bust and financial crisis almost feel like old memories, because most homeowners and investors have more than recovered their lost ground. Not so in the power industry.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Texas TribuneHouse, Senate disagree on how to fund the state’s oil and gas regulator

Jan. 19 — Texas House and Senate leaders unveiled dueling budget proposals last week that are billions of dollars apart. A tiny, if notable, fraction of the discrepancy: how each chamber suggests funding the cash-strapped state agency that oversees the powerful oil and gas industry.

— Texas Tribune

 

Star-Telegram LogoBudget plans aren’t clear for oil and gas regulation

Jan. 20 — Natural gas drilling and production in the Barnett Shale formation in and around Tarrant County isn’t booming like it was a few years ago, but people in this part of the state should still take a keen interest in how Texas regulates that activity.

— Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

HoustonChronicleTwo shareholders make a bid to redirect NRG Energy

Jan. 19 — Two shareholders of Houston-based NRG Energy have teamed to buy a greater share of the company in a bid to get a seat on NRG’s board of directors.

Elliott Associates, a hedge fund, and Dallas-based Bluescape Energy Partners have said that NRG’s stock is “deeply undervalued,” and want to push for operational and financial changes at NRG, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

— Houston Chronicle

 

utilitydiveTrump White House hits pause on Obama efficiency standards

Jan. 23 — The White House has put a hold on finalizing all new regulations until President Trump’s administration has agency leaders in place to approve the actions.

–Utility Dive

 

voxTrump has replaced the White House climate change page with… a pledge to drill lots of oil

As soon as Donald Trump was sworn in as president, the official White House website — WhiteHouse.gov — got a speedy makeover to reflect the change in administration, as had long been planned.

— Vox

 

utilitydiveWhat will Trump’s EPA do? Scott Pruitt hearing offered few answers

Jan. 19 — If one thing’s clear from Donald Trump’s EPA nominee’s confirmation hearing yesterday, it’s that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) wants to fundamentally reshape the agency’s regulatory authority and relationship with the states.

What’s less clear is what that regulatory regime would actually look like.

Trump’s pick to lead the nation’s environmental regulatory agency has sued the federal EPA 14 times in his time as Oklahoma’s top lawyer, challenging agency on a raft of power sector regulations from the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the Clean Power Plan.

— Utility Dive

 

new-york-times-logo‘Learning Curve’ as Rick Perry Pursues a Job He Initially Misunderstood

Jan. 18 — Mr. Perry, who once called for the elimination of the Energy Department, will begin the confirmation process Thursday with a hearing before the Senate Energy Committee. If approved by the Senate, he will take over from a secretary, Ernest J. Moniz, who was chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department and directed the linear accelerator at M.I.T.’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science.

— The New York Times

 

energy-choice-mattersTexas PUC Staff: NextEra Acquisition of Oncor “Not In Public Interest” Absent Substantive Changes

Jan. 19 — Staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas have filed testimony stating that NextEra Energy’s proposed acquisition of Oncor is, “not in the public interest without making substantive changes and additions to the applicants’ proposed commitments,” as Staff cited concerns regarding the risks from NextEra’s non-regulated businesses as well as the large amount of debt NextEra proposes to use to fund the transaction.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

MultiChannelNewsExclusive: Trump Team Embraces FCC Remake Blueprint

Jan. 15 — The incoming Donald Trump Administration is said to have signed off on an approach to remaking the Federal Communications Commission offered by the FCC transition team majority, one that squares with the deregulatory philosophies of FCC Republicans Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, who will be two of the three Republican votes on the commission, and one of them possibly the chair.

— Multichannel News

 

voxRex Tillerson wants a “seat at the table” for global climate talks

Jan. 13 — At this point, we still don’t know exactly what the Trump administration plans to do about the Paris climate accord — the core international treaty for dealing with global warming.

— Vox

 

energy-choice-mattersTexas PUC Calls Substantial Alternative Rate-making Changes “Premature”

Jan. 16 — “At this time, the Commission does not believe that ratemaking mechanisms for transmission and distribution utilities that operate within ERCOT are in need of major revision. In fact, the Commission believes that existing streamlined methods of recovery are generally achieving their intended purposes,” the PUCT’s final report says.

— Energy Choice Matters

 

ReutersElliott teams with ex-TXU CEO for NRG Energy shake-up

Jan. 17 — Elliott Management and private equity firm Bluescape Energy Partners have teamed up to buy a 9.4 percent stake in NRG Energy and said they may push to elect one or more directors to its board.

Elliott and Bluescape, which was founded by ex-TXU Corp. CEO John Wilder, said in a filing that NRG’s shares were “deeply undervalued.” The investors are seeking operational and financial improvements as well as the consideration of strategic initiatives at the company.

— Reuters

 

TexasObserverFacing Tougher Pollution Regulations, Texas Coal Plants Want Old EPA Rule Back

Jan. 11 — Texas’ latest attempt to dodge federal pollution regulations appears to have backfired, as the Environmental Protection Agency is now pushing more stringent regulations on the state’s coal plants. Unsurprisingly, utility companies aren’t happy.

— Texas Observer

 

ReutersU.S. lists 17 nuclear reactors with parts from forge under probe

Jan. 10 — The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Tuesday unveiled a letter showing that 17 of the country’s nuclear reactors have parts from Areva SA’s Le Creusot forge in France, which is under investigation for allegedly falsifying documents on the quality of its parts.

The number of reactors was more than the nine the NRC had previously disclosed.

— Reuters

 

Texas Supreme Court Clarifies Common Carrier Test re: Transportation Agreements

Jan.11 — On January 6, 2017, The Texas Supreme Court held in Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas, LLC v. Texas Rice Land Partners, Ltd. that evidence establishing a reasonable probability that a pipeline will, at some point after construction, serve even one customer unaffiliated with the pipeline owner is sufficient to qualify Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas LLC as a common carrier as a matter of law.

— National Law Review

 

Senator files bills on water rights

Jan. 10 — Lawmakers in the 85th Legislative session that began Tuesday will continue to try to expedite the procedure that gives the public a say in environmental decisions.

— Victoria Advocate

 

FERC approves NextEra takeover of Texas transmission company Oncor

Jan. 9 — FERC approved the takeover of Texas power transmission owner Oncor Electric Delivery Co. by NextEra Energy.
Oncor is part of bankrupt Energy Future Holdings Corp., with Energy Future’s power plants in Texas spun off late last year to creditors and now operating under the name Vistra Energy.

— Electric Light & Power

 

houstonbusinessjournalNRG completes world’s largest carbon capture unit in Fort Bend County

Jan. 10 — Houston-based NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG) and Tokyo’s JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp. have completed their joint venture carbon capture unit, called Petra Nova, on budget and on schedule, the companies said in a press release.

— Houston Business Journal

 

utilitydiveFERC approves $18B NextEra-Oncor deal

Jan. 9 — Federal regulators have given the thumbs-up to NextEra’s plan to purchase Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC, moving the much-debated deal closer to fruition, as well as its bid to acquire Texas Transmission Holdings Corp, which holds a 19.75 stake in the transmission and distribution utility.

— Utility Dive

 

wsjlogoLenders offering energy-conscious loans care little about borrowers’ creditworthiness

Jan 10 — About $3.4 billion has been lent so far for residential projects, and industry executives predict the total will double within the next year. That would likely rank PACE loans as the fastest-growing type of financing in the U.S. As the loans spread, so do problems that echo the subprime mortgage crisis.

— Wall Street Journal

 

utilitydiveFERC approves $18B NextEra-Oncor deal

Jan. 9 — Federal regulators have given the thumbs-up to NextEra’s plan to purchase Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC, moving the much-debated deal closer to fruition, as well as its bid to acquire Texas Transmission Holdings Corp, which holds a 19.75 stake in the transmission and distribution utility.

— Utility Dive

 

DMN LogoBack to the future: AT&T to pilot use of power lines for high-speed internet

Jan. 5 — AT&T will soon test a new way to deliver high-speed internet that blends together new and old technology.
The Dallas-based telecom company will start field trials for an approach that could bring internet to anyone on the electric grid by using power lines. The technology uses low-cost plastic antennas and devices placed on power lines so that the existing infrastructure is a guide for broadband signals. The power lines don’t carry the signal, and no electrical connection is needed.

— Dallas Morning News

 

HoustonChronicleHouston Sewer Crews Keep Busy With Barbies and Bacon Grease

Jan. 2 — Grease blockages are the main cause of Houston’s epidemic of sewer overflows, a problem so widespread that it has drawn the city into negotiations with the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The multibillion-dollar enforcement action that could result – likely increasing residents’ water bills – would be aimed at limiting raw sewage spills by replacing pipes and ramping up maintenance and education. Houston, in other words, has enough sewer problems without residents making things worse.

— Houston Chronicle

 

PUC dismisses application by request/WCCMUD, Kemp still negotiating terms after PUC approval

Jan. 6 — Following an executive session on Dec. 19 of the WCCMUD Board Meeting, the board’s attorney stated for the public that the PUC has found the utility’s application to be administratively complete but made no mention of the dismissal of the application by mutual request of both the City of Kemp and the utility.

— Cedar-Clear Lake Monitor

 

AT&T anticipates skipping FCC review of Time Warner acquisition

Jan. 6 — AT&T’s $85 billion bid to acquire Time Warner Inc. is facing a serious hurdle in a potential FCC review, but AT&T thinks that regulatory process won’t be necessary. According to an SEC filing, AT&T is anticipating that Time Warner won’t have to transfer any of its FCC licenses following the completion of the acquisition. Although, the company notes that its conclusion is subject to change.

— FierceCable.com

 

the-washington-post-logoRepublicans can cancel some Obama environment rules. But they’ll have to choose carefully.

Jan. 4 — As a new Congress convenes this week, regulatory reform is the rage, and the upshot seems to be that at least a few of President Obama’s environmental regulations could be dismantled quickly by the Republican Congress, with President-elect Donald Trump’s approval.

— Washington Post

 

Texas TribunePoor Texans left in dark as state electricity aid program ends

Jan. 5 — North Texas was freezing during a three-day stretch last month, but Mary Garcia refused to turn on the heat in her cramped apartment. She feared that doing so would too quickly drain her pay-as-you-go account with Penstar Power, a Dallas-based electricity provider.

On Dec. 19, with just $15.31 in her account and the outside thermometer showing 27 degrees, Garcia composed a plea to Lite-Up Texas, a state program that had long helped low-income folks pay their electricity bills.

— Texas Tribune

 

wsjlogoEnergy Future Cleared to Poll Creditors on Bankruptcy Exit

Jan. 4 — A bankruptcy judge authorized creditors to begin voting on Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s chapter 11 exit plan Wednesday after the Texas power giant flip-flopped on a deal with senior lenders.

In a flurry of action in the final days of 2016, Energy Future walked away from a peace pact with its top-ranking lenders and cut a new deal with junior bondholders York Capital Management Global Advisors LLC, GSO Capital Partners LP, Avenue Capital Management and Angelo Gordon & Co.

— Wall Street Journal

 

utilitydive

Final batch of Obama efficiency rules could test Trump administration

Jan. 4 — The Obama administration closed out 2016 with new energy efficiency standards for five product classes, potentially saving between $15 billion and $35 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

— Utility Dive

 

voxHere’s what optimistic liberals get wrong about Trump and climate change

Jan. 4 — So who’s right — the pessimists or the optimists? Both make decent points. But it’s worth taking time to square the two views, to understand what’s really at stake in the Trump era.

— Vox

 

utilitydiveHow will Rick Perry run the Department of Energy?

Jan. 3 — In mid-December, President-elect Donald Trump announced he would name former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to head the Department of Energy, a seemingly ironic choice, since Perry once proposed shuttering the entire agency.

Perry called the decision a “tremendous honor,” but has said little of his plans for the agency. Even so, his coming nomination has divided energy observers, with some arguing he is not as qualified as the scientists who led the DOE under President Obama.

— Utility Dive

 

hillDem AGs warn Trump against repealing Obama’s climate rule

Dec. 29 — A group of Democratic state attorneys general is warning President-elect Donald Trump against repealing the Clean Power Plan, saying it would lead to more lawsuits.

The group, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) and representing 14 states and five localities, wrote Thursday that it is in Trump’s best interest to preserve Obama’s climate change rule for power plants and continue defending it in federal court.

– The Hill

 

MIT report questions value of distributed solar

Jan. 2 — The Utility of the Future report decries poor state-level rate-making, mythical cross-subsidies by non-solar customers, and economies of scale as reasons that adding more distributed PV to utilities’ portfolios make little long-term economic sense.

— PV Magazine

 

McAllen Residential Rates To See 65% Increase ($55 Per Month)

Jan. 3 — Sharyland Utilities has filed an amended rate filing package with the Public Utility Commission of Texas that would, in addition to new levels for base rates, impose new riders on retail electric providers.

 

BLOG: Editorial Blasts Flawed GRIP Program

Posted by on 3:09 pm in Blog | 0 comments

A parade of under-the-radar rate hikes — that’s been the unfortunate result of a long-running and controversial Railroad Commission program that now has captured the attention of The Dallas Morning News.

The program, known as the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program, or GRIP, has long been criticized by the Atmos Cities Steering Committee, the Texas Coalition of Cities for Utility Issues and other city and consumer groups. It also has been the subject of critical reports by the state’s largest-circulation newspaper, the Houston Chronicle.

And now, in a blistering Aug. 24 editorial, The Dallas Morning News has added its voice to those expressing concerns.

The paper noted that GRIP has led to multiple hikes by multiple gas utilities, including more than a half-billion dollars in increases from a single Atmos Energy division serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It noted that GRIP allows these hikes without substantive regulatory review.

“The program … amounts to a license to skirt serious regulatory oversight,” the paper’s editorial board stated.

GRIP was first authorized by the Texas Legislature in 2003.  It has been reported separately that utilities have gone so far as to leverage the program to hike rates even at times when the utilities already are reaping windfall profits.

The Morning News noted that commodity gas prices have declined precipitously over the last several years, but those declines have been masked by the repeated GRIP increases. It concluded that “consumers are getting the short end” from GRIP and that lawmakers should consider ending the program.

“Utilities have a right to recoup their investments, but it must not be part of shadow alternative rate process for regulation,” the newspaper stated.

You can read The Dallas Morning News editorial here.

BLOG: Hurricane Harvey Safety Advisory & Power Restoration Update

Posted by on 9:08 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Exercise extreme caution when turning power on or off at the meter after a flood.

Remember: always exercise extreme caution when dealing with electricity during a flood.

“When possible, we recommend that you contact a licensed electrician to advise and assist during flood conditions in turning power off at the breaker box and back on,” advises CenterPoint, the Houston-based utility.

The utility also cautions that if it appears flood waters will reach the power outlets “that you cut off power at the breaker box ONLY if you are able to do so safely and without standing in water.”

CenterPoint said it already has restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers, although high waters and debris continue hampering its efforts. The utility said its natural gas system was functioning normally, although difficult conditions on the ground likewise were keeping it from responding to some leak calls.

The other big Texas utility impacted this week by Hurricane Harvey, AEP Texas, said it has restored 10 transmission lines and 20 transmission stations, but another 55 transmission lines and 44 stations remained out of service. AEP serves the Corpus Christi area.

“Assessment and restoration efforts have been hampered by the weather (e.g. inability to fly helicopters to assess impact on facilities, etc.) but the transmission team has been able to assess about 70% of its transmission equipment in the affected areas,” the utility said in a message on its website.

As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, about 116,000 AEP customers in the Coastal Bend area remained without power, according to the utility. That included more than 41,000 in the hard hit Aransas Pass/Rockport area.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued a proclamation allowing public utilities to enter and use private property and public easements to restore power to storm-stricken areas.

— R.A. Dyer

ERCOT: Grid Is Stable

Posted by on 2:27 pm in Blog | 0 comments

FROM THE ELECTRIC RELIABILITY COUNCIL OF TEXAS

5 p.m., Aug. 28, 2017

The ERCOT grid continues to be in stable condition following Hurricane Harvey. However, several transmission lines remain out of service, especially near Corpus Christi and Victoria where Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

Two major 345-kV transmission lines serving the Gulf Coast area are still out of service, along with many other high-voltage transmission lines. As of mid-day today, a little more than 6,700 MW of generation capacity, including a very small percentage of renewables, was off-line for reasons related to the storm.

Electricity demand in the days since landfall has been about 20,000 megawatts (MW) below typical August electricity use, peaking at less than 44,000 MW, due to a combination of structural damage along the coast and cooler temperatures in much of the region.

ERCOT operations will continue to focus on overall grid reliability during the restoration process, while transmission and distribution providers make repairs to power lines and electrical equipment. Additional engineers have been on site around the clock throughout the hurricane and tropical storm to support these operations and stay in constant communication with transmission and generation suppliers.

System restoration times will vary depending on the extent of damage and location of the outage, as well as weather conditions in the coming days.

To help prevent a power surge when power is restored, ERCOT recommends unplugging anything that requires a significant amount of electricity, such as large appliances and electronics. For safety reasons, residents in flooded areas should have electronics and appliances checked by a repair person before using. Additionally, when possible, have a licensed electrician handle turning circuit breakers on and off.

9 a.m., Aug. 27, 2017

Conditions in the ERCOT region have remained steady over the past 24 hours. ERCOT continues to see widespread transmission outages, especially near Corpus Christi and Victoria.

While power to some areas that were affected by Hurricane Harvey Friday night have been restored, new outages are likely over the next several days as the tropical storm dumps heavy rains in other parts of the ERCOT region, including the Houston area.

ERCOT continues to work with transmission and generation owners to protect the overall reliability of the grid. We will continue to provide updates if system conditions change.

As a reminder, please stay away from downed power lines, as they may be energized. They should be reported immediately to your local electric service provider.

5 p.m., Aug. 26, 2017

Consumer outages due to Hurricane Harvey, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm, have decreased slightly to less than 300,000. Outage numbers may fluctuate in the coming days as transmission providers continue to work to restore power safely in affected areas. System conditions overall remain stable. Area residents are reminded to avoid contact with downed power lines, which could be energized, and report them promptly to local electric utilities. Unless conditions change overnight, ERCOT will provide the next update the morning of Aug. 27.

2 p.m., Aug. 26, 2017

ERCOT is seeing widespread transmission line outages along the coastal areas in the storm’s path, from Corpus Christi up toward the Houston area. We currently estimate more than 300,000 customers are still without power based on reports from transmission providers in the affected areas.

Transmission providers are assessing the damage and making repairs where and when it is possible to do so safely. Extended outages are likely in most affected areas.

ERCOT continues to monitor the situation and communicate with transmission and generation owners to assess the impacts of the hurricane and manage overall system reliability.

Heavy rain is expected to continue through the weekend and into next week. Tornadoes may also cause damage as the storm progresses.

Please avoid any downed power lines resulting from the storm and contact authorities if you see them.

7:20 a.m., August 26, 2017

The number of outages in the ERCOT region has increased to more than 293,000 customers. Approximately 157 circuits are out of service.

6:30 a.m., August 26, 2017

More than 213,000 consumers are currently without power on the Texas Gulf Coast due to effects from Hurricane Harvey. Approximately 140 circuits are out of service.

1 a.m., August 26, 2017

More than 211,000 consumers are currently without power on the Texas Gulf Coast due to effects from Hurricane Harvey. Landfall occurred near Rockport just after 10 p.m. Widespread transmission outages, with more than 100 circuits currently out of service.

7 p.m., August 25, 2017

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has issued an emergency notice for Hurricane Harvey, which has reached Category 4 status and is expected to make landfall late Friday evening. The storm has already begun to impact the electric system, and more than 70,000 customers are without power as a result. In addition to wind-related damage, the hurricane is expected to cause significant flooding in the South, South Central and Coastal weather zones in the ERCOT region. This includes the cities of Houston, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Austin and San Antonio. ERCOT System Operations is working 24/7 to monitor the situation and manage the electric grid to ensure overall system reliability.

ERCOT Region

The ERCOT region includes Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Abilene and the Rio Grande Valley. It does not include the El Paso area, the Texas Panhandle, Northeast Texas (Longview, Marshall and Texarkana), and Southeast Texas (Beaumont, Port Arthur, and the Woodlands).

Region map: http://www.ercot.com/news/mediakit/maps/index.html

Local Utility Information

Contact your local electric service provider to report downed power lines in your area. To find out if you need to report an outage, check websites below for more information.

BLOG: CenterPoint Profits, Rates On The Rise

Posted by on 9:11 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Thanks in large part to its repeated rate increases and customer growth, profits are up for CenterPoint Energy.

That’s the word from the Houston Chronicle, which reported this week that its hometown electricity and natural gas distributor made profits of $135 million — or 31 cents per share — during the second quarter of the year. That’s compared to a $2 million loss during the same period last year, according to the newspaper.

How do those profits relate to the home consumer? “Natural gas and electricity rates for Houston customers have gone up,” the paper reported.

A rate increase for natural gas service that was recently approved by the Texas Railroad Commission will increase CenterPoint’s bills to typical Houston customers by about $1.23 per month, the newspaper reported. A separate rate increase proposed by CenterPoint’s electric utility will increase rates to those customers by about 80 cents per month, if approved by the Texas Public Utility Commission, according to the newspaper.

In a recent investigative report, the Houston Chronicle also found that monopoly utilities like CenterPoint often have hiked gas rates even while earning windfall profits off their captive customers.

Ryan Handy, Houston Chronicle.

“CenterPoint Energy’s gas utility earned profits that were hundreds of thousands of dollars above the cap set by state regulations in 2015. But that didn’t stop the company from asking last year — and getting — higher rates to collect even more money from its Houston-area customers,” the newspaper’s Ryan Maye Handy reported in May.

CenterPoint likewise earned profits above previously approved levels in 2013 and 2014, and both times the Railroad Commission allowed the company to raise rates “with few questions asked.”

Handy attributed those controversial rate hikes to the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program that allows gas utilities to regularly increase residential and commercial bills, but with little regulatory oversight.

“For the company’s 1 million Houston-area customers, the result has been a steady uptick in the cost of natural gas delivery, which has cut into savings from the lowest natural gas prices in nearly two decades,” reported Handy.

You can read the Houston Chronicle report about the GRIP increases here. For more about the GRIP program, check out this ACSC report from 2010.

— R.A. Dyer

BLOG: Big Hike for Low-Risk Atmos Pipeline Texas

Posted by on 9:27 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Customers served by one of the state’s largest gas utilities will soon see their bills increase thanks to a decision this week by the Texas Railroad Commission.

Under that decision Atmos Pipeline Texas — a regulated monopoly serving northern and western parts of the state — will begin collecting about $30.7 million more each year. The Railroad Commission’s three elected commissioners also granted Atmos Pipeline Texas on Monday an 11.5 percent “return on equity,” or ROE, which is a rough proxy for its allowable profit levels.

ACSC General Counsel Geoffrey Gay

Geoffrey Gay, ACSC general counsel, said the return on equity level and the overall rate increase are excessive given the company’s status as an extremely low-risk monopoly.  “As the investor owned utility in Texas with the most risk-reducing features, (the company) should have among the lowest authorized ROE of public utilities — instead, (it) has the highest,” wrote Gay, in an ACSC legal brief filed earlier this month.

The ACSC general counsel also noted that Atmos Pipeline’s latest hike comes on top of numerous previous ones, that, taken cumulatively, totaled 17.5 percent since 2011. Each of those previous hikes were the result of a controversial program known as the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program that has allowed Atmos Pipeline Texas and other gas utilities to hike rates on an annual basis with almost no regulatory review.

In a recent investigative report, the Houston Chronicle also found that the GRIP program has allowed gas utilities like Atmos Pipeline Texas to increase rates even when those monopoly companies were simultaneously earning windfall profits off their captive customers.

In 2013, for instance, the commission approved a rate increase for Atmos customers when the company over earned by around $4 million, according to the newspaper. Then, in 2015, the commission approved another rate increase when the company had over earned by about $1.6 million, the paper reported.

You can read the Houston Chronicle report here. For more about the GRIP program, check out this ACSC report from 2010.

— R.A. Dyer

BLOG: New June Energy Records Set for Texas

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Increasingly hot summers and the needs of a growing state help explain heightened demands on the state principal power grid.

 

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, ERCOT. Infographic by R.A. Dyer

On June 23 — a hot day even by Texas standards — electrical consumption on the state’s main power grid spiked in quick succession to 66.7 gigawatts, 67.5 gigawatts and then to 67.7 gigawatts. Each spike represented a new June record for peak power usage, and they all beat the previous 66.5 GW record set in June 2012.

To put those numbers in perspective, a single gigawatt is enough power for approximately 300,000 to 500,000 homes.  A single gigawatt is the output of 500 utility-scale wind turbines, or the equivalent of 2,000 engines from 2,000 Corvette sports cars.

That’s a lot of power.

But the records set last month represent historic highs for June, and not all-time records. According to ERCOT, which is the organization that oversees the state’s main power grid, the much higher all-time peak record was set during the brutal summer of 2011, when Texans hit peak consumption of more than 71 GW.

The increasingly hot summers and the needs of a growing state help explain heightened demands on the grid. But even still, ERCOT says the state should have enough generating capacity to keep the lights on for the foreseeable future.

In a report released last May ERCOT projected that generation capacity should exceed projected peak demands for the next five years. You can read about that report here.

— R.A. Dyer

BLOG: Wrap-Up from the 85th Texas Legislature

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The 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature adjourned sine die on May 29, 2017. Just below we describe a number of bills we were following, as well as their ultimate fate during the session.

 

HB 931

House Bill 931 will help expand the state’s network of hike-and-bike trails, but at virtually no cost to political subdivisions for the underlying land.  This is because the legislation responsibly waives some of the legal liability that utilities would otherwise face for allowing their land to be used for public recreational purposes. The legislation has been adopted by both the House and Senate and signed by the governor.

 

SB 735

Senate Bill 735 would require the Public Utility Commission to establish a schedule under which it periodically reviews the fairness of electric utility rates. It also includes other changes to rate-setting procedures that, taken collectively, would be something of a mixed bag for consumers. Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 735 into law on May 27.

 

SB 83

Senate Bill 83, by state Sen. Bob Hall, calls for the creation of a task force to review potential risks to the state’s electric grid infrastructure from cyber and electro-magnetic attacks. The legislation has been approved by the full Senate, but then stalled in the House. House Bill 787, which is similar to SB 83, has been adopted by the Texas House, but then stalled in the Senate. Both bills failed.

 

SB 1976

Senate Bill 1976 would ensure the continuation of a process whereby the Public Utility Commission identifies low-income electric and telecommunications ratepayers. This is important because such customers are eligible for various customer protection benefits. Gov. Greg Abbott signed this bill into law on May 19.

 

HB 1427

House Bill 1427, by Rep. Pat Fallon, would have clarified the proposition that a city’s zoning authority extends over electric cooperatives just as it would for any other business operating within city limits. This legislation was adopted by the House Urban Affairs Committee, but then stalled and died.

HB 237

 

Several bills, including House Bill 237 by Rep. Rafael Anchia and House Bill 642 by Rep. Larry Phillips, had called for a name change for the Texas Railroad Commission. This would have helped to clear up public confusion about the agency, which does not have responsibility for overseeing railroads but does oversee gas utility rates. These bills failed to get traction during the session, and were not adopted.

 

HB 1818

House Bill 1818, by state Rep. Larry Gonzales, is the Railroad Commission “Sunset” bill. That is, the bill authorizes the continuation of the agency for several more years, and also spells out various adjustments to the agency’s operations. However, House Bill 1818 does not include several recommended reforms — such as the use of independent administrative law judges for the adjudication of gas utility cases — that were included in versions of this bill during previous legislative sessions. HB 1818 was adopted by both the Texas House and Texas Senate and signed by the governor.

 

— R.A. Dyer

Report: Even With Excessive Profits, Gas Utilities Still Hike Rates

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For utility customers, the result has been a steady uptick in the cost of natural gas delivery, which has cut into savings from historically low natural gas prices.

In Texas, gas utilities already reporting excessive profits frequently seek permission to charge their customers even more.

But rather than rejecting those requests outright, regulators often green light them with almost no questions asked.

That dramatic finding, included in recent reports by the Houston Chronicle, raises new questions about the fairness of a controversial program at the Texas Railroad Commission known as the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program.  Under it, gas utilities regularly seek and receive permission to hike rates — but without first proving the prudence of their expenditures.

Reporter Ryan Handy

Reporter Ryan Handy examined GRIP cases going back about 10 years, comparing the outcomes in those cases with rate-of-return profit levels also reported by the utilities. She focused on GRIP cases filed by two of the state’s largest gas monopolies: CenterPoint Energy serving Houston and Beaumont, and Atmos serving North, Central and West Texas.

She found that “Atmos earned above the allowable level in 2013 and 2015 … and both times the Railroad Commission allowed the company to raise rates with few questions asked.”  A similar pattern emerged for CenterPoint. The Texas Railroad Commission authorized three GRIP increases during just four years for divisions of that utility, even though they were reporting higher-than-authorized rates of return.

“For the company’s 1 million Houston-area customers, the result has been a steady uptick in the cost of natural gas delivery, which has cut into savings from the lowest natural gas prices in nearly two decades,” reported Handy.

Because gas utilities are public monopolies, it’s the job of regulators to ensure they do not over charge customers.  During traditional rate reviews the Texas Railroad Commission will consider utility operating and capital costs, and it also will authorize a “rate of return” for company investors.

But in GRIP proceedings, the agency considers only infrastructure expenditures, without consideration of off-setting revenue increases or utility savings that could eliminate the need for rate hikes. Neither can city groups or ratepayer organizations challenge the prudence of utility expenditures during the GRIP process.

As a consequence, GRIP  has come under fire from consumer groups and others, who say it has led to frequent and unwarranted rate hikes. The Atmos Cities Steering Committee has called for the elimination or reform of the GRIP program, which was created by statute.

Handy also examined electric transmission and distribution cases, which are overseen by the Texas Public Utility Commission. She reported that the PUC has closely monitored the earnings of Centerpoint’s electric utility, and even clawed back nearly $70 million in excess profits for customers in 2005.

“Inconsistencies in regulatory policy are quite evident,” said Geoffrey Gay, an Austin lawyer who serves as general counsel for the Atmos Cities Steering Committee and other city coalitions. “There are just too few cases that come to the Railroad Commission. They are not handled as carefully as they would be (at the PUC).”

Handy’s report appeared in the May 31 edition of the newspaper. She also authored a June 2 follow-up article. They can be found here and here.

For more about the GRIP program, check out this 2010 report from the Atmos Cities Steering Committee.

— R.A. Dyer

BLOG: Update from the 85th Texas Legislature

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Lawmakers in Austin have filed more than 100 bills relating to gas and electric utility customers this session — and some of these bills already have made it to the governor. Others, however, remain pending and more than a few have died outright. The 85th Texas Legislature adjourns sine die in just a few weeks. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the bills we’ve been following, whether live, dead or in between.

 

  • House Bill 1818, by state Rep. Larry Gonzales, is the Railroad Commission “Sunset” bill. That is, the bill authorizes the continuation of the agency for several more years, and also spells out various adjustments to the agency’s operations. However, House Bill 1818 does not include several recommended reforms — such as the use of independent administrative law judges for the adjudication of gas utility cases — that were included in versions of this bill during previous legislative sessions. HB 1818 was adopted by both the Texas House and Texas Senate and sent to the governor.

 

  • Several bills, including House Bill 237 by Rep. Rafael Anchia and House Bill 642 by Rep. Larry Phillips, had called for a name change for the Texas Railroad Commission. This would have helped to clear up public confusion about the agency, which does not have responsibility for overseeing railroads but does oversee gas utility rates. These bills failed to get traction during the session and are now considered dead.

 

  • Senate Bill 735 would require the Public Utility Commission to establish a schedule under which it periodically reviews the fairness of electric utility rates. It also includes other changes to rate-setting procedures that, taken collectively, would be something of a mixed bag for consumers. Senate Bill 735 has been passed by both the House and Senate and sent to the governor.

 

  • Senate Bill 83, by state Sen. Bob Hall, calls for the creation of a task force to review potential risks to the state’s electric grid infrastructure from cyber and electro-magnetic attacks. The legislation has been approved by the full Senate and referred to the House Committee on State Affairs. House Bill 787, which is similar to SB 83, has been adopted by the Texas House and referred to the Senate Business and Commerce committee.

 

  • Senate Bill 1976 would ensure the continuation of a process whereby the Public Utility Commission identifies low-income electric and telecommunications ratepayers. This is important because such customers are eligible for various customer protections. This bill has been approved by both the House and Senate and sent to the governor. The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power supports this bill.

 

  • House Bill 1427, by Rep. Pat Fallon, would have clarified the proposition that a city’s zoning authority extends over electric cooperatives just as it would for any other business operating within city limits. HB 1427 would be unnecessary except for a recent legal challenge mounted by two electric cooperatives to a zoning decision in North Texas. HB 1427 was adopted by the House Urban Affairs Committee, but then stalled.  This bill is now dead.

 

— R.A. Dyer