News Roundup

UTILITY NEWS ROUND-UP

Posted on Jul 6, 2017

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.

— Energy Choice Matters