Texas Tribune: Michael Bloomberg gives $2.6 million to Texas Democrat running for railroad commissioner

Oct. 26 — Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has made a late donation of $2.6 million to the Democratic nominee for railroad commissioner, Chrysta Castañeda, providing a massive fundraising boost in a race for the oil and gas regulatory board that usually does not see such big money — or attract much political interest outside Texas.

— Texas Tribune

 

Austin American-Statesman (Commentary): Modify Texas’ tax structure to reflect the energy transition

Oct. 27 — A great energy transition is underway in the U.S. and around the world. According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, the coronavirus pandemic is actually accelerating the move away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner energy sources. And a recent study from the OECD, a group of 37 economically advanced countries, concludes that “peak oil demand” has already occurred in the developed world. With solar and wind energy projects benefiting from falling costs and widespread government support, the IEA expects renewables to provide 80% of the growth in global electricity demand through 2030.

— Austin American-Statesman

 

Forbes: Renewable Energy Surges Even In Fossil Fuel Friendly Red States

Oct. 26 — The nation’s two largest coal-producing states, Wyoming and West Virginia, have emerged as leaders in renewable energy and energy storage, respectively, according to a new report.

— Forbes

 

Hays Free Press: Kinder Morgan says pipeline re-reoute is complete

Oct. 23 —  The route of Kinder Morgan’s Permian ˙Highway Pipeline is about 99 percent mechanically complete’ through the Texas Hill Country and is on track to be carrying natural gas from West Texas to near Houston early next year.

— Hays Free Press

 

Dallas Morning News (Commentary): Oncor carved out part of White Rock Lake’s heart. How does Dallas stop the next land massacre?

Oct. 23 — Our outrage over the sorry mess that the utility made in this nature preserve is justified, but we need real action to keep it from happening again.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Houston Business Journal: Texas comptroller approves incentives for ConnectGen solar project

Oct. 23 — The incentives would save the company millions of dollars in taxes over the 10-year life of the agreement.

— Houston Business Journal

 

KVUE: Texas candidates, experts react to Trump and Biden’s exchange on oil industry

Oct. 23 — In Thursday night’s presidential debate, presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden spoke about transitioning from the oil industry. At one point during the debate, President Donald Trump asked, “Would you close down the oil industry?” to which Biden said, “I’d have a transition from the oil industry, yes.”

— KVUE

 

Politico: Biden’s oil slip gives Trump campaign hope in Pa., Texas

Oct. 23 — Joe Biden’s plan to move to a clean energy economy isn’t new to those who’ve been paying attention: For months, he’s promised to put the country on a path to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

— Politico

Houston Chronicle (Commentary):  Oil and gas, environmental stewardship remain key to economic growth

Oct. 26 — As the Texas oil and natural gas industry slowly recovers from a historic decline in global demand brought on by COVID-19 and other market factors, policy leaders must think longterm when considering measures that could impact the future of domestic production and its unmatched contributions from an economic and geopolitical perspective. While challenges remain, no one should understate the resilience of this industry and its importance to our country for generations to come.

— Houston Chronicle

Forbes (Commentary): As Trump Dismisses Renewables, Energy Sector Doubles Down

Oct. 25 — Though the biggest energy headline coming out of last week’s U.S. presidential debate was whether a President Biden would end fracking, President Trump’s critical portrayal of renewable energy warrants more attention than it has gotten – and a closer look at the reality of growth in the sector.

— Forbes

 

Fox 7 — Atmos Energy to flare natural gas in Leander Oct. 26-30

Oct. 25 — From approximately 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Oct. 26-30, crews will flare natural gas west of Ronald Reagan Boulevard just south of the South Fork San Gabriel River.

— Fox 7 Austin

 

S&P Global: Rising water stress risk threatens US coal plants, largely clustered in 5 states

Oct. 22 — Based on an analysis of data from S&P Global Market Intelligence and the World Resources Institute, power generators in Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Wyoming and Michigan operate about 37.1 GW of coal-fired generation capacity in areas projected to face medium-high to extremely high water stress — when humanity’s competition for water exceeds nature’s ability to replenish it — due to climate change in 2030.

— S&P Global

 

KLTV: Two solar farms set to be constructed in East Texas

Oct. 22 — East Texas will soon be home to some new solar farms. It’s a part of an effort for more renewable energy by the Texas-based company Vistra, the parent company of Luminant Energy. The two solar farms are set to be constructed in the Forest Grove area of Henderson County, and northeast of the city of Henderson in Rusk County.

— KLTV

 

Texas Tribune: Donald Trump and Joe Biden sparred over Texas’ energy industry and global warming during final presidential debate

Oct. 22 — In debating a major Texas industry, Trump emphasized economic priorities while Biden advocated for alternate means of energy besides oil and gas.

— Texas Tribune

 

Reuters: Trump, Biden clash over climate, oil industry in final debate

Oct. 22 —  Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden clashed over the country’s response to climate change in their final presidential debate on Thursday, which included a stark disagreement over the future of the oil industry.

— Reuters

 

Utility Dive: Cities’ GHG emissions reduction efforts, by the numbers

Oct. 23 — The first half of 2020 saw an 8.8% decrease in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a scientific report recently published in Nature Communications. This reduction was “larger than any in history,” the authors wrote, yet governments — particularly U.S. cities — have plenty of work to do before they can hang up their hats.

— Utility Dive

 

12 News: What is the Texas Railroad Commission? A closer look at who’s running

Oct. 21 Dallas Democrat Chrysta Castañeda is running against Republican Jim Wright for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the oil and gas industry.

— 12 News

Vox:  Geothermal energy is poised for a big breakout

Oct. 21 — After many years of failure to launch, new companies and technologies have brought geothermal out of its doldrums, to the point that it may finally be ready to scale up and become a major player in clean energy. In fact, if its more enthusiastic backers are correct, geothermal may hold the key to making 100 percent clean electricity available to everyone in the world. And as a bonus, it’s an opportunity for the struggling oil and gas industry to put its capital and skills to work on something that won’t degrade the planet.

— Vox

Utility Dive: NextEra wind, solar backlog passes 15 GW as it looks to replicate renewables strategy with hydrogen

Oct. 22 — The backlog of renewable energy projects that NextEra expects to construct over the next few years grew by about 1,450 MW in the third quarter and now exceeds 15 GW, more than the total current renewables portfolio of its wholesale generating subsidiary, NextEra Energy Resources, the company announced during its Q3 earnings call on Wednesday.

— Utility Dive

 

Houston Chronicle: ‘Frustrating as it can be’: CenterPoint’s frequent outages happen rain or shine, customers say

Oct. 22 — Persistent power outages that continue for years have become a liability for CenterPoint, angering homeowners and business customers who say their complaints fall on deaf ears. The outages — and particularly the utility’s response to complaints from grocer H-E-B — played a key role when CenterPoint’s request for a rate hike was slashed in January.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Denton Record-Chronicle: Council members ask for safety requirement for building around plugged gas wells

Oct. 21 — The Texas Railroad Commission, according to city documents, requires that wells be plugged no later than a year after they have been abandoned or are non-producing. State law allows municipalities no authority to regulate plugging.

— Denton Record-Chronicle

 

The Hill: Union organizer discusses support for Green New Deal-style provisions in Texas

Oct. 20 — Pollock went on to point to working conditions in the green energy sector as well as the opportunity to build union representation in renewable energy companies as a major selling point that has led to workers seeking employment in the renewable fuel industry.

— The Hill

 

The Hill: How to expand rural broadband, fast and affordably

Oct. 19 — The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified many problems in America, but with creative approaches, these problems can become opportunities. One of the most important, yet least discussed, issues is the continued lack of access to high-speed internet in rural areas — an issue that profoundly affects economic growth, education and daily life.

— The Hill

 

The Hill: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill

Oct. 20 — A new bill from House Democrats turns to the oceans as a way to fight climate change, proposing to expand offshore wind while barring drilling along America’s coasts.

— The Hill

 

Utility Dive: US corporate buyers will drive 44 GW to 72 GW of new renewables over next 10 years

Oct. 21 — Corporate-driven power purchase agreements (PPAs) could represent 20% of all utility scale renewable power additions from 2021 to 2030.

— Utility Dive

 

NewsWest 9 — Atmos Energy explains rate increase

Oct. 18 — Since March Atmos employees have been estimating reading meters. In the month of October, they have gone back out to reading meters in person.

— NewsWest 9

 

Houston Chronicle: Railroad Commission eyes change to flaring rules

Oct. 20 — Flaring opponents, however, say the proposed reporting changes don’t go far enough to curtail the practice. They instead demand that the commission look to its own history — to a time when it rigorously enforced state laws against the waste of hydrocarbon resources — and take steps to eliminate routine flaring within five years.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Dallas Observer: City Creates Committee To Clean Up Oncor’s Mess at White Rock Lake

Oct. 19 — For the second time in two decades, several acres of The Old Fish Hatchery at White Rock Lake were mowed down by local energy provider, this time Oncor, surprising Dallas residents used to exploring this little bit of nature in the Big D.

— Dallas Observer

 

Energy News Network: Solar can hurt home values if it displaces scarce suburban greenspace

Oct. 20 — The analysis by University of Rhode Island researchers did not account for aesthetic treatments, and found no impact from arrays in rural areas.

— Energy News Network

 

E&E News: House races to watch on energy, environment

Oct. 19 — Despite an ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty, energy and environmental issues remain significant factors in more than three dozen competitive House races that will likely help decide the size and makeup of the expected Democratic majority in the next Congress.

— E&E News

 

Utility Dive: DOE campaign drives $95M in building energy cost savings

Oct. 20 — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) just-completed Smart Energy Analytics Campaign, facilitated by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has reportedly created the world’s largest collection of building energy analytics, highlighting the benefits of energy management and information systems (EMIS) in commercial buildings like offices and retail spaces.

— Utility Dive

 

Utility Dive: 2019 US wholesale solar prices more than double wind, gas as renewables use reaches record levels

Oct. 20 — According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), last year the average U.S. wholesale price for solar electricity was $83/MWh — more than double the price paid to producers of electricity generated by wind, fossil fuels, or nuclear.

— Utility Dive

 

Dallas Business Journal: Oncor eyes Q1 2021 move-in date for 200K-SF relocation in downtown Fort Worth

Oct. 16 — About 600 employees will be making the move.

— Dallas Business Journal

 

Harker Heights Herald: Negotiated settlement between the Atmos Cities Steering Committee and Atmos Energy Corp., Mid-Tex Division

Oct. 16 — ASCS consultants concluded that the system-wide deficiency should be $111.5 million instead of the claimed $136.3 million, a difference of $24.8 million.

—  Harker Heights Herald

 

El Paso Herald-Post: EP Electric receives unanimous approval from PUCT for new power station

Oct. 16 — Late Friday afternoon, officials with El Paso Electric (EPE) announced that the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) unanimously approved their application for the construction of Newman Unit 6 power station.

— El Paso Herald-Post

 

ABC 8: What is the Texas Railroad Commission? A look at who’s running

Oct. 17 — Dallas Democrat Chrysta Castañeda is running against Republican Jim Wright for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the oil and gas industry.

— ABC 8

 

Fox4: Oncor clear-cuts three acres at White Rock Lake without city approval

Oct. 17 — The city of Dallas is in talks with Oncor after it clear-cut three acres of trees by White Rock Lake without notifying the city first.

— Fox4

 

Fox Business: Spread of electric cars sparks fights for control over charging

Oct. 17 —  The proposals are sparking concerns from consumer advocates about higher electric rates and oil companies about subsidizing rivals. They are also drawing opposition from startups that say the successors to gas stations should be open to private-sector competition, not controlled by monopoly utilities.

— Fox Business

 

Clean Techica: Texas Wind Power Growth 2010–2019 — 6% to 18% of Texas Electricity

Oct. 16 — In 2019, wind-powered generation contributed 84.4 thousand gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity in Texas, an 11% increase from the 75.7 thousand GWh generated in 2018. Substantial growth in wind capacity in the state was the primary reason for this increase. Texas wind capacity rose almost 17% in 2019, from 24.1 gigawatts (GW) in 2018 to 28.1 GW in 2019. Wind power accounted for 18% of the electricity generated in Texas in 2019, compared with 6% in 2010.

— Clean Technica

 

Plainview News: Council approves rate increase for Atmos Energy customers.

Oct. 14 — Starting Dec. 1, Atmos Energy both residential and commercial customers across the South Plains and up the Panhandle will notice the increase. For residential customers, the average bill should show an estimated $3.04 increase.

Plainview News

 

Renewables Now: Wind is a growing part of the electricity mix in Texas

Oct. 16 — Substantial growth in wind capacity in the state was the primary reason for the increase. Texas wind capacity rose almost 17% in 2019, from 24.1 GW in 2018 to 28.1 GW in 2019. Wind power accounted for 18% of the electricity generated in Texas in 2019, compared with 6% in 2010.

— Renewables Now

 

KLTV: SWEPCO proposes 15 percent rate change for Texas customers

Oct. 15 — Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), an American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) company, has submitted a request to the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) for a net annual increase of $90.2 million in the company’s non-fuel base rates. On a total customer bill basis, the net increase is approximately 15.6%.

— KLTV

 

Utility Dive: Lithium-ion dominates utility storage; could competing chemistries change that?

Oct. 15 — The industry is growing increasingly comfortable with lithium-ion, but its limitations open up a space for other technologies to compete in the storage mix.

— Utility Dive

 

 

Utility Dive: Cities push ahead on Energy Efficiency as a Service as private sector plays catch up

Oct. 5 — The proliferation of new technologies has transformed areas of mobility and software into comprehensive service offerings to bolster operations. Now, public sector entities are leading the charge on a tech-driven service offering that’s been bubbling under the surface for decades: Energy Efficiency as a Service (EEaaS).

— Utility Dive

 

Bloomberg: Permian site leaked gases uncontrollably for months, group says

Oct. 9 — An oil well site in the Permian Basin owned by a bankrupt shale producer has spewed polluting gases into the atmosphere for 10 months, despite being investigated by Texas regulators, according to an environmental group.

— Bloomberg

 

Houston Chronicle: As Trump deregulated environmental protections, society pushed back

Oct. 9 — President Donald Trump has undertaken a rollback of environmental regulations unlike anything in U.S. history, promising new manufacturing and industrial activity in the United States while drawing dire warnings from environmentalists.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle: US oil and gas industry lost 107,000 jobs in the pandemic. Most will take years to return

Oct 9 — Texas, the nation’s top oil producing state, has borne the brunt of the industry’s layoffs. Drilling and oil-field services companies operating in Texas employed 162,350 workers in June, about half of the 297,100 workers at their peak of employment in December 2014, according to the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.

— Houston Chronicle

 

KVUE: Election race for Texas railroad commissioner

Oct. 10 — It’s a title that could come off as a little misleading. That’s because the Texas Railroad Commission doesn’t regulate railroads anymore, but does still serve an important role in Texas. The Texas Railroad Commission is a state agency that regulates oil and gas production.

— KVUE

 

Houston Chronicle: Biden would be good for oil prices, Goldman Sachs says

Oct. 12 — But new analysis by Goldman Sachs says that compared with a second term of the Trump administration, a Biden presidency could be a positive for U.S. oil and gas drillers because tougher regulations on hydraulic fracturing would likely reduce production, raising crude prices.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Reform Austin: Texas Gets an ‘F’ on Teaching Kids About Climate Change

Oct. 12 — Thirty six states and the District of Columbia rely on the Next Generation Science Standards for developing course curriculum on climate change and global warming. Texas isn’t one of them. Instead, Texas is among six states that have chosen to write its own standards. That is the reason for the state’s F grade in the report.

— Reform Austin

 

ProPublica: Inside the Utility Company Lobbying Blitz That Will Hike Electric Bills

Oct. 9 — Democrats who campaigned against Virginia’s largest public utility, Dominion Energy, swept into office. Then the company’s lobbying efforts kicked into high gear. Here’s how it fought against legislation meant to lower residents’ electric bills.

— ProPublica

 

Dallas Morning News: ‘It looks like an atomic bomb went off’: Many express outrage over Oncor’s clear-cutting of White Rock nature area

Oct 9 — “They destroyed an ecological jewel,” said Kelly Cotten, a nearby resident of the area and longtime White Rock environmental activist, after Oncor contractors last month bulldozed and clear cut a wide swath of land that runs through a beloved, historic wildlife area close to lake.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Bloomberg: Permian site leaked gases uncontrollably for months, group says

Oct. 9 — An oil well site in the Permian Basin owned by a bankrupt shale producer has spewed polluting gases into the atmosphere for 10 months, despite being investigated by Texas regulators, according to an environmental group.

— Bloomberg

 

Culture Map Dallas: White Rock Lake clear-cutting leads this round of Dallas news

Oct. 9 — The Dallas City Council is considering the return of scooters on city streets, but only with the understanding that operators will hew to the rules, including verifying the age of users so that juveniles can’t use them; disabling the scooters at night; and keep them evenly distributed, no more than eight scooters per block. They’ll only allow two companies to operate. A public meeting is supposed to take place on October 15.

— Culture Map

 

D Magazine: Oncor’s Clear-Cut Lies and Prevarications at White Rock Lake

Oct. 9 — The company’s statements about its destruction of part of the Old Fish Hatchery don’t align with reality.

— D Magazine

 

Reform Austin News: Abandoned Oil Wells May Cost Texas Taxpayers $117B

Oct. 9 — About 783,000 unplugged oil wells across Texas have been abandoned by their owners, according to a new report by Carbon Tracker, a nonprofit think tank researching the impact of climate change on financial markets. That’s about 20% of the 3.8 million abandoned wells in the nation.

— Reform Austin News

 

Houston Chronicle: Texas residential power use is up as more people work, study at home

Oct. 7 — Consumers are using about 6 percent more power than they did a year ago, according to Innowatts, the Houston-based energy analytics company that collects data from 40 million electricity meters.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Houston Chronicle (Commentary): Crenshaw’s tired talking points on renewable energy no longer apply

Oct. 7 — For reasons I cannot fathom, conservatives such as Crenshaw like to mislead the public about the viability of wind and solar energy, limitless fuels that have kept electricity prices in Texas among the lowest in the nation. The only reason to dislike renewable energy is if your donors and supporters make their money from uncompetitive fossil fuels.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Utility Dive: How Austin Energy simultaneously managed COVID-19 and a new carbon price adder

Oct. 8 — In a bid to slash emissions, Austin Energy was just beginning to utilize a new carbon price adder when COVID-19 hit. The mechanism would limit coal dispatch and eliminate thousands of tons of carbon emissions. Despite a pandemic that has upended traditional ways of doing business and forced the utility to turn its focus from energy to employee and customer health, the clean energy strategy has worked.

— Utility Dive

 

Houston Chronicle:  CenterPoint Energy failed to disclose New York hedge fund’s $1.3B investment, according to complaint

Oct. 7 — Two consumer advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week against CenterPoint Energy of Houston for allegedly failing to disclose its recent financial ties to a New York hedge fund.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Dallas Morning News (Commentary):  Regulators can support the Texas economy by knocking down hurdles to build pipelines

Oct. 7 — The best way to ensure our nation’s energy future and stability is by fostering a regulatory environment that is conducive to large-scale infrastructure investment.

— Dallas Morning News

 

Utility Dive: The value of solar in Texas has surged even more than its growth

Oct. 6 — Bucking popular wisdom, the relative value of solar-weighted generation in Texas’ main power market, ERCOT, reached an extremely high value in 2019 – well above recent levels for anywhere in the US. They remain relatively high in 2020, despite a much calmer ERCOT market. What’s more, ERCOT futures pricing now indicate solar-weighted power value may stay elevated for years to come.

— Utility Dive

 

D Magazine: Oncor Lays Waste to Swath of Land at White Rock Lake

Oct. 6 —  Oncor came through with some heavy machinery and turned about 15 percent of the area into mulch. I cycled over there yesterday afternoon to have a look. From the hike and bike trail, you can’t see the destruction.

– D Magazine

 

KPRC-TV: Is gas line protection pitched from Centerpoint necessary?

Oct. 5 — Does Centerpoint get a cut of the premiums? Consumer expert Amy Davis asked Plummer that question. He said Centerpoint is making money from the program.

— KPRC TV

 

Houston Chronicle: Will electricity merger provide power for wholesale market?

Oct. 5 — The expansion, Octopus officials say, is tied to growth in electrification demand that will make consumers more focused on electricity prices. The power industry in competitive areas — such as Houston and Dallas — is ripe for disruption, much like the airline industry was years ago when discount airlines challenged the legacy carriers.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Solar Power World: U.S. solar generation grows 22.2% even through coronavirus pandemic

Sept. 28 — For the period January-July, solar-generated electricity expanded by 22.2% (compared to the same period in 2019) and provided nearly 3.4% of the nation’s total. Wind grew by 13.0% and accounted for almost 8.5% of total generation. Combined, net electrical generation by wind and solar is 15.5% greater than one year ago. Together with hydropower, biomass and geothermal, renewables provided 21.2% of total electrical output — up from 19.2% a year earlier.

— Solar Power World

 

Utility Dive: FERC has legal authority to implement a carbon price, experts tell commissioners

Oct. 1 — Under sections 206 and 205 of the Federal Power Act, FERC has the authority to actualize such a policy through the regional transmission operators (RTO) and independent system operators (ISO), six panelists spanning academia and industry law told commissioners. But a slightly murkier question is whether the commission has the power to implement such a tariff unilaterally — an issue Commissioner James Danly was particularly interested in.

— Utility Dive

 

Clean Technica: Rocky Mountain Institute Study Shows Renewables Are Kicking Natural Gas To The Curb

Oct. 3 — After analyzing the most recent data from two of America’s largest electricity markets — ERCOT in Texas and PJM in the Northeast — the Rocky Mountain Institute has come to a startling conclusion. Renewables are muscling in on natural gas as the preferred choice for new electricity generation. In fact, according to RMI, what happened to coal is now happening to gas. What is needed, the organization argues, is a move away from the monopoly markets that have been the norm in the utility industry for more than 100 years and toward more open competition. Because when renewables compete head to head with thermal generation, they win hands down 95% of the time.

— Clean Technica

 

The Houston Chronicle: Disconnected? There may be another way to pay power bills

Oct. 2 — The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that Congress passed in March provides an extra $94 million to help eligible low-income Texans affected by the coronavirus pandemic pay their utility bills, according to the Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute, an Austin based research group that focuses on energy and fuel poverty in Texas.

— Houston Chronicle

 

Plainview Herald: Increase in natural gas costs could mean higher electric bills for Xcel Energy customers

Oct. 2 — Xcel Energy is awaiting approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas to revise the monthly fuel cost factor that collects for natural gas and coal that fuel area power plans and the cost of electricity purchased from other suppliers, according to the news released. Approval could mean an increase of 6% or $6.29 more per month starting Nov. 1 for bills of 1,000 kilowatt-hours.

— Plainview Herald