E&E News: Major power producer drops ‘energy’ from name in jab at oil

June 30 — Vistra Energy Corp., a power producer and retailer based in oil-soaked Texas, said yesterday it plans to remove “energy” from its name while pushing toward a cleaner energy portfolio. The name Vistra Corp. better reflects “who we are and where we are going as an organization,” the company said in a statement.

— E&E News


Texas Standard: An LNG Glut Could Mean Lower Energy Prices For Consumers

June 29 — The continuing glut of liquified natural gas, or LNG, shows no signs of ending any time soon. As LNG exports continue to drop, lower LNG prices could benefit consumers.

— Texas Standard


RTO Insider: Companies Debate When to Bring Back Staff

June 29 — GCPA hosted a discussion with ERCOT CEO Bill Magness and AEP’s Scott Smith on the future of office work amid and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

— RTO Insider


Houston Chronicle: Bank of America to buy solar power from NRG Energy

June 30 — The power will be generated by a yet-to-be-identified solar farm in west central Texas that is expected to come online in two years. The deal will contribute to the bank’s commitment to buy all its electricity from renewable sources and reduce its impact on the environment, according to Bank of America.

— Houston Chronicle


Waco Tribune-Herald: Mart area catching boost from renewable energy development

June 27 — The $330 million Prairie Hill wind project, created by Engie North America, sprawls over 32,000 acres in McLennan and Limestone counties, and its towers can be seen from more than 10 miles away.

— Waco Tribune-Herald


Utility Dive: A COVID-19 hit to public power? For some, it’s not all bad

June 25 — Municipal utilities and other public power entities have unique challenges, and some advantages, when dealing with the financial impacts of the pandemic and recession.

— Utility Dive


Reform Austin: Ways You Can Get Help Paying Summer Power Bills

June 24 — Air conditioning typically accounts for nearly 50% of electric bills in Texas during the summer months, Leslie Sopko, communications manager for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said Wednesday. ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers — representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load.

— Reform Austin


Houston Chronicle: Once ‘the golden boy,’ ex-Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is out of prison

June 26 — Nearly 20 years after Enron collapsed, 14 years after he went to prison, and one year after he was released, Skilling continues to fascinate, a measure of the outsized role the company’s rise and fall played in the modern history and psyche of Houston. For years, Enron’s transformation from a small natural gas pipeline company to one of America’s most admired companies was a point of local pride, a success story entailing vision, risk taking and execution.

— Houston Chronicle


Midland Daily News: After flooding, conservationists promote renewable energy development

June 24 — The failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams and the subsequent flooding that destroyed much of downtown Sanford and flooded many homes and businesses in Midland and Saginaw counties is a symptom of a larger climate change crisis facing the United States, according to speakers on a 90-minute webinar Wednesday morning.

— Midland Daily News


Platts: Will ERCOT summer power prices see a repeat of 2019 fireworks?

June 24 — More generation and uncertainty around peak loads due to stuttering economy should make for less strain on the system. However, the factors that led to last year’s price spikes remain, and new elements have been added to the equation, reinforcing the enormous upside tail risk in pricing.

— Platts


Platts: Weak natural gas prices contribute to depressed ERCOT summer power prices

June 24 — ERCOT North Hub July-August strip has been trading far under $100/MWh over the past seven days. Currently, the package is trading on the Intercontinental Exchange at an average of about $93.00/MWh. The last time the July-August strip traded above $100/MWh was on June 17, settling right around $101/MWh. For comparison, ERCOT North Hub power sat at an average of $109.55/MWh for July-August of 2019.

— Platts

KSAT: Eagle Ford shale sees 85% drop in oil rigs compared to last year

June 24 — The shale play had a total of 11 rigs at the end of last week, down from 13 the week prior, according to the latest data from oilfield services firm Baker Hughes Inc. South Texas, which encompasses the Eagle Ford as well as other oil and gas formations like the Austin Chalk and the San Antonio area, had 17 rigs total after holding at 19 for two weeks, according to the Business Journal’s analysis of the data. To arrive at that number, the Business Journal tallied rig counts from Railroad Commission of Texas districts 1-4.



KVUE: Kinder Morgan sued for allegedly violating federal Safe Drinking Water Act

June 24 — In late March, a pipeline construction error allowed thousands of gallons of drilling fluid to contaminate the drinking water of several Blanco County landowners.



Utility Dive (Commentary): Will regulators allow utilities to reap a windfall because of COVID-19?

June 23 — Most businesses are suffering a loss from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Less demand exists for products they sell. Those providing a continuous service, from apartment rentals to broadband subscriptions, have seen an uptick in nonpayment. Few of these businesses will be made whole — except, perhaps, for one industry: utilities.

— Utility Dive


San Antonio Business Journal: South Texas oil rig counts continue to fall

June 23 — An already grim count ticked two rigs lower, according to the latest data collected by Baker Hughes.

— San Antonio Business-Journal


Houston Public Media: The U.S. Is The Most Attractive Country For Investors In Renewable Energy. What Does That Mean For Houston?

June 22 — A recent report from consulting firm Ernst & Young shows the U.S. is at the top of the list for those looking to pump money into renewable energy.

— Houston Public Media


Austin American-Statesman: Blanco County residents sue company over drilling spill

June 22 — Albright is one of four Blanco County residents who have filed a federal lawsuit against Kinder Morgan LLC, alleging that the Houston-based pipeline company violated the national Safe Drinking Water Act as it worked to construct the Permian Highway Pipeline. Kinder Morgan pumped 36,000 gallons of drilling fluid into the aquifer on March 28 as the company attempted to drill under the Blanco River.

— Austin American- Statesman


The Hill: Black households pay more for energy than white households

June 23 — A working paper from the University of California, Berkeley’s Energy Institute at Haas found that, when controlling for year, income, household size and city of residence, Black renters paid $273 more per year for energy than white renters between 2010 and 2017.

— The Hill


Houston Chronicle: Drillers turn attention to Haynesville Shale

June 22 — Crude prices last week lingered under $40 a barrel, but many industry observers believe that the ongoing drilling permit slump could lead to higher natural gas prices this year due to less natural gas being produced as a byproduct from oil wells.

— Houston Chronicle


Vox: A national US power grid would make electricity cheaper and cleaner

June 20 — Electricity is the fuel of the future. And as more and more of American life is electrified — transportation and buildings are already on their way — the electricity grid will face greater demands and will need to evolve to meet them.

— Vox


Midland Reporter-Telegram: Drilling Permits drop nearly 30 percent from March to April

June 19 — The decline continued the downward trend as permits to drill new oil/gas holes in the region fell from 520 in January to 375 in March and to 263 in April. Across the state, the number of permits has fallen from 1,041 in January to 416 in April. No other district had more than 40, according to the RRC.

— Midland Reporter-Telegram


Houston Chronicle (Commentary): Ending natural gas flaring in Texas is only the beginning

June 19 — The Texas Railroad Commission permitted oil and gas producers to destroy $750 million worth of natural gas in a single year, and despite the pleas of royalty owners and environmentalists, it allows that waste to continue.

— Houston Chronicle


Utility Dive: Rising energy loads from fewer COVID-19 limits, warming weather spark utility readiness concerns

June 17 — Economic restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic are easing in some parts of the country as temperatures have begun to warm. As a result, grid operators are now seeing electricity demand rise after a significant drop this spring, leading to concerns about their ability to keep the lights on — and how outages could impact vulnerable populations.

— Utility Dive


The Hill (Commentary): We still need coal to ensure power grid reliability

June 18 — Coal still accounts for 24 percent of America’s electricity. What is more, coal plants — along with nuclear and large natural gas facilities — constitute “base-load” power that is critical for maintaining grid stability and reliability. Unlike intermittent wind and solar, coal plants are “always on.” And unlike natural gas plants, they keep months of fuel on site, providing essential security and resiliency for a grid increasingly dependent on just-in-time fuel delivery. However, with more than half the states having partially or totally deregulated their power markets, often no mechanism exists to ensure the economic viability of base-load generation that must compete with cheap natural gas and subsidized renewables.

— The Hill


KVIA: El Paso Electric customers in Texas to see summer bill decrease

June 18 — El Paso Electric customers who reside in Texas will see a decrease on their electric bills during the peak usage season of the summer, utility officials announced Thursday. The company said it has filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas to give a fuel refund to Texas customers over a two-month period.