news by location
A surge in solar investor gains across the South
From Florida to Texas, regulatory relief is driving the uptake of solar-powered electricity generation. Investors have received outsize returns, as a result, this year.
Editorial: East Texas’ lignite industry’s time has passed
“Utilities here and elsewhere haven’t jumped at the opportunity to return to coal, however, because they understand that in the long range it isn’t a wise choice either ecologically or economically.”
In a sign of the times, Exxon taps wind and solar for Texas oil-patch power
In a state once largely reliant on coal-fired electricity generation, ExxonMobil has signed a 12-year deal for solar and wind power to expand drilling its operations in the Permian Basin.
Shale-energy companies commit $100 million to community-impact programs in New Mexico and Texas
A consortium of 17 companies have pledge $100 million in public-service funding for communities affected by the shale-energy boom. Funds are earmarked for schools, healthcare, roads, housing and business development.
Texas county anticipates millions in revenue from newest wind project
Cameron County, Texas, which encompasses the southernmost corner of the state, is anticipating collecting $40 million in tax revenue over the course of the 25-year life of the area’s newest windfarm. Property owners will make an additional $44 million in lease payments from the project, which will generate enough electricity to power 46,000 homes. “It’s a win-win,” one official said.
Commentary: ‘Another Texas coal-plant closing, another market signal’
An announcement last week by American Electric Power that it will close the 650-megawatt Oklaunion coal plant in north-central Texas by 2020 is just the latest indication of a shrinking sector of the U.S. electricity-generation industry. It is the most recent in a string of coal-plant closures in the state. “The markets, imperfect as they may be, want wind and solar,” writes the author.
Another coal plant closure in Texas
A coal-fired generation station in northern Texas will be retired in 2020 because it can no longer turn a profit, according to its majority owner, Ohio-based American Electric Power, one of the biggest power producers in the country. The closure is the sixth of its kind announced in Texas in the past several months. “The plant was no longer competitive,” an AEP spokesman said.
Texas grid operators turned to wind over the long course of a hot summer
The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the power grid across most of the state, upstage naysayers this summer by turning heavily to wind-powered generation over coal while simultaneously keeping rates down and avoiding heat-wave blackouts. “ERCOT proved grids can shut down uneconomical coal plants, rely on renewable energy and still provide reliability and reasonable prices.”
Editorial: Innovation is preferable to stagnation
Market forces have aligned with public health concerns and environmental concerns to propel a power-generation shift that is epitomized by the impending shutdown by CPS Energy of the coal-fired J.T. Deely plant in south-central Texas. Resisting such change would prove unprofitable, writes a San Antonio editorial board: “The risk, beyond premature death or an unnecessarily warmer world, is that other nations will innovate as we stagnate.”
Editorial: ‘No reason to bail out coal industry’
A Texas newspaper is questioning former Energy Secretary Rick Perry—a former Texas governor—on a proposed federal program to save failing coal-fired power plants. “It’s bad economics and bad environmental policy. Perry should remember what he championed as governor. That would mean endorsing energy policies in the interest of American consumers and enterprise, not select industries.”
Texas town ‘knew it was coming,’ but is reeling nonetheless from plant closing
The town of Rockdale, Texas, lost much of its tax base with the recent shutdown of the coal-fired Sandow Power Plant. Over 300 jobs were eliminated by the closure in January, and the local school district will collect only $614,000 in property taxes this year from the plant’s owner, Luminant, compared with $4.1 million last year. “We knew that it was coming,” said one local official. “We just didn’t think that it was coming this fast.”
Texas city of 50,000 goes 100% renewable, setting a pace for others
Georgetown, Texas, a community of about 50,000 people near Austin, has become the first city in Texas to switch entirely to renewable electricity generation. The city has signed long-term deals for solar- and wind-powered energy in a move that has rid it of its former reliance on coal and natural gas and that serves as a model other municipalities can follow. “Georgetown has already reached out to neighboring cities to help them make the same changes,” reports an Austin cable-news station.
Utility trends don’t bode very well for fossil-fuel-fired electricity
Two huge interstate electricity companies—Vista Energy and Dominion Energy—are at the forefront of an industry retooling that favors cheap renewable forms of generation over natural gas and coal. The trend embodies “a bearish view of fossil-fuel energy” as solar and wind farms gain market share nationally, “curbing orders for new plants and forcing the closure of old ones.”
Editorial: China Is Becoming the New Texas
“Consider this a friendly warning that things can change quickly,” says a Texas editorial that acknowledges the fast pace of change across the global energy economy and that sees Asia as the epicenter of rapid advances in solar and wind. “Decades may seem like a long time — until you imagine trying to convince 1980s coal country that it needed to worry about natural gas.”
Coal company with mines in several states is in financial peril
An analysis of Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal shows that it is in deep financial peril, a situation that may affect communities in Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wyoming as the company’s customer base dries up. “The cost inherent in coal-fired power are moving (utilities) away from coal," says the study’s author.
Texas Town Faces Transition in January Plant Closure
With the closure of the Sandow Coal Power Plant a few weeks off, the east-central town of Rockdale is trying to come to grips with the loss of hundreds of jobs. The plant is one of three being shuttered by Luminant, the biggest power producer in Texas. “Whatever happens, everyone agrees Rockdale needs to attract more industry and employers.”
In Texas Plant Closings, a National Trend Persists
Two imminent power-plant closings in Texas spell difficulties for a coal mine in Wyoming that depends on those plants for more than its demand. The closures of the Monticello and Big Brown plants by utility company Luminant will add to an expected shutdown in 2018 nationally of more than 13,600 megawatts of coal-fired power, compared with 7,600 in 2017.