Articles filed under Energy Policy from Texas
Some call it a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels, but others point to significant environmental costs. In Kansas, where winds blow strong, the push for clean energy includes not only new wind turbines but also new nuclear-power plants as part of a "carbon-free" solution to climate change. It's an idea that may be catching on. At least 11 new nuclear plants are in the design stage in nine states, including Virginia, Texas, and Florida, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute website. But that carbon-free pitch has researchers asking anew: How carbon-free is nuclear power? And how cost-effective is it in the fight to slow global warming? "Saying nuclear is carbon-free is not true," says Uwe Fritsche, a researcher at the Öko Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, who has conducted a life-cycle analysis of the plants. "It's less carbon-intensive than fossil fuel. But if you are honest, scientifically speaking, the truth is: There is no carbon-free energy. There's no free lunch."
HOUSTON – Texas, as everyone knows, does everything big. Its giant oil and gas fields dominate America's energy patch. It is now the nation's largest wind producer, with more than 2,000 turbines gathering some of the country's strongest currents. It gets the booby prize for being the biggest producer of greenhouse gases. And now Texas faces a big hole in its electricity production, since the country's second-most-populous state also happens to be one of the fastest growing because of immigration and the rise in riches from the recent increase in oil and gas prices. That hole just got bigger as the TXU Corp., the state's largest utility, scrapped eight new coal-fired plants under a deal it has agreed to with potential new owners. The deal has delighted many environmentalists, but it has also stoked one Texas-size problem. Unless new generation is built quickly from some source, Texas energy production in 2009 will fall below reserves recommended by the state operator of the power transmission grid for guaranteeing smooth operations during peak periods of high heat.
Several Texas energy companies offered Thursday to build a string of wind, gas and coal-fired power plants and transmission lines across the Panhandle that could lessen the state’s future dependence on coal while supplying enough electricity for more than a million Texas homes. More than 15 proposals were filed with the Public Utilities Commission to meet a Thursday deadline for competitive renewable energy zones, mostly in the Panhandle and West Texas. The largest proposal, called the Panhandle Loop, involves a $1.5 billion transmission system and $10 billion in power plants. Project sponsors say the entire system could be available within three years.
Four Texas environmental organizations are suing Gov. Rick Perry over his order to fast-track permitting for proposed power plant projects, alleging the actions are illegal and unconstitutional. TXU Corp. has proposed to build several new coal-powered plants in Texas, and its $10 billion plans in the state include expansion at TXU’s Monticello power station in Mount Pleasant, Texas. The company wants to add a 858-megawatt electric generating unit at the plant which would use coal and lignite. The lawsuit, filed this past week in Travis County state district court, was initiated by four groups, including East Texas Environmental Concerns. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges it’s unconstitutional for Perry to manage the way the State Office of Administrative Hearings conducts hearings. SOAH is now considering TXU’s application after a draft air permit was issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in October...............Ted Royer, spokesman for Perry, disputed the illegality of Perry’s fast-track plan. “It is yet another unfortunate attempt by these groups to turn Texas into California when it comes to generating the power we need. If these groups have their way, a few decades from now Texans will flip a light switch and nothing will happen,” said Royer. “The fact is we are one of the fastest growing states in America and our population will double to 40 million people in the next few decades and that creates a huge demand for energy.” Royer said Perry’s strategy is to address that “coming crisis” through investing in such things as wind energy and clean energy sources and by encouraging conservation and building new plants. He said Perry’s order didn’t lower standards or regulations the new Texas power plants would have to meet.
The most scandalous aspect of the coal-plant controversy is the refusal -- yea, the inability -- of coal-plant foes to describe just how they'd go about providing for Texas' large and growing energy needs at a time of shrinking natural gas supplies and deep opposition to nuclear power. We hear about "conservation." We hear about wind power, solar power; we sometimes even hear about coal gasification. We never hear coal-plant foes explain how that's going to happen, and what it would mean and cost. Coal gasification, for instance: The technology is (at present) expensive and still under development. Wind? A nice little supplement, but a major source? Show us where and how much.
Wood, who now is in the business of developing clean power generation and independent transmission, believes the state needs a balanced approach to power generation. "We need wind but we also need coal -- cleaned up as much as you can," Wood suggested, in addition to natural gas, which currently fuels more than half ERCOT's power.
John Richey of Chico is concerned about global warming and thinks that anything people can do to help the cause is worthwhile. With that in mind, Richey attended a meeting about wind turbines in Jacksboro on Monday night. The speakers at the meeting – held before a packed house in the Jacksboro High School auditorium – were generally opposed to wind turbines.
Residents of Jack and surrounding counties nearly filled a school auditorium Monday to hear speakers presented by a group opposing wind turbines in the region. Jack County Concerned Landowners, which hosted the forum, invited residents of Archer, Cooke, Montague, Palo Pinto, Wichita, Wise and Young counties to attend. Arguing against development of wind energy were Jack Hunt, president and CEO of King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas, Thomas Hewson, an energy and environmental consultant, and Steven Thompson, a Houston attorney specializing in environmental law and wind energy.
The Panhandle could be a step closer to plugging into the electric market downstate on Monday.
An assurance from Gov. Rick Perry about the future of wind energy is already boosting spirits in Odessa. Neil McDonald, economic development director of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, said he is now talking with three wind power-generation companies interested in the Odessa area. McDonald acknowledged that Perry’s announcement will help those negotiations along as well as possibly bringing more wind-power representatives to West Texas. McDonald said it was still too early to identify the companies.
On an April afternoon in Dallas, not long after parts of the state had lost power in a series of rolling blackouts, Gov. Rick Perry made a get-tough proclamation. “We’re not going to let the bureaucrats jerk us around,” he said. The governor was talking about electricity that day — specifically 11 coal-fired plants proposed by TXU — and the bureaucrats he challenged weren’t those in Washington but the ones in the state government. Perry stood shoulder-to-shoulder with John Wilder, TXU’s CEO, when he made the pronouncement. The “bureaucrats won’t be allowed to hold up approval” for the TXU plants, Perry said. His support of those plants has become a hot issue in his race for re-election. Perry called last year’s blackouts a “wake-up” call for a state that needs more energy, but his major rivals say the state can find a more environmentally friendly way to meet that challenge.
The state of Texas will partner with private-sector parties to invest more than $10 billion in new wind energy infrastructure, Gov. Rick Perry said Monday. The wind energy initiative will diversify the state's energy production, clean up the air and help Texas surpass its renewable energy goals, Perry said in an announcement Monday at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Just last fall, it appeared the Texas coal rush was rolling ahead like an unstoppable locomotive. Skyrocketing natural gas prices were pushing electricity prices up, and electric demand was growing. Coal, relatively cheap and relatively dirty, seemed the reasonable alternative. Gov. Rick Perry last fall ordered regulators to expedite coal plant applications, and environmentalists feared the plants would be rushed through and rubber-stamped. Companies such as TXU subsequently lined up earlier this year to file a batch of new applications, resulting in 17 proposed coal units, including 10 in Central Texas. But this summer, the coal train has hit some rough rails.
To meet the demands of a rapidly swelling population, Texas needs to expand and diversify its electric generation capacity. It also must build cleaner, less polluting power plants. That's why it is good to see TXU propose to build as many as six nuclear power reactors at up to three sites.
Houston-based Reliant has sparked a debate over subsidies that has the EPA, citizens and consumer advocates concerned
The thing about West Texas that you can't ignore, that you can never forget, is the wind.
The Texas project, announced in June with plants scheduled to begin operations in 2014, is expected to be the first in a new wave of economical and emissions-free nuclear power plants.
For environmental and geopolitical reasons, the U.S. must reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Traditional coal-fired plants are dirty and contribute to foul air problems in North Texas and elsewhere. Coal gasification, a cleaner technology, is relatively untested on a large scale. Wind and solar power are clean but insufficient. Natural gas is becoming more expensive.
In June, Austin-based Green Mountain Energy Company – self-described as "one of the nation's largest retail providers of cleaner electricity products," generated from sources such as wind, solar, water, biomass, and natural gas – announced the crosstown relocation of its headquarters from aquifer-sensitive west Austin to an award-winning green office tower downtown, in anticipation of growth and expansion. By the time the move was complete, however, the energy provider had discontinued servicing about 480,000 customers in Ohio and Pennsylvania, laid off 15% of its workforce, and found itself facing suit in federal court. Green Mountain blames regulatory and market obstacles for its woes, but its critics cite an over-reliance on natural gas and a lack of investment in the very clean energy sources the company has made its trademark.