Texas Electric News provides all of the important news for Texas Electric Industry, including developments in ERCOT, Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), and Texas Legislature.

News Flashes 2017

News Flashes
Copyright 2017 by Competitive Assets, LLC.  All rights reserved

Today (5/25/17)

Committee Hearing Set for Trump’s FERC Nominees
After some delays, President Trump’s nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will get a hearing. ….…..Click here for more

Glass Solar Windows to Follow Glass Solar Roofs?
Tesla’s new solar roof is made up of ‘shingles,’ some of which will have active solar cells. …………….Click here for more

Advocates for Renewables File ‘Pre-buttal’ to DOE Grid Report
As the Department of Energy (DOE) works on a new electric-grid study, environmental advocates fear that the result has been pre-determined.………….Click here for more

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New Trump Budget Retains Deep Cuts to EPA, DOE
The latest budget proposal from President Trump remains unchanged from two months ago, at least for the agencies dealing with energy issues and environment.….…..Click here for more

Svinicki to Continue as NRC Chair
President Trump proposed to maintain the same leadership at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).……………….Click here for more

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Texas Legislature Passes bill to Limit Wind Farms
On 5/22/17, the Texas House of Representatives voted to approve Senate Bill 277 (SB277), as amended.….…..Click here for more

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Legislature Approves a Bill for Periodic Utility Rate Adjustments
On 5/19/17, the Texas legislature sent to the Governor a Senate bill setting out a periodic rate review for electric utilities in ERCOT..….…..Click here for more

Generator M&A Chatter Grows with Vistra Rumors After the rumors about Vistra Energy making an offer to take over Dynegy appeared online last week, additional commentary was published about merchant generator M&A activity………………….Click here for more

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Vistra Energy Buys 180MW West Texas Solar Farm
On 5/17/17, SeekingAlpha reported that “Vistra Energy (VST -2.1%) says it purchased the Upton County Solar 2 development project in Texas, one of the state’s largest utility-scale solar farms….…..Click here for more

Sluggish White House Hamstrings Pruitt’s Agenda
On 5/17/17, EE News reported that “President Trump has so far failed to provide the U.S. EPA staffers needed to execute an aggressive deregulatory game plan….……………….Click here for more

California Utilities Are Losing Customers, so the State Mulls Retail Electricity Choice
On 5/17/17, GreenTech Media reported that “the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission will be holding their first hearing” to talk through changes to the state’s energy regulatory construct –…………..Click here for more

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Southern Power Begins Operations at 102-MW Texas Solar Project
On 5/16/17, Power Engineering reported that “Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, announced commercial operations at the 102-MW Lamesa Solar Facility in Dawson County, Texas.….…..Click here for more

Power Companies Press DC Circuit for CPP Decision as EPA Argues for Indefinite Stay
On 5/16/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to indefinitely delay litigation on the Clean Power Plan……………….Click here for more

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Ahead of PUCT Rejection, NextEra Sought Leverage over Energy Future Creditors
On 5/12/17, S&P Global reported that “Elliott Management Corp.’s pursuit of an alternative reorganization plan for Energy Future Holdings Corp., or EFH, has shed light on the effort by NextEra Energy Inc. to exert….…..Click here for more

Austin among Top 10 Energy Efficient Cities
On 5/15/17, Electric Light and Power reported that the City of Austin was ranked among the top 10 US cities for energy efficiency. The rankings were determined by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in its third City Energy Efficiency Scorecard.……………….Click here for more

PJM: Higher Fuel Costs Drove up Q1 Power Prices
On 5/15/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “PJM Interconnection’s wholesale electric energy, capacity and regulation markets are all functioning and producing competitive prices, according to a report from the grid operator’s independent monitor. ………………..Click here for more

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CAISO Launches Initiative to Support Struggling Generators
On 5/12/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “California ISO this week launched an initiative to explore how it could lend support to struggling generators in its wholesale power markets. ….…..Click here for more

Trump’s Cybersecurity Executive Order Calls for Power Grid Assessment
On 5/12/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “President Donald Trump issued an executive order on cybersecurity.……………….Click here for more

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RTO Markets at Crossroads, as Hobbled FERC Ponders Options
On 5/8/17, RTO Insider reported that at least “50 stakeholders from PJM, NYISO, and ISO-NE made their cases to FERC last week on how to resolve the increasing conflicts between state energy policies and wholesale markets.”….…..Click here for more

Tesla’s Solar Roof Sets Musk’s Grand Unification into Motion
On 5/11/17, reports were published in Bloomberg and ELP that Tesla has opened an online registration site for customers to start signing up for its new solar roof.……………….Click here for more

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Calpine Mulls Sale of its Assets
On 5/10/17, SeekingAlpha noted a report by the Wall Street Journal that Calpine (CPN +14.1%), one of the biggest U.S. power generators, is working with Lazard to sound out potential buyers.”.…….…..Click here for more

RES, Goldwind Building Rattlesnake Wind Project in Texas
On 5/10/17, Electric Light & Power, reported that “Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and Chicago-based Goldwind Americas, a unit of Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, won notice to………………….Click here for more

Natural Gas Plant Build-out Disrupts PJM Power Market
On 5/10/17, Electric Light & Power reported that “[a] large influx of natural gas plants entering PJM Interconnection due to the cheap gas supply from ………Click here for more

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Itron to Acquire Comverge for $100M, Diving into the Demand Response Business
On 5/8/17, GreenTech Media reported that “[s]mart metering giant Itron announced Monday that it will acquire demand response provider Comverge for about $100 million.…….…..Click here for more

NRG Energy Review Includes Potential Sale of All Renewables
On 5/9/17, SeekingAlpha noted Bloomberg’s report that “NRG is is considering a recommendation to sell its entire renewable energy business, as the company faces pressure from activist investor Elliott Management to cut costs….……………….Click here for more

Google Eyes Defection from NV Energy Service
On 5/9/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “Google filed a petition with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada last week seeking to clarify rules governing corporations who want to purchase power from providers other than incumbent utility NV Energy.…………Click here for more

Bills to Protect the Electric Grid Progressing at the Texas Legislature
Two bills in the current legislative session address the need for additional security for the electric grid.…….Click her for more

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NextEra Files Motion for Rehearing in Oncor Case
On 5/8/17, NextEra Energy filed with the PUCT a Motion for Rehearing (MFR) in the Oncor acquisition case. A month ago, the company’s application to buy Oncor was rejected by the Commission as not being in the public interest. The case was subject to a four-day hearing on the merits in February; additionally, at the 3/30/17 open meeting, Commissioners discussed it and noted that negotiations were still possible. The 4/13/17 final order.…….…..Click here for more

CenterPoint Posts Profits for First Quarter
On 5/6/17, SeekingAlpha posted a transcript of CenterPoint’s earnings call, during which CEO Scott Prochazka reported that, despite a warm winter in the Houston Electric area, “Electric Transmission and Distribution core operating income in the first quarter of 2017 was $58 million, compared to $59 million in the same quarter last year. We continue to see strong growth in our electric service territory. We added more than……….Click here for more

Senator Wyden Pushes Bill to Overhaul Clean Energy Tax Credits
On 5/4/17, The Hill reported that “Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has introduced a bill to create a new system of federal tax credits for clean energy projects. The bill, dubbed the ‘Clean Energy for America Act,’ would overhaul the existing tax structure for energy development, which today consists of 44 different tax credits. Wyden, ………..Click here for more

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How Blockchain Could Upend Power Markets
Blockchain, a software platform for digital assets, has the potential of revolutionizing electricity markets. …….…..Click here for more

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US Grid Operators Brace for Solar Eclipse this Summer
On 5/3/17, S&P Global reported on how the US grid operators are preparing for the 8/21/17 expected solar eclipse. “A total solar eclipse forecast for Aug. 21 will turn daylight into darkness across the United States, abruptly de-energizing several thousand megawatts at solar power plants in the country’s largest solar markets.…….…..Click here for more

CEO Fanning: Southern Needs $3.7B from Toshiba to Finish Vogtle Nuke
On 5/4/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “Southern Co. will need $3.7 billion in guarantees that Toshiba has posted for its bankrupt Westinghouse Electric unit in order to finish the Vogtle nuclear project in Georgia, the company’s CEO told the Wall Street Journal. Even with that amount, CEO Thomas Fanning told investors ……………Click here for more

California PUC Finalizes New 500MW BTM Battery Storage Mandate
On 5/4/17, UtilityDIVE wrote that the “California Public Utilities Commission has issued an order requiring the state’s three investor owned utilities to procure 500MW of behind-the-meter energy storage, reports The National Law Review.……………Click here for more

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NRG Director Smitherman Won Strong Shareholder Support despite NYC Opposition
On 4/28/17, Reuters reported that Barry Smitherman won the election for a seat on NRG’s board. He was “elected to its board with a strong margin of votes cast, a securities filing showed on Friday, overcoming concerns about his comments on climate change and the intentions of the activist investors who backed him at the New Jersey power company. …….…..Click here for more

Newly Formed Transmission Company in West Adds President, Staff
On 5/3/17, TD World reported that GridLiance HoldCo, LP, announced “the promotion of Calvin Crowder to President of GridLiance South Central Utilities. Crowder will lead GridLiance’s development in the RTO regions of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), ……..Click here for more

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NRG Posts Loss, CEO Sees ERCOT Market as the “Most Attractive”
On 5/2/17, SeekingAlpha published a transcript of NRG’s recent earnings call, showing a loss for the quarter, caused by “lower capacity revenues in the East,” mild weather, and certain other items. Among the CEO Mauricio Gutierrez’s observations captured in the transcript are these points about the ERCOT market: “Total generation was down 9% compared to the first quarter of last year,” mainly in the East.  “This was partially offset by increases in production from our coal units in the Gulf Coast due to higher wholesale prices.” The growth in the retail business has continued. “Our sales were up …….…..Click here for more

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Calpine Leaves Door Open to Inbound M&A Interest, Deals with Low Prices in ERCOT
On 4/28/17, S&P Global reported that on the earnings call, “Calpine Corp. executives dismissed the prospect of pursuing large-scale acquisitions, but stopped short of dismissing the possibility the generator itself would not entertain inbound strategic interest.” In striving for a turnaround, “Calpine outlined specific asset-level decisions in Texas, including the retirement of the 400-MW Clear Lake gas plant…….…..Click here for more

Last Minute Congressional Budget Compromise Saves EPA, Increases ARPA-E Funding
On 5/1/17, UtilityDIVE reported that 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 (ARPA-E). The EPA’s budget was trimmed by 1%,………Click here for more

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Another FERC Commissioner Announces Departure
On 4/28/17, The Hill reported that “Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner (FERC) Colette Honorable said Friday she will leave the board when her term expires in June. ‘After much prayer and consideration, I’ve decided not to pursue another term,’ Honorable wrote in a note posted on Twitter. ‘I appreciate the strong bipartisan …….…..Click here for more

Court Suspends Litigation on Climate Rule in Win for Trump
On 4/28/17, EE News reported that a federal court’s decision Friday morning “to pause litigation over the Clean Power Plan is a win for the Trump administration, making it unlikely that judges will issue a ruling on its legality as U.S. EPA reviews the controversial program. The rule was the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s domestic climate change agenda………Click here for more

Tesla Has Delayed Roll-Out of Its Solar Roof – Here Are Some Facts
On 4/30/17, Business Insider reported that “Tesla has delayed the roll-out of its solar roof. The company originally said it will begin selling its solar roof in April, but CEO Elon Musk said that two of the four shingle options won’t be made available until early 2018.………….Click here for more

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ERCOT Files Real-Time Co-Optimization Update with PUCT
On 4/27/17, ERCOT filed with the PUCT an update on the stakeholder discussions about a potential implementation of the Real-Time Co-Optimization of Energy and Operating Reserves. ERCOT said that it “plans to submit the initial RTC progress report to the Commission on July 14, 2017, for discussion at the Commission’s Open Meeting, …….…..Click here for more

ENGIE, City of Houston Complete 50-MW Solar Plant
On 4/26/17, Power Engineering reported that “ENGIE announced the company has completed its 50-MW SolaireHolman solar plant in Alpine, Texas, which will now provide 10.5 percent of the power consumed in Houston. The 360-acre project includes 203,840 solar panels, and will provide power to areas across the city including the Hermann Park Zoo, ………Click here for more

Dynegy Looks to Slash Debt after Years of Growth
On 4/25/17, S&P Global reported on the growth of Dynegy, after it had emerged from bankruptcy in 2012. “With a strengthened balance sheet and a generation fleet of about 10,000 MW, Dynegy Inc., has grown into one of the largest independent power producers in the U.S. through several big-ticket acquisitions that have substantially………….Click here for more

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Southern Cross Transmission Files for Route Approval in Mississippi
On 4/26/17, T&D World reported that Southern Cross Transmission “has filed a petition for a siting certificate with the Mississippi Public Service Commission” for its transmission project to deliver Texas renewable power to the Southeast. The petition includes the designation of a preferred route for the Commission’s consideration that…….…..Click here for more

Utilities Answer after Outages Hit California, New York
On 4/26/17, Electric Light & Power reported on the aftermath of last weekend’s outages in California and New York, noting that utilities have thanked “customers for their patience” and explained what caused several major outages in San Francisco and New York City. “Pacific Gas & Electric said the outage affecting 90,000 people Friday………Click here for more

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Overheard at the GCPA 2017 Spring Conference
On 4/24/17, RTO Insider reported on the 2017 Spring Conference of the Gulf Coast Power Association (GCPA), held in Houston last week. In his keynote address, NRG CEO Mauricio Gutierrez stated that “he was concerned about price formation in the ERCOT market, the growth of renewables, and what he called the preference for transmission over market solutions in the planning process. …….…..Click here for more

That Magnificent Uber in Flying Machines
Yes, it may be déjà vu all over again, as some of us reading the latest Uber news recall the 1965 film Those_Magnificent_Men_in_their_Flying_Machines. Except now – according to the Texas Tribune – there will be flying electric cars above Dallas and Fort Worth. “Uber is looking to North Texas as a testing ground for its initiative to make intra-urban flying vehicle rides a reality. The company announced.………Click here for more

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FERC Chair Raises Spectre of Re-regulation; NRG CEO Suggests Market Re-design
The Houston Chronicle recently ran two stories that touched on the “sudden shifts” in the country’s power markets, which could lead some regulators to step in to avoid disruptions. On 4/22/17, HC wrote about Cheryl LaFleur’s speech at the Federalist Society, discussing market changes – from renewables’ growth to nuclear plant closures – and the real possibility that states could re-introduce regulation because they “’aren’t satisfied with the set of resources being selected by the markets,’ LaFleur warned. That is driving concern among free market proponents like LaFleur, who worry that regulators’ attempts to control what types of generation get built will cause uncertainty in the markets.”…….…..Click here for more

CAISO: California Curtailed 80GWh of Renewables in March
On 4/24/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “California ISO is curtailing growing amounts of renewable energy this year, according to Platts: about 80,000MWh in March, up from 47,000MWh in March 2016, as solar energy continues to grow rapidly. There are about 5,000MW of rooftop solar on the California grid.………Click here for more

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NextEra’s CEO Discusses Oncor on Earnings Call
On 4/21/17, SeekingAlpha.com published a transcript of NextEra’s (NEE’s) earnings call, during which CEO Jim Robo also addressed the company’s recent attempt to purchase Oncor: “I would like to say a few words about the Oncor transactions. Oncor has always been an opportunistic transaction that we believe leverages our core strength in operating rate …….…..Click here for more

AWEA: Midwest, Great Plains, and Texas Lead Wind Energy Investment
On 4/21/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “[i]n the last five years, wind power delivered 30% of all new capacity installed in the United States and is now the leading renewable resource, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s annual 2016 report.………Click here for more

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West Texas Nuclear Waste Project on Hold
On 4/19/17, The Texas Tribune reported that “Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists has asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to temporarily suspend a review of its application to store tens of thousands of metric tons of spent nuclear fuel at its West Texas dump.” It seems that the reason for the request is that the. …….…..Click here for more

Storage Companies File FERC Complaint against PJM Regulation Market Rule
On 4/20/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “Energy Storage Association has filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding the PJM Interconnection’s Regulation D rules for frequency regulation.” ………Click here for more

DC Circuit: FERC Must Do Better in Explaining Changes to Transmission Returns
On 4/20/17, UtilityDIVE reported that a “circuit court has directed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to better explain revisions to how it determines return on equity (ROE) for transmission owners, vacating a 2014 order that ………Click here for more

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FERC Chair Outlines Paths for Power Market Reforms ahead of Technical Conference
On 4/19/17, UtilityDIVE reported on the concerns of the acting FERC Chair Cheryl LaFleur that “states may back themselves into an unplanned re-regulation of their power markets,” if there is no negotiated solution to generation subsidy issues. …….…..Click here for more

GCPA: Trump Likely to Shift Power Choices to States, ISOs
On 4/19/17, Platts reported from the spring conference of the Gulf Coast Power Association (GCPA) in Houston, noting that some panelists observed that “[t]he Trump administration is likely to shift more electricity industry authority to states and independent system operators, which may result in some ‘retrenchment’ on market restructuring.” ………Click here for more

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Secretary Perry Asks for Electric Grid Reliability Review; FERC Schedules Technical Conference
On 4/17/17, SNL Energy reported that “U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry has asked for an evaluation of the nation’s electric grid due to what he described as concerns by experts over an ‘erosion of critical baseload resources,’ or always-available power generation capacity supplied largely by fossil fuel plants. In a memorandum to his chief of staff Brian McCormack, Perry asked for…….…..Click here for more

Xcel Starts Building $400 Million New Mexico, Texas Power Line
On 4/18/17, Electric Light & Power reported that “Xcel Energy has started construction on a 345-kV transmission line between Texas and New Mexico to extend its electrical distribution system. Formal ground-breaking ceremonies were scheduled Tuesday near Hobbs, New Mexico, on the $400 million project to eventually connect to a substation north of Abernathy, Texas. ………Click here for more

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NextEra Energy in Talks to Salvage Rejected Deal to Acquire Oncor
In news that is not totally unexpected, The Wall Street Journal reported on 4/17/17, that NextEra is not giving up on Oncor. From the SeekingAlpha.com report, we learned that “NextEra Energy (NEE +0.1%) is in talks aimed at saving its acquisition of the Oncor electricity transmissions businesses, after Texas regulators rejected the deal last week, WSJ reports. Lawyers for both NEE and Energy Future Holdings reportedly said at…..Click here for more

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What’s Next for NRG and Carbon Capture, after Petra Nova?
On 4/14/17, EE News reported on NRG’s possible next steps, now that its Petra Nova carbon capture plant is open. “Now it’s time for NRG to keep gathering information to see how Petra Nova performs, though market conditions and shifting priorities could influence decisions. ‘I would say that two to three years from now.…..Click here for more

NRG Energy Has a Secretive Distributed Energy Optimization Platform
On 4/14/17, GreenTech Media wrote about “a stealthy, in-house analytics effort by NRG [that] will link a 60-megawatt energy efficiency, demand response, and thermal storage deployment for Southern California Edison.” The company is trying to understand what would be “the best combination of distributed resources for every building in Southern California Edison’s 5.2 million customer service territory” and the value to each customer…….Click here for more

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PUCT Rejects $18B NextEra-Oncor Deal
As we reported yesterday, and according to a UtilityDIVE report, “Texas regulators on Thursday rejected NextEra Energy’s $18 billion bid to acquire Oncor Electric, citing concerns about the independence of the utility’s board and the possibility of increased risk for ratepayers. At a meeting of the Public Utilities (sic) Commission of Texas, regulators adopted…..Click here for more

DOE Head Perry, Texas Gov. Abbot Open Carbon Capture System
On 4/13/17, Electric Light & Power reported that “Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined the CEOs of the Petra Nova carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery system partners — NRG Energy, JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp., and Hilcorp Energy — to celebrate the operations of the carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery system. Petra Nova, a 50-50 joint venture by NRG and JX Nippon…….Click here for more

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Dynegy Inadvertently Releases Guidance, Shares Decline
On 4/11/17, SNL Energy reported that Dynegy’s shares fell, after “the generator inadvertently circulated internal calculations” on finances. “Dynegy management on April 11 notified analysts of new adjustments to its internal 2017 and 2018 EBITDA estimates……..Click here for more

The De-Electrification of the U.S. Economy
On 4/12/17, Bloomberg explored an interesting new phenomenon: as the economy keeps growing, electricity use in the U.S. remains below its 2007 level, and seemingly flatlining, and “the change is even more dramatic if you measure on a per-capita basis.”…….Click here for more

Oklahoma Poised to Roll Back Wind Incentives — with Industry’s Support
On 4/12/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “ Oklahoma Senate voted 40-3 this week to roll back state tax credits for wind production, sending the measure to the desk of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who is likely to sign it. The Oklahoman reports ……………..Click here for more

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NYC Comptroller Opposes Barry Smitherman as NRG’s Activist Board Member Nominee
On 4/10/17, SNL Energy reported that the “New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, on behalf of the city’s public pension funds he oversees, urged shareholders to cast proxy votes against the election of Barry Smitherman, a former chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas and the Public Utility Commission of Texas, to NRG’s board of directors during the annual shareholder meeting on April 27. The funds overseen by……..Click here for more

New Bill Could Kill PACE Financing if Approved, Industry Warns
On 4/11/17, GreenTech Media reported that a proposed federal legislation could cripple the growth of PACE (Property-Assessed Clean Energy), just as the concept is starting to take off.” PACE “financing funds building efficiency upgrades and rooftop solar panels through loans that are paid off in tandem with property taxes. The popularity…….Click here for more

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New Mexico, Texas Compete for Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Licenses
On 4/10/17, Electric Light & Power reported that the “race for what to do with spent fuel generated by the nation’s nuclear power plants is heating up, as backers of a plan to build a temporary storage site in New Mexico made the rounds in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in hopes of gaining support for their proposal.” Two years ago………..Click here for more

E.ON Selected for Construction of 196.7-MW Texas Wind Facility
On 4/10/17, Power Engineering reported that “E.ON Energy Services was selected by Copehnahgen Infrastructure Partners to provide construction management and asset management services for the in-development 196.7-MW Bearkat I wind farm in Glasscock County, …….Click here for more

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CenterPoint and Houston Strike Deal on Proposed Gas Rate Increase
On 4/7/17, FuelFix reported that “CenterPoint Energy reached an agreement with several Gulf Coast cities to raise gas distribution rates for the second time in two years for [more] than 1 million customers. But CenterPoint, a Houston-based transmission and distribution monopoly, struck a deal with the cities, including Houston, and the proposed rate increases will not be as high as was initially proposed.………..Click here for more

Austin Energy Marks Five Years of Electric Vehicle Program with Electric Drive Hub
On 4/7/17, Electric Light & Power reported on Austin Energy’s electric transportation hub called Electric Drive, located in downtown Austin. “Electric Drive is a showcase of Austin’s growing electric vehicle infrastructure, and offers proof that Austin has become EV ready. Located along a portion of West 2nd Street in the Seaholm EcoDistrict, Electric Drive is powered entirely by …….Click here for more

Report: FPL Parent Drafted Rooftop Solar Rules Added to Pending Bill
On 4/7/17, UtilityDIVE reported on the Miami Herald’s story that “Florida Power & Light helped write changes to a bill aimed at accelerating the growth of solar in the Sunshine State, proposing restrictions and disclosures some say could have a chilling effect on the growth of the distributed resource. Last year voters in Florida overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to …..Click here for more

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ERCOT: Costs of Multi-Interval Real-Time Market Exceed Benefits
On 4/6/17, ERCOT filed with the PUCT the Summary of Multi-Interval Real-Time Market Feasibility Study. The PUCT had asked ERCOT in mid-2015 to assess what it would take to implement MIRTM and potential costs/benefits. After working on this directive for more than a year, and consulting with stakeholders in 2017, the ISO found that “that the estimated costs are in excess of the measured benefits and, therefore, insufficient to………..Click here for more

ERCOT Makes Progress on Subsynchronous Resonance Issues
Since at least 2013, the PUCT, ERCOT, and stakeholders have been working on issues related to Subsynchronous Resonance (SSR). In Aug. 2013, ERCOT filed Nodal Protocol Revision Request NPRR562, noting that “SSR is a potentially harmful phenomenon, involving coincident oscillation between two or more Transmission Elements or…….Click here for more

Date for RMR Rulemaking Comments Determined
By Denise Stokes

The PUCT has filed with the Texas Register the proposed rule on Reliability Must Run service, which will consequently be published on April 14, 2017. As a result, comments in this rulemaking, Docket No. 46369, are due May 15 and replies are due May 29. 

PUCT Staff Recommends Rule Changes on Transmission Service Rates
By Denise Stokes

The PUCT staff has filed its recommended Proposal for Publication in the Project No. 46393, Rulemaking Proceeding to Repeal and Replace 16 Texas Administrative Code § 25.192, Relating to Transmission Service Rates. The Commission is to consider this at their April 13, 2017 Open Meeting.  The proposed new section retains some existing parts, but defines some terms, and among other things, addresses issues about 4P load in rates, treatment of storage facilities, issues related to rate of return, and cost-of-service issues.  See the proposed rules for other topics covered and more details.

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Southern Company Activates 120-MW Solar Facility in Texas
On 4/5/517, Power Engineering reported that “Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, announced that the 120-MW East Pecos Solar Facility near El Paso, Texas has reached commercial operations. The activation of the 1,000-acre………..Click here for more

CenterPoint Files for Upgrade and New Transmission Lines along Gulf Coast
On 4/5/17, Electric Light & Power reported that CenterPoint Energy submitted a proposal to ERCOT requesting its endorsement for CenterPoint to enhance existing, and construct new, electric transmission infrastructure to “meet the unprecedented load growth of the petrochemical industry in the Freeport, Texas, area.” ……….Click here for more

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Houston’s Solar Power Grows, but Lags behind San Antonio
On 4/4/17, FuelFix reported that Houston’s solar power “is making steady gains, according to report released Tuesday by Environment Texas, an environmental non-profit. Houston increased its solar capacity from 6 megawatts in 2015 to 8 megawatts in 2016. But most of Texas’ non-utility scale solar power is in San Antonio, ………..Click here for more

FPL to Retire 970MW Gas Plant, and Add 1.5 GW of Solar Power
On 4/3/17, SNL Energy reported that Florida Light and Power, NextEra Energy’s “subsidiary announced April 3 that the Lauderdale plant, first built in the 1920s, will by mid-2022 be replaced with a natural-gas fueled clean energy center, according to a news release. The new FPL Dania Beach Clean Energy Center will have …….Click here for more

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ERCOT Set Record Wind Output on Friday
On 4/3/17, Platts reported that on the night of 3/31/17, ERCOT set “a wind-output record of 16,141MW.” ERCOT said that the record was set at 8:56PM, “and wind accounted for about 39.5% of………..Click here for more

Grid Modernization and Power Sector Changes
Two recent articles on changes in the power sector – How California Lawmakers Plan to Align Renewable Generation with Power Demand and The Top Five States in Utility Modernization and Business Model Reform – discuss ongoing developments across the country. In California, a bill has been introduced (AB 1405) to “require an increasing proportion of peak demand electricity to be served by renewable resources like wind and solar.” It is partly modeled on Arizona’s “Clean Peak Standard (CPS), a proposal ……….Click here for more

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Secretary Perry Statement on Nevada, Yucca Visit
On 3/27/17, the Department of Energy published a statement by the Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, after he toured the proposed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. He said that, “The President has requested $120 million in his FY18 budget ………..Click here for more

PJM: Gas Plant Buildout, Coal Retirements Don’t Threaten Reliability
On 3/31/17, UtilityDIVE reported that an “influx of gas-fired generation and the closing of coal-fired plants will not adversely affect reliability in PJM Interconnection’s service area, according to a new report from the RTO. The report did note, however……….Click here for more

Generators and Retail Providers Object to AEP Proposal for Utility-Scale Battery Facilities
AEP Texas North Company (TNC) filed a request for regulatory approvals related to the installation of utility-scale battery facilities on September 16, 2016. The proposal is to install a lithium-ion battery in two locations on its distribution system.  TNC argues that it complies with Texas law and that the facilities will be considered distribution assets whose cost will be eligible for inclusion in TNC’s distribution cost of service.  Furthermore, ……….Click here for more

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PUCT Delineates Deal-breakers in Oncor Acquisition Case
At the 3/30/17 open meeting, the PUCT took up the acquisition of Oncor by NextEra (NEE) for the first time since the February hearing on the merits. In stressing the importance of ring-fencing provisions in this case, including a fully independent Board, the Commissioners outlined their “deal-breakers,” noting that these are the same as NextEra’s………..Click here for more

PUCT Issues Order Adopting Amendment to Emergency Response Rule
The PUCT has adopted an amendment to its rule regarding Emergency Response Service (ERS). The amendment will permit ……….Click here for more

Proposal for Publication Issued in Rulemaking on Reliability Must-Run Service
The PUCT has issued a proposal for amendments to rule relating to pricing safeguards in markets operated by ERCOT. The proposed amendments adjust the notice requirements and complaint timeline applicable to suspension of operation of generation resources, …….Click here for more

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NextEra Energy: Diversified Utility, Dividend Achiever
On 3/29/17, SeekingAlpha wrote about NextEra, noting that it had “recently increased its dividend by 13%. And, the company projects 12%-14% annual dividend growth through 2018. Double-digit dividend increases of this nature are a rarity in the utility sector. NextEra has now increased its dividend for 22 years in a row………..Click here for more

DOE Faces ‘Interesting Times’ as Court Rules on LNG Cases, Including Freeport’s
On 3/28/17, SNL Energy reported that four cases – including Freeport LNG Development LP’s – that are “challenging LNG export orders issued by the U.S. Department of Energy could make for ‘interesting times,’ as a federal appeals court decides whether the agency had done enough to evaluate the far-reaching indirect impacts of increased LNG shipments……….Click here for more

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Texas Twisters Total CPS Transmission Towers
On 3/28/17, T&D World reported that linemen are repairing infrastructure and restoring power after four tornadoes snapped distribution poles in half and mangled transmission structures. Four separate tornadoes obliterated homes, wood poles, and transmission towers. “Winds of more than 100 mph knocked down trees and inflicted damage in the heavily………..Click here for more

PJM Celebrates 20 Years of Operational Competitiveness
On 3/27/17, SNL Energy reported that on 4/1/17, PJM will celebrate “20-year anniversary of operating competitive wholesale electricity markets that maintain grid reliability at the lowest reasonable cost,” according to the RTO press release. “PJM revamped the utility business by launching the first bid-based electricity market on April 1, 1997……….Click here for more

CAISO’s Record: Serving 56.7% of Demand with Renewable Energy in One Day
Margarita Fournier On 3/28/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “California ISO hit an all-time peak percentage, serving 56.7% of demand with renewable energy around 11:19 a.m. on March 23. Solar and wind power, combined, also hit a peak on the same day at 49.2% of demand. In all, renewable sources produced 186GWh, representing 33% of the 563GWh of electricity used on March 23.”

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A Closer Look at Oncor’s Rate Case
On 3/27/17, UtilityDIVE provided additional details about Oncor’s recently filed rate case, noting that it “proposed a $317 million rate hike, or about 7.5%, along with minimum charges for solar customers. If approved, it would bring the utility’s total revenue requirement to approximately $4.5 billion. The rate hike comes at a sensitive time for Oncor: its parent company is mired in ………..Click here for more

Three Potential FERC Nominees Bring Deep Business and Energy Backgrounds
Margarita Fournier On 3/27/17, UtilityDIVE wrote about the ongoing search to fill vacancies on the FERC Board, which currently does not meet because it lacks a quorum. “Three names have been widely mentioned in the media to fill the open positions. All three presumptive nominees all seem to fit well with the president’s agenda of reducing regulation, strengthening the nation’s infrastructure, and providing support for the coal industry.” The article provides a closer look at the three current nominees, noting that they all “have deep experience in energy matters and would bring a balance of perspectives – business, regulatory, and political – to the agency.”

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LP&L’s Integration into ERCOT: New Power Contract and Questions from ERCOT
On 3/23/17, ERCOT filed with the PUCT a letter in Lubbock Power & Light’s integration project, asking questions on what data may be provided to LP&L for required studies. Specifically, ERCOT is seeking approval of a confidentiality agreement that would allow it to share with LP&L certain generator-specific data. The ISO stated.………..Click here for more

LCRA Announces Full Reservoirs
On 3/26/17, the Austin American Statesman published an op-ed piece by LCRA’s Board Chairman Timothy Timmerman, announcing that LCRA’s “wholesale power rate in fiscal year 2017 is 24 percent lower than it was in fiscal year 2015,” and that it has also “identified more than $350 million in expected rate relief over a multi-year period for ………..Click here for more

White House Delay in Acting on Clean Power Plan Is Risky, Expert Says
On 3/24/17, SNL Energy reported on the progress of an expected executive order to repeal the Clean Power Plan. It was expected last month, but so far, no action has taken place and it is starting to affect related litigation. “Judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments on a challenge to the rule………Click here for more

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ERCOT Issues Paper on Distributed Energy Resources
On 3/23/17, ERCOT published a new paper on Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) – Reliability Impacts and Recommended Changes. It states that, in competitive areas, “nearly 900 Megawatts (MW) of Distributed Generation – ranging from large fossil fuel-fired reciprocating units to small rooftop solar systems………..Click here for more

PUCT Staff File Draft Rules on ERS, RMR, and Transmission Rates
For the consideration at the 3/30/17 open meeting, the PUCT staff filed draft rules on Emergency Response Service ………..Click here for more

Holly Power Plant to Be Officially Decommissioned in August
By Margarita Fournier

On 3/21/17, Austin Monitor reported that even as the remnants of the Holly Street Power Plant still stand in East Austin, the “Austin Energy staff assured the Electric Utility Commission at its March 20 meeting that the decommissioning would end in August of this year…. Council voted to retire the plant in 1995, meaning that if decommission ends as planned this year, the process will have taken 22 years. Holly Power Plant was constructed in 16 years, beginning in 1958.”

Moody’s: Falling Wind Energy Costs Threaten Midwestern Coal Plants
By Margarita Fournier

On 3/23/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “declining cost of wind generation has many utilities looking to add it into their ratebase, a trend which could accelerate the demise of some older and less-efficient coal plants. According to new analysis from Moody’s Investor Services, some 56GW of Midwest coal-fired generation is at risk, as wind energy comes online with lower all-in costs. The average cost of wind power in the Great Plains states has fallen to around $20/MWh, according to Moody’s, while coal-fired generation runs at about $30MWh.”

Advanced Nuclear Licensing and Innovation Bill Sent to Senate Floor by Committee
On 3/22/17, SNL Energy reported that a “A Senate committee has approved bipartisan legislation to develop a new regulatory framework for advanced reactors, boost nuclear energy innovation, and reform the U.S. Department of Energy’s management of the national stockpile of excess uranium. The Senate Committee on Environment and ………………..Click here for more

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‘They’re Not Meters or Ratepayers:’ Inside Austin Energy’s Customer-Focused Business Strategy
On 3/22/17, UtilityDIVE provided a more detailed look at Austin Energy, describing how the municipal utility focuses on its customers. “The city of Austin is widely known as a progressive bastion in Texas, and the city’s utility has enacted energy policies to match. Utility officials are focused on boosting renewables, ………………..Click here for more

SPP Bumps into Transmission Constraints as Wind Energy Breaks Records
On 3/22/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “Southwest Power Pool continues to crack records for wind power penetration, reporting it served 54.22% of load with wind energy at 12:55 a.m. on March 19. But the grid operator may be bumping ……..Click here for more

Reliability Hinges on Behind-the-Meter Data, Grid Operator Coalition Says
On 3/22/17, UtilityDIVE reported that a “coalition of nine grid operators has issued a report focused on emerging resources, ultimately concluding that reliability will hinge on how renewable generation is brought online and managed next to growing distributed resources. The nine non-profit Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Organizations are ………Click here for more

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Texas Included in Xcel Energy’s Plan for 3,380MW Wind Energy Investment
On 3/21/17, Electric Light & Power reported that “Xcel Energy plans to make the largest multi-state investment in wind power capacity in the country. The company has proposed 11 new wind farms in seven states, which would add a total of 3,380MW of new wind generation to its system…. Xcel Energy’s multi-state investment in wind expanded today as the company submitted a proposal to add 1,230MW………………..Click here for more

Perry Aide Opens Lobby Firm, Signs Energy Clients
On 3/21/17, EE News reported that “Jeff Miller, who managed Perry’s 2016 presidential campaign, has launched Miller Strategies LLC — and has already signed up a host of clients, including some with business before the Department of Energy, disclosure records show…. Miller has registered to lobby for engineering and design company AECOM;  ………..Click here for more

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ERCOT: Wind Energy to Play Bigger Role in Texas Grid Supply this Summer
On 3/20/17, UtilityDIVE highlighted ERCOT’s recent press release on resource adequacy for the upcoming spring and summer, which stated that the ISO will have “more than 82,000MW of generation resources available to serve the expected peak demand of approximately 58,000MW during the mild shoulder season.”………………..Click here for more

Energy Storage Is America’s Industry to Lose
On 3/20/17, EE News reported that “a growing number of experts believe that energy storage will be worth tens of billions of dollars in revenue within a decade, regardless of what the Trump administration does to harm or help. Batteries will start showing up everywhere, sending shock waves through the auto industry, the electric grid………..Click here for more

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Oncor Files New Rate Case, Seeks Rate Increase
On 3/17/17, as expected, Oncor filed its rate case in PUC Docket No. 46957, Application of Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC for Authority to Change Rates. Asserting that it had made significant investments in new transmission facilities, the company claims that it is not recovering its full costs and seeks an additional $317 million – or a 7.5% increase for transmission and distribution rates. Oncor’s last rate case was filed several years ago, ……………..Click here for more

South Australian Utility Deploying ‘World’s Largest’ Virtual Power Plant
On 3/17/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “Australian electric utility AGL has brought online what it says is the world’s largest residential virtual power plant. AGL has so far installed batteries in over 60 homes in suburban Adelaide, South Australia,………..Click here for more

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NERC Signs MOU with Mexico’s Comisión Reguladora de Energía
On 3/15/17, T&D World reported that “[a] memorandum of understanding has been signed by the North American Electric Reliability Corp., the Comisión Reguladora de Energía (CRE), and the Centro Nacional de Control de Energía (CENACE). The agreement outlines a framework for a cooperative relationship between Mexico and NERC, ……………..Click here for more

Trump Proposes Restarting Yucca Mountain Licensing in Fiscal 2018
On 3/16/17, Platts reported that “President Donald Trump unveiled Thursday a budget proposal for fiscal 2018 Thursday that would provide the US Department of Energy $120 million for the management of utility spent nuclear fuel, including restarting DOE’s licensing activities associated with the high-level nuclear waste repository proposed………..Click here for more

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Texas Sues Feds – and Rick Perry – for Failing to License Nuclear Waste Facility
On 3/15/17, The Texas Tribune reported that Texas is taking “the federal government to task for failing to find a permanent disposal site for thousands of metric tons of radioactive waste piling up at nuclear reactor sites across the country.” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit ………………..Click here for more

S&P Expects Continued Struggles for ERCOT and Texas Generators
On 3/15/17, Electric Light & Power highlighted a 3/13/17 report, released by S&P Global Ratings, which confirmed “the weakening conditions in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the power market that covers much of the power generation in the state. S&P first reported on ERCOT’s ……..Click here for more

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Overheard at the Infocast ERCOT Market Summit 2017
On 3/13/17, RTO Insider reported on the recent Infocast conference in Austin, which “gathered industry experts in the Texas state capital to share their insights on the ‘challenging times that lie ahead for ERCOT.’ Panelists examined changing market rules, the impact of gas prices on generators, how the delivery of new wind and solar power will change ………………..Click here for more

PJM Market Monitor: State Plant Subsidies Threaten Power Markets Foundations
On 3/14/17, UtilityDIVE reported that, according to the most recent State of the Market Report from Monitoring Analytics, PJM’s market monitor, the “PJM Interconnection’s wholesale energy and capacity markets are competitive, but face a growing threat from of out-of-market solutions and subsidies such as zero-emission credits (ZECs).” ……..Click here for more

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Survey: Utility Cyber-Security Falling Short of Technology Changes
EY’s 19th Global Information Security Survey 2016-17 results are out and it seems we are not meeting the challenges to insure cyber-security.  Entitled Path to cyber resilience: Sense, resist, react, the report summarizes the findings from a survey of 1,735 corporate leaders and IT executives/managers from many of the world’s largest global companies, not just utilities.  The results, however, are applicable to the utility grid in general.  The survey showed that ………………..Click here for more

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Intervenors File Post-Hearing Briefs in Oncor Acquisition Case
On 3/10/17, a number of parties to NextEra’s Oncor acquisition case filed initial briefs, as requested by the PUCT after the February hearing on the merits (Docket No. 46238). In addition to NextEra and Oncor, eight intervenors submitted briefs, with most repeating their objections to the transaction as currently proposed by NextEra. The PUCT staff recommended finding that the transaction is in the public interest only if ………………..Click here for more

Moody’s: Renewable Demand Driven by Corporate Buyers, Not State Mandates
On 3/10/17, SNL Energy reported that “[c]orporate procurement has replaced state renewable energy mandates as among the main drivers of near-term renewable energy demand, according to a report by Moody’s. The ratings agency on March 10 highlighted the proliferation of corporate power purchase agreements, or PPAs, community choice aggregation in………Click here for more

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Report: Trump to Nominate McIntyre, Chatterjee to FERC
On 3/9/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “President Trump is expected to nominate energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre and longtime Senate aide Neil Chatterjee to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Bloomberg reports ………………..Click here for more

CERAWeek: Utility CEOs Say Merchant Generators Need ‘Fair Compensation’
On 3/9/17, Platts reported on the CERAWeek conference taking place in Houston, and highlighting that “[t]hree power utility CEOs said Thursday that as their firms turn increasingly toward modernization of the grid and, to varying degrees,……..Click here for more

The Clean Power Plan Is Gone — and There’s No ‘Replace’
On 3/9/17, EE News reported that the “White House intends to unravel the Clean Power Plan without providing a replacement, according to a source briefed on the issue. An executive order expected to be released next week also instructs the Justice Department to effectively withdraw its legal defense of the climate rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals……..Click here for more

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Power Market Upheavals Prompt States, Feds to Take Action
On 3/8/17, UtilityDIVE reported on the “strange  things” that are happening in the power markets. One can see it “in New York, where existing, carbon-free nuclear generation needs help from the state to keep running. In Ohio, where generators are selling coal plants after failing to win financial support. And in Texas, the nation’s largest organized market, where even combined-cycle gas plants have come under pressure.” ………………..Click here for more

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Opinion: Why We Need Microgrids With Storage In ERCOT
As renewables such as wind and solar continue to grow in ERCOT, there is an ever increasing mismatch between the production of renewable energy and the consumption of energy.  In the not too distant future ERCOT total system wind production will exceed the demand during some light load periods.  Storage could be used to capture the excess wind and make it available at other hours.  When ERCOT has a significant amount of solar, such as 20,000 MW, there will begin to be too much solar power produced at times.  Storage could be used to move the excess solar energy to night time and cloudy days………………..Click here for more

SPS, SPP Ask Texas to Rule on Transmission Competition
On 3/2/17, RTO Insider reported that Southwestern Public Service (SPS) and Southwestern Power Pool (SPP) have asked the PUCT to rule on whether Texas law includes a right of first refusal (ROFR) that overrides FERC Order No. 1000 (Docket No. 46901). “At issue is………Click here for more

Power Policy Reforms Take Backseat in Congress
On 3/6/17, SNL Energy reported that “[l]awmakers want to conduct more oversight of the Federal Power Act and the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, but those reviews — and potential reforms to the laws — are taking a backseat to other legislative priorities. Congress has paid more attention to the FPA lately,.……….Click here for more

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FERC to Discuss Wholesale Energy and Capacity Markets
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. The notice stated that “[i]n recent years, there has been increased interest………Click here for more

A Guide to the Debate over Closing Nuclear Plants
On 3/6/17, GreenTech Media published a look at the debate over the closing of nuclear plants, noting a renewed support for such plants by certain legislators in spite of market changes. “Wholesale electricity prices are at historic lows, threatening the underlying economics and fate of America’s existing nuclear fleet, just as many facilities are up for re-licensing……….Click here for more

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Moody’s: NextEra’s Need for $20B in Long-Term Capital a Challenge, but Doable
On 3/3/17, SNL Energy reported that “Moody’s expects that NextEra Energy Inc. will be able to raise the $20 billion in long-term capital it needs to finance its proposed acquisition of Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC and other energy development projects, but it says the process ‘will be challenging and poses financing risk.’” On 3/1/7, Moody’s “suggested that ………Click here for more

Reports: Trump to Issue Order Rolling Back Clean Power Plan
On 3/2/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “President Trump is expected to issue orders next week that will begin the process of striking the Clean Power Plan and ending a moratorium on new coal mining on federal lands. The move to roll back the Obama administration’s signature climate initiative has been……….Click here for more

Kemper County and the Perils of Clean Coal Technology
On 2/28/17, IEEE Spectrum wrote about the challenges inherent in the clean coal technology, noting that the Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi shows “both the promise and the peril that the technology has to offer.” “Kemper is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over the $2.2-billion cost estimate given in 2010 when construction began. And a recent financial analysis paints a dim picture of the plant’s potential for profit. ………………Click here for more

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Senate Confirms Rick Perry to Lead Department of Energy
On 3/2/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “U.S. Senate has confirmed former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to head the Department of Energy, where he will oversee the nation’s nuclear weapons program as well as research into clean energy and other advanced technologies. Perry’s nomination was approved 62-37, with nine Democrats………Click here for more

CPS Energy Battles Texas Twisters
On 3/1/17, T&D World reported on the devastation caused by the recent tornadoes in the San Antonio area, as several different storm lines intersected outside the city, “sparking five separate tornadoes. They obliterated homes, wood poles, and transmission towers. Hundred-plus mph winds knocked down trees and inflicted damage in the heavily developed north and northeast side of San Antonio. CPS Energy crews quickly responded to………….
Click here for more

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NRG CEO: Independent Power Producer Model ‘Obsolete’
On 3/1/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “NRG Energy lost almost $900 million last year, the result of lower power and gas prices along with a hefty ‘goodwill impairment charge.’ But despite the loss, the big news from the power producer’s earnings came from a comment made to journalists and financial analysts: Mauricio Gutierrez………Click here for more

Rate Hikes and Customer Growth Bring Profits to CenterPoint
On 3/1/17, FuelFix reported on earnings of CenterPoint, noting that “[r]ate increases and customer growth helped turn a profit last year for CenterPoint Energy, the monopoly electricity transmission and distribution company that serves the Houston area. On Tuesday, the company reported a full year net income of $432 million, or $1 per share, compared to a loss of $692 million, or $1.61 per share, in 2015. Earnings for the fourth………….Click here for more

Tables Are Turned as State AGs Set their Sights on Pruitt
On 3/1/17, EE News wrote that “Scott Pruitt, who sued U.S. EPA more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s chief legal officer, will likely soon find himself on the other side of lawsuits filed by Democratic attorneys general.” They are opposed to Pruitt’s efforts to undo environmental regulations, and are preparing to sue the EPA. Also, “[e]nvironmentalists say ………Click here for more

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Senate Poised to Confirm Trump Picks for Energy, Interior this Week
On 2/28/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “U.S. Senate will soon vote on Rep. Ryan Zinke’s (R-MT) nomination to lead the Department of Interior, after lawmakers voted 67-31 to limit debate. Senators are also expected to vote on the nomination of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy. While Democrats have delayed ………Click here for more

NRG Cuts Losses, but Depressed Power Prices Weigh on Revenue
On 2/28/17, FuelFix reported that “Houston-based NRG Energy narrowed its losses in 2016, but low natural gas and power prices pushed down revenue. On Tuesday, the company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.1 billion, compared with a loss of $6.4 billion during the fourth quarter of 2015. For the full year, the company lost $891 million………….Click here for more

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ERCOT Terminates NRG’s RMR Contract
When last May, ERCOT announced that it had signed a Reliability Must Run (RMR) agreement with NRG for its Greens Bayou Unit 5, there was much disquiet in the market about the expensive, two-year contract. Subsequently, stakeholders and ERCOT staff spent many hours, working on ways to shorten the contract and/or to avoid future RMR situations. And now, on 2/27/17, ERCOT issued a market notice – W-A032916-05 Operations – announcing the termination of the contract with NRG by 5/29/17. ………Click here for more

PUCT Staff: NextEra-Oncor Deal Needs More Consumer Protections
On 2/27/17, UtilityDIVE highlighted a filing the PUCT staff made on 2/13/17, in the NextEra’s case to acquire Oncor. The staff’s Statement of Position, filed in Docket No. 46238, shows that they “believe additional consumer protections need to be put in place before regulators sign off on NextEra’s plan to purchase Oncor Electric Delivery Co., the largest utility in the state. NextEra Energy has significant merchant generation, which staff said ………….Click here for more

Reports: Trump Budget Proposal Would Slash EPA Funding
On 2/27/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “President Trump is expected to send preliminary budget proposals to federal agencies on Monday, and the plans reportedly include deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. Multiple media outlets report the budget proposal will include “transformational” cuts …………Click here for more

Wind, Solar Dominate Additions to Power Grid in 2016
On 2/27/17, FuelFix reported that a “majority of the additions to the U.S. electricity grid in 2016 were utility-scale wind farms and solar farms, according to U.S. Department of Energy analysis. While natural gas and coal still account for most of the country’s energy use, wind, and solar have outpaced both in their spread and growth. Last year, more than 60 percent ……..Click her for more

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Dynegy Digs into Debt Reduction with Likely Asset Sales
On 2/24/17, SNL Energy reported that “Dynegy Inc. management on Feb. 24 highlighted several asset sales that it is considering, including combined-cycle gas-fired units in the PJM Interconnection and ISO New England markets, and an additional peaker ………Click here for more

MISO Approves Indiana Utility’s Proposal to Shutter Coal Plant Unit
On 2/24/17, UtilityDIVE reported that MISO “has approved an Indiana utility’s plan to shutter two coal-fired units next year, taking 480MW of fossil fuel generation offline as the region transforms its resource mix, Platts reports. Northern Indiana Public Service Co last year filed an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) calling for closure of four coal units in the next seven years …………….Click here for more

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NextEra CEO’s Appearance Aims to Reassure PUCT Commissioners
On 2/23/17, NextEra’s Chairman and CEO James L. Robo appeared before the PUCT, during the afternoon session of the four-day hearing on the merits. Before he came, parties discussed whether he’d be sworn in as a witness; in the end, the Commission opted to announce an emergency open meeting instead. The CEO provided many assurances.………Click here for more

Dynegy Reports Losses as It Shuts down Coal-fired Power Plants
On 2/23/17, Dynegy said that the “shutdown of two coal-fired power plants and the bankruptcy of a subsidiary contributed to losses last year,” according to FuelFix “Dynegy said it lost $180 million in the fourth quarter, compared to a $134 million loss during the same period in 2015. For all of 2016, the company reported a loss of $1.24 billion, compared to a profit of $50 million 2015.” Most losses were attributed to the December bankruptcy filing …………….Click here for more

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NextEra Still Faces Skepticism over Oncor Acquisition
This Thursday is the third – and possibly last – day of the PUCT hearing on the merits in NextEra’s case to acquire Oncor (Docket No. 46238, Application of Oncor Electric Delivery Company and NextEra Energy, Inc., for Regulatory Approvals Pursuant to PURA §§ 14.101, 37.154, 39.262 (1)-(m), and 39.91). But, as RTO Insider wrote on 2/22/17, PUCT approval of the transaction “is no slam dunk.” “PUC commissioners peppered Oncor CEO Bob Shapard with questions about whether his regulated Texas utility would really be able to.………Click here for more

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Pruitt’s Pitch to Staff: Give Me a Chance
On 2/21/17, EE News wrote about the new administrator of the EPA Scott Pruitt’s meeting with “the skeptical EPA staff.” “In his first speech to the agency since his swearing in as EPA administrator Friday, Pruitt stressed his respect for the agency’s career staff. He hinted broadly at big changes that are expected to come to the agency under.………Click here for more

Coal Plants Keep Closing on Trump’s Watch
On 2/21/17, EE News reported on the upcoming closing of the Bailly Generating Station, a coal plant in northwest Indiana. “Bailly’s closure was announced one week before Donald Trump bested Hillary Clinton in the presidential contest. But while Trump and his congressional allies pursue a rollback of Obama-era environmental regulations in Washington, coal plants continue to close at a rapid clip across the country.”………Click here for more

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House Energy Chair Lays out Agenda in NARUC Address
On 2/19/17, RTO Insider reported that U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, spoke at the winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). He said that the Committee “will hew close to traditional party positions, emphasizing the importance of letting states and market forces guide development rather than policies and regulations.” He added that the Committee “will review ………Click here for more

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Down-sized Tres Amigas Project Leaves out ERCOT
Last week, we noted that the Tres Amigas project has been down-sized, and will have a much smaller cost at only $200 million. On 2/17/17, UtilityDIVE reported that this will mean that the project, which originally planned to link three U.S. interconnections, will only connect two: “Tres Amigas Chief Financial Officer Russ Stidolph told E&E News that the project is still alive,but shortened. It will now connect………Click here for more

BP Wind May Upgrade Its U.S. Wind Turbines
On 2/16/17, Power Engineering reported that, according to Bloomberg, BP Wind Energy is evaluating whether to update as many as 200 of its wind turbines in U.S. facilities with higher-capacity equipment. If the move is approved, it would add 400MW of capacity to BP’s wind facilities… Laura Folse, CEO of BP Wind Energy….Click here for more

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Barry Smitherman on NRG Board Means FERC Position Is Out?
On 2/16/17, UtilityDIVE speculated that had Barry Smitherman really been considered for the FERC chairmanship, he would not have joined NRG Energy’s Board. “Smitherman was appointed to the Public Utilities (sic) Commission of Texas by then-Gov. Rick Perry, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Energy, and was reported to be………Click here for more

Tres Amigas Project Scaled Down
On 2/16/17, Electric Light & Power reported that the company which once planned the Tres Amigas project – a $1.5 billion effort in New Mexico to link three major U.S. electricity grid systems and pump more renewable energy to more populated markets – said on Wednesday “that it has scaled down the plan to one that would cost about $200 million.” “The Tres Amigas transmission infrastructure development company provided…….Click here for more

Entergy Predicts Lower Earnings, Small Impact from Tax Reform, and Plant Closings
On 2/15/17, SNL Energy wrote about the possible impact of tax reform on some utilities, including Entergy. “Entergy Corp. management predicts a cut in the federal income tax rate would reduce earnings at the parent level, but there would be minimal cash impact given the company’s net operating loss tax position. U.S. House Republicans and the Trump administration have signaled plans to take up broad tax reform this year,……Click here for more

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PUCT Commissioner Presses MISO Representatives for Cost Information
On 2/14/17, RTO Insider reported that at the winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the PUCT “Commissioner Ken Anderson and other state regulators sharply questioned MISO officials Monday over its refusal to share with them raw cost data on transmission projects.” The exchange took place………Click here for more

PUCT Staff to Hold Smart Meter Data Workshop
By Margarita Fournier

On 2/115/17, the PUCT staff filed a notice, announcing a new date for a workshop in Project No. 46204, Rulemaking Regarding Third-Party Authorization to Access Smart Meter Texas Data. It will be held on 4/25/17, in Austin. The staff are also requesting comments, with new due dates to be posted soon. Comments may be submitted on questions about the end-use customer authorization process, third-party functionalities, compliance standards, and Commission jurisdiction.

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NRG Review May Include GenOn and Yieldco Stake Sale, Bulk Cost-Cutting
On 2/13/17, SNL Energy reported that “[c]ost cutting and the sale of its NRG Yield Inc. and GenOn Energy Inc. holdings are likely items to be explored in a strategic review undertaken by NRG Energy Inc. and a pair of newly appointed board members representing the interests of Elliott Management Corp. and Bluescape Energy Partners LLC. Less than a month after the Elliott-Bluescape group made its ………Click here for more

FERC’s LaFleur on Unique Abilities of Energy Storage
On 2/15/17, GreenTech Media reported on FERC’s efforts to incorporate more fully energy storage into the US wholesale markets. “These actions reflect the fact there’s an exponential amount of energy storage slated to come online, and its ‘unique abilities to help in different ways,’ said Acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur, speaking this week at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ winter meeting.……….Click here for more

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SPP Sets Record 52.1% Wind Penetration Sunday
On 2/13/17, Platts reported that the “Southwest Power Pool in the US set a new wind penetration record of 52.1% early Sunday morning, it said, which it believes is the first time a North American RTO served more than 50% of its load at a given time with wind energy. SPP said that the record was set at 5:30 am EST Sunday (1030 GMT).………Click here for more

Department Innovation: Rechargeable Batteries and Cooling Roofs
On 2/9/17, Phys.org wrote that “[r]esearchers have developed a type of rechargeable battery called a flow cell that can be recharged with a water-based solution containing dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from fossil fuel power plants. The device works by taking advantage of the CO2 concentration difference ……….Click here for more

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UT Concludes Successful Energy Week Conference
Last week, University of Texas’ Energy Institute held its annual UT Energy Week. Attended by nearly 1,000 people in 2016, this year’s conference consisted of a series “of events sponsored by numerous academic departments and student organizations across campus…. In addition to the main UT Energy Week sessions held Tuesday through Friday, there were several affiliated events taking place………Click here for more

Texas Helps Wind Power Surpass Hydro as Top Source of Renewable Energy
On 2/10/17, Electric Light & Power reported that “American wind power just achieved its second strongest quarter ever for newly installed energy generating capacity according to a new report released today by the American Wind Energy Association. Wind power surpassed hydropower dams to become the largest source of renewable electric capacity in the U.S., and the fourth largest overall.……….Click here for more

FERC Lifts Restrictions in Federal, State Demand Response Markets

On 2/10/17, UtilityDIVE reported that FERC “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 …….Click here for more

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Winter in ERCOT: Coal Loses Share to Natural Gas, Wind, and Nukes
On 2/9/17, Platts reported that “[w]ind, nuclear and natural gas-fired generators increased their shares of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas generation mix at the expense of coal plants in January, a report issued Thursday shows. Relatively lighter loads and lower natural gas prices may account for the change in fuel mix. ERCOT’s latest Demand and Energy Report shows ………Click here for more

House Speaker Straus Announces Committee Chairs
On 2/9/17, The Texas Tribune reported that Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has announced the new committee Chairs, including Drew Darby for Energy Resources Committee, Lyle Larson for Natural Resources, and Byron Cook for State Affairs. In addition to ……….Click here for more

Dynegy Completes $3.3B Acquisition of Engie Power Plants
On 2/9/17, UtilityDIVE wrote that “Dynegy announced it has completed the acquisition of Engie’s U.S.-based power plants for $3.3 billion, just six days after federal regulators signed off on the transaction. The portfolio of generation consists of 9,017MW,.……….Click here for more

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PUCT Commissioner Sides with Co-ops against City
For the 2/9/17 open meeting, Commissioner Anderson filed a memo, detailing his position in a case pitting two Texas electric co-ops – Brazos and Co-Serv – and the city of The Colony. The main issue in Docket No. 45175, Appeal of Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, Inc., and Denton County Electric Cooperative, Inc., d/b/a CoServ Electric, from an Ordinance of The Colony, Texas, and, in the Alternative, Application for a Declaratory Order, is whether the municipality has the right to prohibit the building of a new substation, as proposed by the two co-ops. The co-ops argue that the city’s ordinance ………Click here for more

Partial Summary Decision on Current Utilities Docket
On 2/8/17 the administrative law judge (ALJ) in PUCT Docket No. 45621, Notice of Violation by Current Utilities, Inc. of PURA § 39.353(A) and 16 TAC § 25.111(d)(1) Relating to Registration of Aggregators filed Order No. 8, Interim Order Granting Partial Summary Decision.  It states, in part, “the ALJ concludes that the evidence indisputably establishes that Current served as……….Click here for more

CPS Energy Is Harnessing 100MW of DSM with Smart Thermostats
On 2/8/17, UtilityDIVE reported on the efforts of CPS Energy to expand its 14-year, residential thermostat demand response program. “’We thought we’d reached saturation,’ said Justin Chamberlain, demand response program manager for CPS. Getting new customers on board with the utility’s direct installation offer was becoming more difficult – but the program.……….Click here for more

Oklahoma Governor Proposes New Wind Energy Tax
On 2/8/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) released a proposed executive budget this week that included a $0.005/kWh tax on wind generation and called for the early phase-out of incentives she says are no longer necessary.………..Click here for more

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Barry Smitherman in Running to Chair FERC
On 2/7/17, FuelFix reported that the former PUCT and RRC Chair Barry Smitherman is under consideration to be the next FERC Chair. He has apparently “met with President Donald Trump’s transition team ahead of the presidential inauguration last month about taking over the agency, according to a source close to the talks ………Click here for more

New York Pushes ahead with Dispatchable DERs, as Texas’ Path Unclear
On 2/6/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “New York ISO last week released an outline of how it expects distributed energy resources (DERs) to integrate into wholesale markets, a goal central to the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative. But the grid operator expects to spend three to five years developing market design elements, functional requirements, and tariff language. The Distributed Energy Resource Roadmap also announced……….Click here for more

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SPP and ERCOT File Lubbock Integration Study Update
On 2/2/17, Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and ERCOT filed an update on the study they are developing in Project No. 45633, Project to Identify Issues Pertaining to Lubbock Power & Light’s Proposal to Become Part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Both ISOs have completed the draft of the study scope, which “will be used in their respective studies to evaluate the costs and benefits of a potential transition of Lubbock Power & Light (LP&L) to the ERCOT Region..………Click here for more

Position Limits, Automated Trading Rules Likely Delayed by Months
On 2/4/17, SNL Energy reported on the progress of certain trading rules, observing that some “of the biggest ‘game-changing’ rules still pending before the Commodity Futures Trading Commission could be delayed by many more months as the agency drops to just two commissioners and awaits nominations ……….Click here for more

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Report: NRG Hires Advisor to Evaluate Potential Sale
On 2/3/17, SNL Energy reported that “NRG Energy Inc. has reportedly hired an adviser to evaluate a potential sale of the independent power producer for $25 a share, according to a Feb. 3 CNBC report also picked up by Bloomberg. During a broadcast on the financial news network around 1:20pm EST on Feb. 3, CNBC contributor Jon Najarian suggested that.………Click here for more

FERC Approves Dynegy’s $3.3B Acquisition of Engie Power Plants
On 2/3/17, UtilityDIVE reported that FERC “has approved Dynegy’s $3.3 billion acquisition of almost 9,000MW of generation owned by Engie, likely setting the deal up for a quick closing next week. FERC conditionally approved the deal about a month ago, after concluding there would be ……….Click here for more

NRG Energy to power Super Bowl with renewable energy
On 2/3/17, Electric Light and Power wrote about how NRG Energy and Reliant “have teamed up with the NFL to provide 100 percent Green-e certified renewable energy to NRG Stadium, site of Super Bowl LI, and the George R. Brown Convention Center, location of the NFL Experience and other NFL celebrations in Houston……..…Click here for more

PUCT Draft Rule on Emergency Response Service Issued
On 2/2/17 the PUCT staff issued a draft Proposal for Adoption in Project No. 45927, Rulemaking Regarding Emergency Response Service. The proposed amendments to P.U.C. Subst. R. § 25.507 “will permit ERCOT to deploy Emergency Response Service (ERS) to forestall firm load shed in the event of local transmission emergencies, and will provide………Click here for more

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Austin Energy again a Target at the Legislature
On 2/2/17, Austin American Statesman reported on four bills, filed by State Rep. Paul Workman, a long-time critic of the local utility. The bills – relating to the utility’s electric rates, downsizing its service area, capping payments to Austin’s city government, and overhauling its governance – “come less than a year after the Austin City Council approved a $42.5 million rate cut in a deal reached by the utility,.………Click here for more

PUCT to Consider Finalized Rules
On 2/2/17, the PUCT staff filed several proposed rules for consideration at the 2/9/17 open meeting. In Project No. 45625, a Proposal for Adoption was drafted “for the limited purpose of allowing a Retail Electric Provider (REP) or aggregator to use a portable electronic device (PED) during customer enrollments via door-to-door sales……….Click here for more

FERC’s Bay: Transition Team Knew I Would Leave; Chair Swap Got Lost in the Mail
On 2/1/17, SNL Energy reported on an interview with the former FERC Chair Norman Bay, who said that “he told President Donald Trump’s transition team that he would probably leave if he was replaced as the commission’s leader, and when the news did come that Cheryl LaFleur ……..…Click here for more

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ERCOT Makes Progress on Sub-Synchronous Issues
On 2/1/17, ERCOT filed an update to the PUCT “on the progress made in the review of Subsynchronous Resonance (SSR) in the ERCOT Region.” The ISO stated that it “has been working with certain Transmission Service Providers (TSPs) and Resource Entities to complete detailed unit-specific studies to inform.………Click here for more

Denton Signs PPA with Invenergy
On 2/1/17, North American WindPower reported that Denton’s utility had signed a purchase power agreement (PPA) with Invenergy for the output of its Santa Rita wind farm, with power to start flowing on 1/1/19. “According to Invenergy, this deal is the first power agreement adopted as part of the city’s Renewable Denton Plan (RDP), ……….Click here for more

Mexico, U.S. Sign Document to Promote Reliability of Interconnected Grids
On 2/1/17, T&D World reported that the “U.S. Secretary of Energy and Mexico’s Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquin Coldwell have signed a non-binding foundational document that will support a continued effort by both countries to assure reliability of the increasingly interconnected American and Mexican electricity grids……..…Click here for more

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Senate Panel Approves Trump Interior, Energy Picks
On 1/31/17, Platts reported that the “Senate Energy Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday approved the nominations of Ryan Zinke to head the Interior Department and Rick Perry to head the Energy Department, setting up likely approvals by the full Senate as soon as this week.” The article offers background information on both nominees, including that Perry is………Click here for more

ERCOT TAC Endorses Forward-pricing Methodology
On 1/30, RTO Insider wrote about the 1/26/17 meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting, at which members “endorsed a protocol change that incorporates futures prices to estimate forward risk, a change that the ISO says could reduce market-wide collateral requirements by $30 million to $70 million, depending on……….Click here for more

Storing Solar Power Increases Energy Consumption and Emissions, Study Finds
On 1/30/17, The University of Texas posted a press release about a paper UT researchers published in Nature Energy, which “assessed the trade-offs of adding home energy storage to households with existing solar panels, shedding light on the benefits and drawbacks of adding storage considering today’s full energy grid mix. ”‘The good news is that storage……..…Click here for more

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Texas Was Nation’s Top Electricity User in 2015
On 1/30/17, FuelFix highlighted a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on energy use for 2015, which showed that Texas had the highest consumption numbers. “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………Click here for more

Capacity for Nat-Gas-Generated Electricity Expected to Rise
On 1/30/17, FuelFix reported that the “use of natural gas to generate electricity continues to grow, while the use of coal declines, as it has over the past five years, according to the Energy Department. Low natural gas prices in 2016 and federal environmental regulations meant to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants have driven the country’s shift to……….Click here for more

Latest from FERC
By Margarita Fournier

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been in the news recently, particularly with the resignation of its former Chair Norman Bay and the possibility of delays in its decisions because of a lack of quorum. On 1/30/17, FERC posted an  interview with the Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur. On 1/27/17, she made a statement on the FERC quorum. The same day, the Commission posted a news release on FERC’s Regulatory Freeze memorandum. And, finally, the agency also provided Norman Bay Resignation Letter.

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Texas Co-op Group Forms Partnership with Advanced Microgrid Solutions
On 1/27/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “Texas Electric Cooperatives (TEC), an association representing 75 electric cooperatives throughout the Lone Star state, has formed a partnership with Advanced Microgrid Solutions. Under the agreement, ………Click here for more

 NextEra Seeks to Vet NRG’s Interests in Potential Oncor Deal
On 1/27/17, FuelFix reported on a document NextEra (NEE) filed in its Oncor acquisition case (PUC Docket No. 46238) on 1/23/17. In its first Request for Information (RFI) to NRG Energy, NEE asked NRG to answer four questions – all related to potential NRG’s competitive interests in Texas that may be served if the Commission requires divestiture of NextEra Energy’s competitive affiliates, in case……….Click here for more

Bay’s Resignation Could Have Significant Impact
On 1/27/17, FuelFix looked in greater detail about the possible consequences of former FERC Chairman Norman Bay’s resignation. One would be bringing “federal decisions on multi-billion-dollar natural gas pipelines to a halt.” “Among the pipelines waiting for approval are: Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Rover project; the PennEast shale line..……….Click here for more

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Sen. Cornyn Bill to Protect Military Airspace from Wind Turbine Radar Interference
On 1/25/17, US Senator Cornyn introduced “a bill to protect military airfields from electromagnetic radar interference caused by nearby wind turbines. Crafted with input from military leaders and pilots in Texas, the Protection of Military Airfields from Wind Turbine Encroachment Act would discourage.………Click here for more

FERC and NRC Have New Chairmen, Bay Resigns On 1/26/17, Platts reported that FERC Chairman Norman Bay would resign on 2/3/17, after President Trump nominated Cheryl LaFleur as the new chair. “When Bay leaves in a week, FERC will be down to two sitting commissioners,” including Commissioner Colette Honorable, but three are needed for a quorum. “FERC will be unable to act on significant orders, rules and policy pronouncements, but some routine business could……….Click here for more

Ebell Proposes Slashing EPA Staff to Nixon-era Levels
On 1/26/17, EE News reported the “leader of President Trump’s U.S. EPA transition team wants to see the agency’s 15,000-person staff axed to about.……….Click here for more

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Trump Infrastructure Priority Plan Includes Transmission, Wind, Energy Storage
On 1/25/17, UtilityDIVE reported that a “50-item list of infrastructure priorities compiled by the Trump administration and released by McClatchy and the Kansas City Star includes provisions for transmission expansion, wind and energy storage, among other power sector projects. It is not clear if the $137 billion wish list is a draft or final version………Click here for more

EPA Contract Freeze, Media Blackout Leave States Confused
On 1/25/17, Electric Light & Power reported a “Trump administration freeze on new Environmental Protection Agency contracts and grant awards raised fears that states and other recipients could lose essential funding for drinking water protection, hazardous waste oversight and a host of other programs — while a communications blackout left them dangling in uncertainty.……….Click here for more

On Voluntary Remand, FERC to Look at Energy Crisis Refund Cost Offsets
On 1/24/17, SNL Energy reported on a case at FERC, related to actions of  Shell Energy North America (US) LP, formerly Coral Power LLC, and Hafslund Energy Trading LLC. At issue is whether the “two energy suppliers are seeking to offset their Western energy crisis of 2000-2001 refund obligations with costs related to fraudulent transactions, the agency said in a Jan. 23 order.” A FERC judge has scheduled……….Click here for more

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Senate Postpones Votes on Trump Nominees Perry, Zinke
On 1/24/17, UtilityDIVE wrote that the “Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has indefinitely suspended confirmation votes on Donald Trump’s nominees to lead the Department of Energy and Department of Interior, The Hill reports. The committee on Monday said the votes would be delayed ………Click here for more

Reports: Trump to Name LaFleur to Head FERC
In other “nomination” news, UtilityDIVE reported on 1/24/17, that “President Donald Trump is expected to nominate Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to media reports, replacing current Chairman Norman Bay. While all current FERC members are Democrats, Bloomberg reports LaFleur is seen as ……….Click here for more

MISO to Face Change, Extent Unknown: CEO
On 1/24/17, Platts reported on the discussions about upcoming changes at MISO, which recognized that the magnitude or speed of change are yet unknown. “During MISO’s Informational Forum, John Bear, MISO president and CEO, described how drastically MISO’s generation fleet has changed over the past 11 years, ……….Click here for more

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Barry Smitherman Leaves Vinson & Elkins Law Firm
On 1/23/17, FuelFix reported that Barry Smitherman, who was the Chairman of PUCT and the Railroad Commission, has resigned his partnership at Vinson & Elkins last Friday. According to the firm’s statement, he left to “pursue other career opportunities and interests.” “In December, Smitherman wrote an opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News about why………Click here for more

Most of DOE’s Home Page Erased after Inauguration
On 1/23/17, EE News reported that soon “after President Trump’s swearing in Friday, most of the content on the Department of Energy’s home page disappeared into the ether. The changeover was much more abrupt than the transition between presidents George W. Bush and Obama in 2009. Back then, the incoming administration dropped in a photo……….Click here for more

California Utilities Seek $1B to Build out Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
On 1/24/17, GreenTech Media reported on California utilities’ plans to expand the state’s electric- vehicle infrastructure. They have already rolled out $200 million on charging stations for apartments, workplaces, and disadvantaged communities. “Now they’re seeking permission to spend $1 billion more over the next five years ……….Click here for more

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Study: Deregulated Power Markets Decrease Cost of Generation
On 1/20/17, FuelFix reported on a study by the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago (EPIC), which found that deregulated utility markets decrease the cost of generating electricity by $3 billion per year. “Power companies in deregulated markets are more likely to use lower-cost power generating units, and reduce the use of power generators that cost more to run, the University of Chicago study found. The study’s conclusions are based on ………Click here for more

FERC on Energy Storage and Uplift Cost Allocation
On 1/19/17, FERC addressed at least two issues: cost recovery by electric storage resources and reforms to uplift cost allocation. On the first, FERC issued a press release, noting that its policy statement provides additional guidance for electric storage resources that seek concurrently to recover their costs through cost-based and market-based rates. It also helps ensure that these resources can operate at maximum efficiency to……….Click here for more

Report: DOE Target for Massive Cuts in Trump Budget Draft
On 1/20/17, UtilityDIVE reported that as President Donald Trump was being sworn into office, “early reports indicate his team is preparing a series of dramatic cuts that could reduce government spending by more than $10 trillion over a decade. The cuts, reported by The Hill, would reshape the Department of Energy……….Click here for more

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AEP’s Eagle Pass DC Tie Shuts for Unplanned Outage
On 1/18/17, Platts reported that “American Electric Power’s 36-MW Eagle Pass DC Tie was shut around midnight Tuesday due to an unplanned outage, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said. The tie was expected to be unavailable from 11:56 pm CST Tuesday through noon Thursday, the grid operator said. ……….Click here for more

Rick Perry Hearing: Former Governor Regrets Call to Eliminate DOE
On 1/19/17, Electric Light and Power reported on the confirmation hearing of former Texas governor Rick Perry to be the Secretary of Energy. “Perry told a Senate committee that if confirmed, he will be a passionate advocate for the department’s core missions and will seek to draw ‘greater attention to the vital role played by the agency,’ especially in protecting and modernizing the nation’s nuclear stockpile. ………Click here for more

New York Backs 11 Large-scale Renewable Projects On 1/18/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week announced the state would provide $360 million to support 11 large-scale renewable energy projects, a diverse mix that includes solar, wind, hydro, and ……….Click here for more

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PUCT Staff File Testimony in Oncor Acquisition Case
On 1/18/17, the PUCT staff filed testimony from several witnesses, including Darryl Tietjen in NextEra’s case to acquire Oncor (PUCT Docket No. 46238). His testimony centered on two questions: (a) should NextEra Energy’s ability to expense for ratemaking purposes a federal income tax be addressed in this docket; and (b) if so, should any tax savings derived from NextEra Energy’s structure or tax filings be shared with its ratepayers? In his recommendation, Darryl stated that:

–“Assuming that the Commission approves the proposed transaction, and given the size of Oncor Electric Delivery Company (Oncor) and the amount of federal income-tax expense included in its Commission-authorized revenue requirement……….Click here for more

Oncor Demo Center Tests DG, Storage – and Gives Visitors a Jolt
On 1/16/17, RTO Insider provided a story about Oncor’s test center near Dallas, where visitors are greeted with a loud “rumble of thunder.” “’We like to give people a little jump … and we’re only running the [sound system at] about 60%,’ Oncor Chief Technology Officer Michael Quinn says with an impish grin. That’s a key part of the experience in the “Immersion Room” at Oncor’s Technology, Demonstration and Education Center (TDEC) on the plains south of Dallas.………Click here for more

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Elliott Teams with Ex-TXU CEO for NRG Energy Shake-up
On 1/17/17, Reuters UK reported that “Elliott Management and private equity firm Bluescape Energy Partners have teamed up to buy a 9.4 percent stake in NRG Energy Inc (NRG.N) 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……….Click here for more

Texas among Top Five States with Strong Clean Energy Leading to Jobs and Growth
On 1/17/17, Electric Light and Power highlighted a report from the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) that ranks all 50 U.S. states, based on the ease with which America’s most recognizable brands can procure domestic renewable energy such as solar and wind for their operations. Texas ranked ………Click here for more

Power Prices Fall in 2016 Due to Lower Natural Gas Values
In 2016, electric energy prices were lower all across the country, not just in ERCOT. As reported by Power Engineering, based on the Energy Information Administration’s data, “average wholesale electricity prices fell across the United States during 2016, mostly due to the sustained lower cost of natural gas, with prices ranging from $20 to $45 per MWh. “Natural gas prices averaged……..Click here for more

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Vistra Energy Borrows $1 Billion to Pay Dividends
On 1/13/17, The Dallas Morning News reported on what “Vistra Energy, parent company for TXU Energy and Luminant, did after emerging from Chapter 11 in October. First, it cut 500 jobs, primarily in Dallas, and slashed other overhead by more than 50 percent. Then it borrowed $1 billion to pay a one-time cash dividend……….Click here for more

 PUCT Requests Additional Comments on Revised Reliability Must-Run Draft Rule
On 1/13/17 the PUCT staff issued a second draft strawman proposal and request for comment in the rulemaking relating to Reliability Must-Run (RMR) Service. New comments are requested only concerning the amendments identified in this strawman.  In addition, comments are invited on questions pertaining to Must Run Alternative (MRA) resources:

  • Should eligible MRA resources be limited to demand-side resources (for example those defined in P.U.C Subst. R. §25.5(29)) and Emergency Response Service (ERS) resources?

.………Click here for more

Report: Top Companies Could Contract 60GW of Green Energy by 2025
On 1/13/17, UtilityDIVE reported that “[m]ajor retail and technology brands will procure 60GW of renewable energy by 2025, according to a new report, and those companies will locate their operations and employees in states where the procurement is easiest……..Click here for more

Quadrennial Energy Review – More Details
On 1/16/17, Electric Light & Power provided additional details about the recently released second installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) and its 76 recommendations. They include a call to increase federal support for state efforts to quantitatively value and incorporate energy efficiency, demand response, distributed storage, and distributed generation into resource planning.”.……….Click here for more

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Testimony Filed in NextEra’s Oncor Acquisition Case
On 1/11/17, several parties filed direct testimony and statements of position in Docket No. 46238, Joint Report and Application of Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC, and NextEra Energy, Inc., for Regulatory Approvals Pursuant to PURA §§ 14.101, 39.262, and 39.915. In their statement of position, NRG Companies stated that “to ensure the efficient operation of competitive markets, the Commission should prohibit the interconnection of any NextEra Energy generation to the Oncor transmission system and……….Click here for more

Solar Plants Can Provide Key Grid Services: California ISO Report
On 1/12/17, Platts highlighted a report, published by CAISO, which found that “solar facilities with smart inverter technology can provide key grid services at levels that are similar to, and in some cases better than, conventional power plants.” In the press release, CAISO announced that its tests showed that renewable plants can balance low-carbon grid.……..Click here for more

European Union Approves State Aid to AREVA
On 1/12/17, Electric Light and Power reported that the “European Commission has approved a planned $4.76 billion capital injection in Areva by the French government, saying the restructuring plan for the company met state aid guidelines. There are however conditions going with that approval. These include a positive conclusion……….Click here for more

PUCT Final Report on Alternative Rate Mechanisms
On 1/12/17 the PUCT filed their final Report and Recommendations on Alternative Ratemaking Mechanisms, which has also been provided to the 85th Texas Legislature.  It includes a summary of the report prepared by Christensen Associates Energy Consulting, LLC, part of which is attached………Click here for more

ERCOT Files 2016 Operations Report and Plan
On 1/12/17 ERCOT filed the ERCOT 2016 Operations Report and Plan at the PUCT. The report includes the independent audit for the report year, and a summary of key market operations statistics including prices and quantities of energy and capacity purchased in the markets operated by ERCOT.  In addition, there is a summary of key reliability statistics; a summary of transmission planning and generation interconnection activities; the most recent report on capacity, demand, and reserves……..Click here for more

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ERCOT Group Advances Proposal for Third Year in CRR Auctions
On 1/11/17, Platts reported that ERCOT’s “Wholesale Market Subcommittee on Wednesday endorsed a proposal for adding a third year to its congestion revenue rights market and referred issues related to reliability-must-run pricing and day-ahead market resettlements to other stakeholder groups…. On the CRR proposal, the WMS voted to……….Click here for more

Texas Plants among 17 Nuclear Reactors with Parts from Forge under Probe
On 1/10/17, Reuters reported that the “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.” French authorities are investigating what is said to be……..Click here for more

UT Energy Week Planned for Early February
The University of Texas at Austin will hold the UT Energy Week 2017 on Feb. 7-10 – “a gathering of experts from academia, industry, regulatory agencies, and non-profit organizations to explore and debate some of society’s most vital energy issues.” The conference “will be co-hosted by UT Austin’s Energy Institute, the KBH Center for Energy, Law & Business, and two student-run organizations……….Click here for more

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PUCT Staff Ask for Comments on Draft Distribution Report
On 1/9/17, the PUCT staff filed the 2016 Report on Electric Utility Distribution System Spending and Reliability. It provides data on distribution system spending, including on vegetation management (VM) and reliability. The data are provided for each investor-owned electric utility in Texas that serves customers using distribution facilities. The purpose of the report is……….Click here for more

Hawaii Co-op Signs Deal for Solar + Storage Project at 11¢/kWh
On 1/10/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “Kauai Island Electric Cooperative and AES Corp. announced plans to pair a 28MW solar array with a 20MW, 100MWh battery system to deliver dispatchable renewable generation to the Hawaiian island. KIUC will pay $0.11/kWh for power delivered from the solar-plus-storage system……..Click here for more

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ERCOT Looks to Incorporate DG, Improve Ancillary Services in 2017
On 1/2/17, RTO Insider looked at the potential areas of focus in ERCOT, observing that its “competitive electric market is pretty much running on cruise control,” with ample low-cost electricity, growing demand, and new renewable resources. “Much of the focus in 2017 will be on ……….Click here for more

Mexico, U.S. Sign Framework on Power Grid
On 1/9/17, Electric Light and Power reported that last Saturday, U.S. and Mexico signed “a framework agreement on principles aimed at building the kind of cross-border electricity market with Mexico that the United States already has with Canada.……..Click here for more

Levelized Cost of Energy Survey Shows Wind, Natural Gas Cementing Economic Edge
On 1/8/17, S&P Global reported that a “survey of levelized cost of energy, or LCOE, studies illustrates that onshore wind and combined-cycle gas have secured their place as the lowest-cost energy resources, with utility-scale solar not far behind.” “The demands of a developed economy will continue to require both traditional and alternative energy sources as the technologies driving renewable energy evolve,”…………Click here for more

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DOE Parting Report Warns of Widespread Threats
On 1/6/17, EE News reported that “Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, unveiled more than 75 DOE recommendations at an event in Washington, D.C., today — all aimed at safeguarding the nation’s sprawling grid from hackers, physical attacks, and.……..Click here for more

 PUCT Staff File Estimate of Installed Capacity in ERCOT
On 1/6/17 the PUCT staff filed its Estimate of Installed Capacity in ERCOT for January 2017. Accompanying the memo is a spreadsheet containing details.  “The amount of installed capacity is a factor in determining (1) the 20 percent limit on…………Click here for more

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Energy Sector Gears up for Tax, Regulatory Reform from Congress in 2017
On 1/4/17, S&P Global reported that “Republicans plan to pursue broad tax reform and streamline or cut regulations for the energy sector, goals that will be aided by having a Republican president in the White House.” President-elect Trump “has promised to rescind the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan and a wave of other Obama-era rules.……..Click here for more

SPP Seeks DOE Approval for Electricity Sales into Canada
On 1/5/17, UtilityDIVE reported that the “Southwest Power Pool (SPP) has applied to the Department of Energy for authority to transmit electric energy from the United States to Canada. SPP would transmit the electricity on an emergency basis for five years, …………Click here for more

BP Energy Requests Renewal of Electricity Sales into Mexico
On 1/5/17 BP Energy Company, a power marketer, filed at the PUCT a copy of its request to the Department of Energy for renewal of authorization to export power into Mexico. The current authorization expires February 21, 2017.……….Click here for more

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Rick Perry and Rex Tillerson Meet with Key U.S. Senators
On 1/4/17, The Texas Tribune reported that the two nominees – Rick Perry for DOE and Rex Tillerson for the State Department – have been meeting with U.S. senators ahead of the upcoming confirmation hearings. For the former governor, the apparent take-away was “preparation, preparation, preparations……..Click here for more

Poor Texans Left in Dark as State Electricity Aid Program Ends
On 1/5/17, The Texas Tribune reported that “low-income Texans are struggling to come to grips with the demise of a longstanding program that helped them pay their electricity bills.” One woman in North Texas – unable to turn on her heat during a freezing spell – wrote an email that she inadvertently sent to The Texas Tribune, asking to bring back the low-income electric discount program.…………Click here for more

Repealing Clean Power Plan Will Bring More Lawsuits, Democratic AGs Warn
On 1/4/17, UtilityDIVE reported that, “[l]ed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D), officials from 14 states and several cities have sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him not to scrap landmark climate rules that will cut emissions at existing power plants, ……….Click here for more

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DOE Nominee Rick Perry Sparks Speculation
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry – to some an unexpected nominee for the Secretary of Energy – is sparking quite a few news stories. An detailed article at UtilityDIVE looks at how he would run the Department of Energy, and quotes from supporters who believe that he helped the state’s wind industry grow – an indication that he might continue to address climate change and also support other technologies. Karl Rabago, a former PUCT Commissioner, is more skeptical……..Click here for more

The Washington Post: Never Mind about those “Russian Hackers” I
n a new post about the Vermont utility hacking non-story, The Washington Post explained that as “federal officials investigate suspicious Internet activity found last week on a Vermont utility computer, they are finding evidence that the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility, according to experts and …………Click here for more

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Washington Post Retracts Story about Utility Hack
On the last day of 2016, The Washington Post posted a story suggesting that hackers from Russia had tried to penetrate a Vermont utility. The ominous-sounding headline was picked up by other publications and widely disseminated – except that it was not true.……..Click here for more

 Solar Power on the Rise in Texas in 2016
On 12/30/16, FuelFix reported on the development of solar power in Texas, noting that “the industry is starting to pick up, according to a year-end report from the Solar Energy Industries Association, a national trade group.” After Utah and California, “Texas ranked third in the nation for most solar capacity installed in the third quarter.”………Click here for more

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    ERCOT's Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting 8/25/16

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