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15 posts from August 2013


Alabama firm starts medical office building in Granbury

LakeGranburyMobThe Sanders Trust, a healthcare real estate developer, says it started construction of a 41,000-square-foot medical office building on the campus of Lake Granbury Medical Center. The $8.7 million project aims for a June 2014 completion, with Sanders as owner and manager. The facility will house multiple Lake Granbury Medical Center departments, including orthopedics, outpatient radiology, cardiology, and sports medicine. There are plans for additional physician services.  

Lake Granbury Medical Center has 83 beds and a medical staff of 116 physicians in 24 specialties. It is part of Tennessee-based Community Health Systems.

-- Jim Fuquay 


Six Flags Hurricane Harbor to add new water slide in 2014

Six Flags Over Texas won't be getting any new big rides next year, but Hurricane Harbor will get a new "multi-featured water slide."

The announcement came as the Grand Prairie-based theme park company released its annual plans for new attractions at its 18 parks.

While a new roller coaster is planned in Chicago and other big thrill rides will be added in New Jersey, Washington, D.C and the Boston area, improvements to the Arlington park will be limited to the children's area where they will add "an interactive play area, some new rides and more places for parents to sit.

No word in the release on the state of the park's biggest attraction, the Texas Giant, will has been shut down since mid-July when a 52-year-old woman fell tio her death from the coaster. Six Flags is handling the investigation into the fatal accident. The $10 million, 16-sitory attraction had just reopened this season after a major renovation.

-- Steve Kaskovich


Security One credit union members OK merger with Texas Trust

Members of Security One Federal Credit Union on Wednesday night backed the institution's merger into Texas Trust Credit Union, the companies said this morning. They said the deal, announced July 10, has been approved by the National Credit Union Administration and is expected to be approved by the Texas Credit Union Department. The combined credit union will have more than $815 million in assets, more than 65,000 members and 13 branches. Security One's two branches, both in Arlington, will be rebranded as Texas Trust and should be consolidated into Texas Trust by the end of the year.

-- Jim Fuquay


Cash America to acquire 34-store pawn shop chain

Fort Worth-based Cash America International agreed to buy the assets of PawnMart, a chain with 31 pawn shops in Georgia and three in North Carolina, for about $62 million in cash. The stores had $10.7 million in pawn loan balances outstanding as of Dec. 31. The move will nearly triple Cash America's presence in and around Atlanta, giving it 48 locations in that metro area. The North Carolina stores are in Charlotte.

"Adding this well-run group of pawn stores and talented team will enhance our pawn business for many years to come," Cash America CEO Dan Feehan said in a prepared release. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.  Cash America currently has 827 pawn stores in 22 states, 47 in Mexico and 90 check-cashing centers in 14 states.

-- Jim Fuquay

Dallas doctors seek pollution controls at East Texas coal plants

The Dallas County Medical Society is asking the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to force three East Texas coal-fired power plants to cut emissions that it says contribute to higher ozone levels in the region. The physicians group in a petition to TCEQ cites a recent study that says the plants, all owned by Dallas-based Luminant Generation, produce an outsize share of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), as well as mercury emissions, compared to newer generators of similar output. The plants and their locations are: Big Brown, near Fairfield southeast of Corsicana; Martin Lake, near Longview; and Monticello, near Mount Pleasant. The medical society and Texas Medical Association sponsored the study, by Rice University's Daniel Cohan, and plan a 2 p.m. news conference Wednesday. 

"The Cohan Report identified these three very old coal-fired power plants south and east of Dallas, built in the 1970s, that have never been required to meet current emission limits and which contribute disproportionately to ozone levels in the Dallas-Fort Worth area," Dr. Cynthia Sherry, president of the Dallas County Medical Society, said in a prepared release. Luminant, a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings, is already in court with the Environmental Protection Agency over pollution control requirements at the Big Brown and Martin Lake plants. The U.S. Justice Department on Aug. 17 filed a lawsuit in support of the EPA's position that the plants have made changes that trigger requirements for new permits and additional emissions controls. Luminant said at the time it has "complied with all requirements of the Clean Air Act for these two plants and our other generation facilities."

-- Jim Fuquay



Perry names former chief of staff to PUC

Gov. Rick Perry has appointed a former chief of staff to serve on the three-member Public Utility Commission, the Associated Press reported today.

The governor named Brandy Marty to the commission responsible for regulating electric utilities and telecommunications companies. The commission is also charged with handling consumer complaints and determining rates.

Marty worked her way up in Perry’s office from legislative liaison to running the governor’s office. She previously worked for several legislators in the Texas House.

Mary replaces Rolando Pablos who stepped down earlier this year. Marty attended the University of Texas at Austin and has a law degree from St. Mary’s University.

The PUC has been working to find a way in recent months to deal with potential electricity shortages.

-- Jim Fuquay


New Panhandle wind farm announced

Houston-based Pattern Energy Group says it started construction of its Panhandle Wind project, a 218-megawatt wind power project in Carson County, east of Amarillo. It will tie into the state's new Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines that bring power from mostly wind farms in West Texas to urban centers. Pattern Energy says it will install 118 General Electric 1.85-megawatt turbines and expects to go online by August 2014.

The announcement is welcome, given concerns that the power supply in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state's largest power grid, could fall behind growing demand in 2014 and after. Some believe those concerns are overstated. Pattern Energy said it currently operates about 1,000 megawatts of installed wind energy capacity in North America and Puerto Rico.

-- Jim Fuquay


ERCOT updates app to allow electricity price monitoring

ERCOT appThe Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state's biggest power grid, updated its app for Apple and Android devices on Monday, adding wholesale price information to the supply/demand balance previously tracked. The app shows wholesale price settlements updated every 15 minutes for various zones around the state. "Although these are wholesale prices and do not reflect the actual retail prices paid by consumers, the updates offer a simple, easily accessible way for market participants and other interested stakeholders to stay aware of ERCOT market conditions throughout the day," ERCOT says.

“We will continue to update this app to make it more valuable for consumers, market participants and other people with an interest in ERCOT,” said ERCOT Corporate Communications Director Theresa Gage. “The next update, out later this year, will provide information about the fuels being used to generate power,' she said.

-- Jim Fuquay

Luminant details responses to EPA suit over coal plants

Luminant Generation on Monday issued a statement detailing its response to a lawsuit filed Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. The formal complaint is sealed, but is related to an ongoing legal battle between the Dallas-based company and the EPA over pollution control measures at two coal plants in East Texas. (Here's a link to the Star-Telegram's report in Saturday's paper on the earlier lawsuit.)

Monday's statement by the state's largest electricity generator, a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings, says: "We firmly believe that we have complied with all requirements of the Clean Air Act for these two plants and our other generation facilities." It called Friday's lawsuit "the next step in the process which will likely continue for several years." Most of the statement repeats positions taken in the company's various appeals to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals -- that equipment work at the plants that did not significantly increase emissions doesn't require the company to get new permits and install the best available  control technology (BACT). "The EPA claims that certain routine maintenance work involving repairs and replacements of boiler components at Big Brown and Martin Lake (the affected coal-fired plants) required preconstruction permits. We do not believe that the preconstruction permits were required."

The company said it will "vigorously defend ourselves in court" just as it has challenged two previous actions. It also said the complaint was sealed "because EPA chose to include details containing our confidential and proprietary information in the lawsuit." Luminant said the lawsuit does not address mercury emissions. The previous suits have named nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide as the emissions involved.

-- Jim Fuquay


Justice Department sues Luminant over coal plants

The U.S. Justice Department sued Dallas-based Luminant Generation Friday in Dallas federal court, apparently over emissions at two northeast Texas coal-fired power plants. The suit was filed on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to court documents related to the case. But the main complaint by the government was sealed, based on Luminant’s claims that the suit contains confidential business information at its Martin Lake and Big Brown facilities. A Luminant spokesman said the company could not comment until it reviewed the suit.

The Sierra Club said Friday the suit is an enforcement action related to a previous EPA notice to Luminant for violations of the federal Clean Air Act. The group said those violations involved unauthorized changes to the Big Brown plant, east of Tyler, and the Martin Lake plant, near Fairfield that should have prompted Luminant to apply for new permits and install additional pollution control equipment. Luminant has two appeals pending before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning EPA actions against it. Those appeals argue that the agency overstepped its authority and failed to support its contention that changes at the power plants increased emissions.

Luminant is owned by Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, the former TXU Corp.

-- Jim Fuquay


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