87 posts categorized "Electricity"


Texas needs to cut carbon emissions 39 percent under EPA proposal

Carbon emissions from electricity generation would need to decline by 39 percent by 2030 under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed greenhouse gas reduction proposal today. The agency on average calls for a 30 percent reduction nationally. Texas would need to reduce its carbon emissions from 1,298 pounds per megawatt-hour, the rate in 2012, to 791 pounds per mw-h. EPA officials said the standards are based on the  2012 "state of the fleet" for each state's generation capacity, taking into account previous efforts to cut emissions through energy efficiency programs, renewable energy standards and other programs. According to EPA, Texas got about half its power in 2012 from natural gas, 32 percent from coal, 7.5 percent from wind and 8.9 percent from nuclear.

"It will be up to the states to define their plans ... to meet the goals," one of several senior EPA officials said on a conference call with reporters this morning. "Ultimately if a state doesn't set a plan the EPA will set one," said another EPA official. It could be a carbon tax or other system, they said, "and states will make their own choices of what makes sense for them."

-- Jim Fuquay


Bankruptcy notice sent to TXU Energy customers just "informational"

Residents who use TXU Energy for their electricity service have started getting an odd notice concerning Energy Future Holdings, the parent of TXU Energy that filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition last month. The notice talks about filing "proofs of claim" in the case, but as far as residential customers go it's largely " for informational purposes," according to a prepared statement from TXU Energy spokesman Juan Elizondo. He added that "customers may receive other notices during the Chapter 11 process depending on their circumstance."

The notice is a little confusing because the first paragraph starts out saying the recipient got the mailing because "you are (a) a large commercial or industrial customer" of an EFH company. But keep reading, and it goes on to say you also have received it because you're "a residential or small business customer of the Debtors that is subject to an agreement for the sale of electricity ... ."

"In a nutshell, there is absolutely no problem," Elizondo said in a email today. "Business continues as usual and we are honoring all customer contracts and commitments." The notice comes from a company called EPIQ Bankruptcy Services, which specializes in legal paperwork handling and is running the web site where court filings in the EFH bankruptcy are posted.

-- Jim Fuquay


Wise County landowner battles Oncor over power lines

Texas Tribune has an interesting report on rancher Johnny Vinson's efforts to get Oncor Electric Delivery to move a new high-voltage line that he says wasn't built along the agreed-to route as it crosses his land in Wise County. He maintains that the 150-foot change left him with 11 acres stranded between two power line easements. Oncor said it discovered natural gas and water pipelines under the original planned route, which followed existing power lines. The report says utilities frequently adjust routes, but state regulations don't say how much the path can change and last month an administrative law judge ruled in the utility's favor.

The case is on the Public Utility Commission of Texas' agenda at its Friday meeting. A link to the Texas Tribune report is here. You can read all the parties' filings in the case on the PUC's InterChange site here.

-- Jim Fuquay


Texas PUC to revisit rules governing electricity bidding

Texas Tribune has a follow-up on the lawsuit that two energy trading firms in April sued Houston-based power company GDF Suez over what the firms said was improper bidding in Texas' wholesale power market. The Star-Telegram reported that lawsuit here. The Texas Tribune article says "Texas regulators will take a fresh look at an eight-year-old rule that allows certain electricity generators to 'swim free' of safeguards against manipulation of the wholesale energy market — a practice that critics say can lead to higher bills for consumers." A link to that report is here.

-- Jim Fuquay


Texas summer power outlook improving, ERCOT says

New generation capacity expected to be available by August should mean adequate electricity supplies this summer, says the state's largest power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. ERCOT issued its final summer outlook Thursday, saying this summer should be milder than the previous four years overall. ERCOT serves about 85 percent of the state's total electricity demand.

It estimates peak demand of about 68,100 megawatts, just below the record set Aug. 3, 2011, during that year's heat wave. The report estimates available resources of about 74,000 megawatts. But by Aug. 1 an additional 2,153 megawatts of capacity is expected to be available. "We may need to ask consumers to reduce electric use if we experience extremely hot weather or widespread unit outages during the early summer months," said Warren Lasher, ERCOT's director of system planning.

ERCOT also said it expects its reserve margin -- the amount of available capacity over forecast demand -- to remain just above its 13.75 percent target through  2017. It said it added two new power plants to its schedule since February -- a 299-megawatt wind farm expected to be in service in 2015, and a 703-megawatt gas-fired facility expected in 2016.

-- Jim Fuquay 

Energy Future Holdings bankruptcy court proceedings begin

First-day hearings on routine moves to allow Energy Future Holdings to pay employees and other bills began this morning in the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case in Delaware. So did objections to its plans, including the request by Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB, a trustee for junior bondholders, to transfer the case to Dallas, EFH's hometown and to question company executives about the case. A group of unsecured noteholders of Texas Competitive Electric Holdings Co., EFH's largest unit, also filed an objection.

According to an agenda filed with the court, the company will ask to combine the dozens of separate entities into one proceeding. Most of its motions ask Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi to approve measures that will allow EFH to continue to transact day-to-day business matters. Bloomberg News reported that it took three courtrooms to hold all the attorneys involved in the case.

-- Jim Fuquay 


Energy Future Holdings files 2013 earnings

Energy Future Holdings, which on Tuesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, lost $2.3 billion in 2013, the Dallas-based energy giant said in a government filing. The company had delayed the filing as it conducted restructuring negotiations with creditors.

For the first time since the buyout of the former TXU Corp. in 2007, EFH saw its revenues increase, to $5.9 billion from $5.6 billion in 2012. But a $1 billion charge and, higher fuel and purchased power costs and $2.7 billion in interest and related charges produced the net loss, which compared to a loss of $3.4 billion in 2012.

EFH’s earnings included $335 million from its 80 percent ownership stake in Oncor Electric Delivery, a regulated utility that operates most of the power lines in North Texas. In a separate filing in March, Oncor had reported $432 million in net income on revenues of $3.6 billion.

-- Jim Fuquay


Energy Future Holdings bankruptcy filing expected soon, reports say

Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings is near a deal that would give it $9.7 billion in financing to use during a bankruptcy proceeding, Reuters reported Monday. The news service said the state's biggest electricity company is expected to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition on Tuesday, a move Reuters said it would make  whether or not all its creditors are on board with a restructuring plan.

Also Monday, The Wall Street Journal said EFH was finalizing a reorganization pact with its largest creditors that would shorten its bankruptcy proceeding. It said a Chapter 11 filing was expected within 48 hours. The Journal also said the company is expected to go ahead with its petition this week even without an agreement with creditors.

The company faces a May 1 expiration of the grace period on a debt payment EFH skipped a month earlier. It has been burdened with close to $40 billion in debt from the 2007 buyout of the former TXU Corp. The investors that led the buyout -- KKR, TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs -- have written off nearly all the $8.4 billion that they and their clients put into the deal, and lenders who financed the buyout have also taken big losses. EFH has said it does not expect a bankruptcy filing to affect its day-to-day operations. The company includes Luminant Generation, TXU Energy, a big electricity retailer, and Oncor Electric Delivery, which operates most of the  power lines serving North Texas.

-- Jim Fuquay  


Lawsuit accuses Texas electricity company of market manipulation

GDF Suez, a Houston-based power generator with facilities around the state including in Wise and Ellis counties, has been accused of market manipulation by two electricity trading firms who say Suez's actions have cost them millions. The suit was filed Tuesday in Houston federal court by Aspire Commodities LP and Raiden Commodities LP. It follows reports last year by Platts, a specialty news publisher, that said GDF Suez's activities have become a concern to participants in the state's largest power market, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas. GDF Suez said Thursday it had no comment on the suit as a pending legal matter.

According to the lawsuit, available here: Download GDF Suez suit, GDF Suez North America "intentionally withholds electricity generation during times of tight supply, for reasons not explained by rational notions of supply and demand, but to use its power in times of such tight supply to drive prices in the ERCOT Real Time market higher. GDF Suez then dumps its electricity at the artificially high price it created to make excessive, artificial profits not supported by genuine supply and demand." The suit also claims Suez has taken actions that have on occasion cost it millions in the ERCOT market "because it can make more elsewhere –- namely, by trading with inside, superior knowledge on commodities markets" through its own electricity trading operations. Barry Hammond, a Houston attorney representing Aspire and Raiden, said he expects during the discovery phase to "lay bare the trading strategies" by Suez companies.

Besides ERCOT's own rules, electricity traders are overseen by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The agency has a provision, called the "small fish" rule, that exempts from market manipulation charges any generator with less than 5 percent of the state's power market. The lawsuit says Suez has just under 5 percent, and Aspire and Raiden also filed a petition with the PUC asking it to rescind the small fish rule. PUC spokesman Terry Hadley said the agency has 60 days to act on such a petition and has begun taking comments on the petition. He said it was the first such request he was aware of, adding that the small fish rule was last amended in 2006.

-- Jim Fuquay


Oncor could be attractive asset under EFH restructuring, analysts say

Oncor Electric Delivery, which operates the wires that distribute electricity to much of North Texas, is worth billions to other utilities that might be interested in acquiring it in an expected bankruptcy restructuring by its corporate parent, Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, analysts say. Bloomberg News reports that several utilities as well as outside investors would be attracted by Oncor's steady, regulated earnings and presence in a growing market if the unit is split off from EFH. A link to the story is here.

-- Jim Fuquay


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