30 posts categorized "Energy"


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


Jetta Operating looking at new quarters in downtown Fort Worth

Anthracite Realty Partners, a real estate development firm owned by Jetta Operating President Greg Bird, has agreed to buy a downtown lot from The Fort Worth Club for an office building that would serve as Jetta's new headquarters. The energy producer has had offices in the Fort Worth Club Building since 1991. The property, now a parking lot, is three-quarters of a block bounded by Taylor and Lamar streets on the east and west, and by Sixth and Fifth streets on the north and south. FWC bought the property from the Star-Telegram in 2008. The sale is expected to close by the end of June pending due-diligence review. Terms were not disclosed. Bennett Benner Partners, a Fort Worth architectural firm, will handle the review and initial planning. The building under consideration would include some retail space and also a parking garage.

"Fort Worth has always been Jetta's home, and we are delighted about the potential of this new downtown Fort Worth development," Bird said in a prepared release, which said the intent is to develop a Class A multiuse office building. The release also quotes FWC President Tim Carter as saying the club "is excited about this opportunity to be able to provide our members, tenants and guests with access to additional secure and convenient covered parking." FWC already owns a 300-space parking garage attached to its building at 306 W. Seventh St.

-- Jim Fuquay


Study: Texas gained 6,368 jobs in 2013 from clean energy and transportation

Texas projects involved in clean energy production and energy-efficient transportation projects added 6,368 positions last year, according to a new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs. The state ranked No. 2, behind California's 15,397 jobs. One example cited among the eight projects in Texas was the 80-turbine, 165-megawatt Cameron Wind farm in South Texas announced by Apex Clean Energy, which could create more than 200 jobs.

The study looked at jobs in power generation and manufacturing, building efficiency, public transportation and other sectors. It counted more than 78,600 jobs nationally at newly announced projects, projects under construction or job additions at existing projects. The report said 32,500 jobs were power-related, with solar power was the biggest in that sector with more than 21,600 jobs.

Texas was No. 1 nationally in new jobs in the fourth quarter, the report said, with about 3,286 jobs, including 1,400 in five different wind power projects. Texas is No. 1 in wind power capacity, with more than 11,000 megawatts.

It's the second year for the study, which listed more than 100,000 jobs in 2012. The decline could be related to a change in methodology, the group said. Environmental Entrepreneurs describes itself as a national group of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy and economic prosperity. Its web site is here.

-- Jim Fuquay


Texas wind power cutting emissions, environmental group says

A new study says Texas' renewable energy standards have been by far the biggest contributors to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The study, released today by Environment Texas, estimates that the state has reduced GHG emissions by nearly 20 million tons in 2012, of which 12.6 million tons came from policies mandating electricity production from renewable sources, a requirement largely filled with wind power. Texas is the  nation's biggest producer of electricity from wind, and last year wind supplied nearly 10 percent of all the electricity used in the state. Also contributing to lower GHG emissions were energy-efficiency requirements and other state and federal policies, the study said. The study said that nationally, emissions of carbon dioxide declined more than 12 percent between 2007 and 2012.

-- Jim Fuquay


Texas deregulated electricity rates dip below U.S. average

Electricity rates paid by residential customers in deregulated Texas markets last year were below the national average for the first time in a decade, according to a new report. The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, which has long criticized deregulation of the state’s retail power market in 2002, said it’s the fourth straight year that electricity prices have fallen. The group said that in 2012, Texas consumers in deregulated markets paid an average of 11.75 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with 11.88 cents nationally.

“Residential electricity prices under deregulation continue trending in the right direction. But prices are still higher than power customers pay in areas of Texas not subject to deregulation,” said Randy Moravec, TCAP’s executive director. “This analysis shows there’s still plenty of room for improvement under our deregulation law.”

Texas electricity rates shot up along with the cost of natural gas until 2008. Then gas prices plunged, taking electricity prices with them. Natural gas drives the wholesale price of power in the state because gas-fired generators provide the bulk of peak demand. Texas markets that remain regulated and those served by municipal power companies and co-ops don’t follow the same pricing model, and their rates on average were lower than those in deregulated markets, TCAP said.

In 2012, residential customers with regulated, muni and co-op service paid an average of just under 10 cents per kw-h, according to the study. TCAP said the difference between Texas regulated and deregulated rates in 2012 amounted to more than $280 for an average residential customer and $1.5 billion for the entire state.

While consumers in deregulated areas who comparison-shop at PowerToChoose.com can buy power for less, TCAP noted that many consumers have remained with legacy power companies, such as TXU Energy in North Texas. Those providers generally charge more, the study says. TCAP’s study used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which surveys rates paid by customers of utilities and other electricity retailers. TCAP’s members are 168 cities and other governmental buyers of electricity.

-- Jim Fuquay


Chevrolet introduces CNG-capable bi-fuel Impala

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General Motors said it will sell a version of its well-received Chevrolet Impala that runs on both gasoline and also compressed natural gas. The car has a separate CNG tank mounted in the truck, and drivers can switch, well, from gas to gas, by pushing a button on the dashboard. It's expected to be in showrooms next summer as a 2015 model. In an unveiling Wednesday in Washington, D.C., GM CEO Dan Akerson said "there will be nothing like it on the road." He said the sedan can go 350 miles on gasoline and 150 miles on natural gas. It's expected to find a place in corporate and government fleets, but it will also be sold at dealers -- but not a lot. GM said it would be happy to move 750 to 1,000 units the first year, according to Automotive News

Akerson said the bi-fuel approach is a nod to its Chevy Volt, the plug-in electric that comes with a small gasoline engine to extend its range. No word on pricing. CNG vehicles can carry steep costs, generally thousands more in conversions and special engine equipment. Ford announced a CNG-ready engine for its popular F-150 pickup truck in July, but the after-market conversion adds an extra $7,500 to $9,000 to the price tag.

-- Jim Fuquay


Alice Walton, Basses prominent on Forbes list of richest Americans

Alice Walton, daughter of the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, ranks No. 8 on the new Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans. She's also the richest Texan by the magazine's estimate, with a net worth of $33.5 billion. Walton has a home in Fort Worth and a ranch in Millsap. The magazine, in a story focused on her art collecting, describes her living arrangements like this:

"She spends the majority of her time at her Rocking W Ranch an hour west of Fort Worth, Tex., in tiny Millsap (pop. 409), where she breeds cutting horses and cooks her famous beans and rice for her ranch family, as she calls her live-in staff. She’s never had any kids, but speaks fondly of her 23-year-old horse trainer, Jesse Lennox, and loves watching him compete."

Every other Fort Worth name on the Forbes list has a direct tie to the city's Bass family. Those include brothers Robert M. Bass (No. 193, $2.8 billion); Edward and Lee Bass (No. 260, $2.1 billion); and Sid R. Bass (No. 314, $1.8 billion). Tied for No. 209 at $2.6 billion each are Richard Rainwater, who was the family's longtime financial advisor until 1986, and David Bonderman, who was Robert Bass' financial advisor and since 1992 has been a private equity investor.

Also on the list are brothers Dan and Farris Wilks, who founded and sold Fort Worth-based FTS International, formerly Frac Tech. They live in Cisco, where FTS started, and have an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion each, ranking No. 352. FTS moved its headquarters to Fort Worth in 2011.

Prominent Dallas residents on the list are topped by investor Harold Simmons at No. 40 with $10 billion. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is tied at No. 166 with Herbert Hunt with $3 billion, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban checks in at No. 222 with $2.5 billion; and Texas Rangers co-owner Ray Davis is No. 296 with $1.9 billion. H. Ross Perot Sr. is No. 134 with $3.5 billion, and son H. Ross Perot Jr. is No. 314 with $1.8 billion.

-- 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



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


SEC accuses Bedford man of investment fraud with energy offerings

Bret L. Boteler through his company, EnerMax, raised $17.3 million from about 260 investors in more than 40 states through fraudulent means including the sale of unregistered securities, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges in a lawsuit. The civil suit, filed June 28, seeks to enjoin Boteler, a Bedford resident, from further violations of federal securities law, disgorge money illegally obtained and also pay any other penalties levied by a the court. None of the three telephone numbers listed publicly for Boteler and EnerMax, in Hurst, were in operation when the Star-Telegram dialed them Tuesday.

According to the SEC suit, Boteler told investors in 16 partnerships that EnerMax was an experienced energy producer when "in reality neither Boteler nor the EnerMax staff were oil-and-gas professionals." Rather, the agency says, "the only operation conducted by EnerMax was selling oil-and-gas securities." The suit alleges that between November 2007 and December 2011 EnerMax conducted 16 offers raising $17.26 million aimed at developing two West Texas prospects. While the offering circular "purported to give investors a share of management responsibility, this assignment of responsibility was illusory," the suit says, and "few if any of the 260 investors had any experience" in the energy business. And while Boteler claimed the investments were exempt from registration requirements, more than 40 investors lacked the financial resources to be considered "accredited investors" and hence the offerings "did not qualify for an exemption from registration." The projects were not profitable and Boteler used hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay himself a salary and other expenses, including $65,000 for his children's private school tuition, and invested nearly $700,000 in two unrelated businesses.

The suit says Boteler shut down EnerMax in 2012.

-- Jim Fuquay



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