Energy Exchange

3 reasons Texas’ electric grid survived a summer that pushed its limits

As the hot summer approached, Texas leaders expressed concern about potential blackouts and brownouts. Yet, thoughtful planning, a functional electricity market and clean energy helped ensure the lights stayed on.

Power outage concerns

Hotter temperatures and continued population and commercial growth drove record electricity demand this past summer. Additionally, in early 2018, Luminant (now Vistra) shut down three large coal plants – all inefficient and highly-polluting – with a combined capacity of 4,200 megawatts (MW).

The shutdown of these power plants and other changes in the electricity market initially led the state’s electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), to forecast few electricity-making resources would be available beyond the amount customers would likely demand.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization, Regional Grid / Comments are closed

A little flexibility can go a long way to maximize renewables

Greentech Media’s Power & Renewables Summit takes place November 13-14, 2018 in Austin, Texas. The conference will gather industry views on how renewable integration, decarbonization and sector electrification are impacting electricity systems.

In the last month, a new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change heightened the urgency of climate threats and the need for decisive actions to avoid them. The report “describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040.”

As I and other renewable energy insiders plan our talking points for Greentech Media’s “Power & Renewables Summit” in Austin next month, this report should serve as inspiration. The need for a clean, resilient energy economy just got a lot more salient. Read More »

Also posted in California, Renewable Energy / Comments are closed

New EPA data confirms methane emissions not declining fast enough

Last week EPA released its annual data from large emitters, called the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP). It is not a comprehensive account of all methane emissions (for that, check out our methane synthesis paper published earlier this year) but it does provided us with an important snapshot of 2017 oil and gas methane emissions.

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Also posted in California, Colorado, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wyoming / Comments are closed

State leaders concerned about safety of reusing oil and gas wastewater

Regulators from across the country met in Vermont this week at the Environmental Council of the State’s (ECOS) fall meeting to discuss some of the nation’s most pressing environmental challenges. I joined members of ECOS’ Shale Gas Caucus to discuss an emerging threat imminently impacting oil and gas-producing states: the question of what to do with the massive amount of wastewater produced by the oil and gas industry each year.

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Also posted in California, Colorado, General, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, produced water, produced water, State, Water, Wyoming / Tagged | Comments are closed

Bipartisan western governors agree methane reductions benefit states

Yesterday the Western Governors Association, a bipartisan organization representing the Governors of the 19 western states, announced a policy resolution recognizing the importance and economic benefits of efforts to cut methane pollution from oil and gas facilities – the nation’s largest industrial source of methane.

The resolution states:

There are environmental and economic benefits of reducing methane emissions and opportunities for the beneficial use of this natural resource. Many western states – in cooperation with industry in those states – have already implemented regulatory strategies that reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations, while expanding the use and sale of methane.

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Also posted in California, Colorado, General, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, State, Wyoming / Comments are closed

As Permian drilling booms, will the Texas Railroad Commission stand against wasted gas?

This piece originally appeared as an op-ed in the Midland Reporter-Telegram

The West Texas Permian oilfield is poised for rapid development in the next decade; the Energy Information Administration projects oil production in the Permian could grow 60 percent by the year 2030. But oil wells in Texas’ Permian Basin don’t just pump oil, they also produce large amounts of natural gas – which many companies aren’t equipped to handle.

That is posing a problem for Texas, as producers run out of capacity to move associated gas to market. Without reasonable action from the state’s oil and gas regulator, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), producers could resort to simply burning away excess gas – something we’ve seen in other oil fields where gas is not the primary production target.

This process, also known as flaring, is a recipe for widespread waste and pollution.

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Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed