Energy Exchange

Fossil fuel industry failed Texans during the freeze, now it’s using the crisis to attack renewables

February’s energy crisis did something no Texas politician has done in decades: It brought Texans together to demand our leaders in Austin fix the flawed energy system that failed so miserably, caused nearly $300 billion in damage and killed more than 200 Texans.

Unfortunately, fossil fuel interests and their willing allies in the Texas Legislature are pushing bills that would have absolutely zero impact on the problems that caused the crisis and would instead place additional costs on producers and customers of electricity generated by solar and wind. The Houston Chronicle called the bills a “cheap shot at renewable energy” and “shameless political opportunism aimed at helping the oil and gas industry profit off Texans’ misery.”

At issue are Senate Bill 1278 and House Bill 4466, companion bills that would force onto wind and solar power generators a disproportionate percentage of ERCOT’s “ancillary service” costs — costs that are currently divided equally among all electricity generators and then passed on to their customers.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

A clear path to protecting Texas from the next weather crisis

By Colin Leyden and John Hall

The aftermath of the storm we just endured will linger a lot longer than the average Texas winter.

At least 80 people died. Millions of families lost power and water service as broad swaths of our critical infrastructure froze up. Families, businesses and cities are still tallying the damage, but this crisis could surpass Hurricane Harvey’s $125 billion price tag and become the most expensive natural disaster in Texas history. Our most vulnerable communities were hit hardest by outages, and, in a cruel twist, some Texans (many of whom lost service during the crisis) are facing exorbitant electric bills because of disaster-induced market volatility.

This week, Texas began to pick up the pieces, identify what went wrong, and develop a plan to protect our citizens from extreme weather crises in the future.

Texans are mad, and we deserve to be. Preparation could have avoided this disaster. Texas leaders knew what to do, and they didn’t do it.

Texans deserve a comprehensive analysis of what happened, why it happened, and what state leaders and energy industry participants will do to ensure it never happens again. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, General, State / Comments are closed

A year of data and one clear message: Permian flaring remains a major problem

By Colin Leyden and Ben Hmiel

Even amidst a global pandemic and market volatility that reduced oil and gas activity, at least one thing didn’t change in the Permian last year: operators can’t seem to keep their flares lit.

Throughout 2020, EDF conducted aerial surveys of portions of the Permian Basin to determine the performance of natural gas flares. Even when done properly, flaring is a wasteful, polluting practice that has earned industry “a black eye.” But when flares malfunction they also become major sources of highly potent, climate-polluting methane.

Over the course of 2020, we conducted periodic surveys of flares in various parts of the Permian. These took place in February, March, June and November, and included a series of consecutive, repeat surveys of one specific area on November 2, 4 and 6 meant to understand how long flare malfunctions persist. In total, we studied nearly 1,200 flares in the region.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico, PermianMAP / Comments are closed

New report: Routine flaring in Texas’ Permian can be eliminated at little to no cost

A new analysis commissioned by EDF from Rystad Energy makes clear that flaring from Texas’ Permian oil and gas operations is persistent and is likely to increase in coming years as production rebounds from 2020, but that industry can eliminate most routine flaring at zero cost with simple rules and operator changes.

Following are key takeaways, but you can download Rystad’s entire report here.

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Also posted in Flaring, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Electrifying Texas’ successful emission reduction program

A new Environmental Defense Fund analysis finds that Texas’ successful emission reduction program could be even more powerful if it went electric — not just for reducing smog-forming nitrogen oxides and other local air pollutants, but for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and sparking job growth in the burgeoning electric vehicle industry.

Administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan provides financial incentives to reduce emissions from polluting vehicles and equipment. The bulk of TERP funding has been dedicated to quickening the replacement of larger diesel vehicles — medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Since 2001, more than 35,000 TERP projects totaling over $1.3 billion in grants have reduced upwards of 183,000 tons of NOx, a major driver of the state’s air quality challenges.

Applying TERP’s annual grants to spur the electrification of Texas’ truck and bus fleets would decrease NOx emissions faster and for as little as one-third the cost per ton of NOx compared to TERP’s past grant programs.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Electric Vehicles / Comments are closed

The connection between jobs and addressing orphan oil and gas wells

All across the country right now, there are tens of thousands of officially documented “orphan” oil and gas wells creating environmental hazards for their communities. These are wells that the oil and gas industry walked away from because they became uneconomic over time. Rather than properly sealing them, they left state and federal taxpayers holding the bag. These wells can be big sources of air, water and climate pollution if left unaddressed.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions more of these inactive, unplugged wells that need to be addressed. This is not to mention the potential for adding hundreds of thousands of currently active wells to the orphan well inventory as oil and gas producers struggle to survive the downturn in petroleum prices.

Luckily, efforts are underway in Congress and within the presidential transition plan to address these orphan wells. In his economic plan, President-elect Joe Biden laid out his vision for a cleaner and healthier future.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas, New York, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed