Texas Clean Air Matters

ERCOT Cites Very Little Burden in Complying with EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Source: Armin Kübelbeck, Wikimedia Commons

Source: Armin Kübelbeck, Wikimedia Commons

Well, it didn’t take long before the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released, at the request of Texas’ very political Public Utilities Commission, another report about the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) rules designed to protect public health.

This time ERCOT, which manages 90 percent of Texas’ electric grid, looked at the impact of seven EPA clean air safeguards on the electric grid, including the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), the Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS), the Regional Haze program (all of which go back before the Obama administration), the proposed Clean Power Plan, which would set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, and others. What was surprising to learn, though, is that after power companies in the state start complying with EPA’s other clean air protections, the proposed Clean Power Plan poses a minimal incremental impact to the power grid. We would only have to cut 200 megawatts of coal-fired generation, which equates to less than one coal-fired power plant. Read More »

Posted in Clean Power Plan, Coal, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Environmental Protection Agency, ERCOT, MATS| Tagged | Leave a comment

Rise of Clean Energy Staff Mirrors Texas' Renewable Energy Boom

The Brazos Wind Farm, also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas. Source: Wikipedia

The Brazos Wind Farm, also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas. Source: Wikipedia

At one point, not too many years ago, Environmental Defense Fund’s Austin office boasted just four employees total. In those days, I used to joke that if we ever reached 10, we’d be really big.

Well, this October, the Austin office surpassed 50 people, now making it the fourth largest EDF office.

It hit me one morning this summer when I walked into a staff meeting and realized I needed to introduce myself.

We’ve come a long way and I feel very proud to be a part of a team that’s not only talented and successful, but also increasingly diverse; the team is starting to look a lot more like America. We're better staffed to handle environmental challenges and opportunities than at any point in our history.

The growth of the Clean Energy staff – of which 12 are housed in Austin – mirrors the explosion in solar and wind power in Texas and across the United States. Read More »

Posted in Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind| Leave a comment

Texas, Start Your Green Freight Journey with EDF

By: Jason Mathers, Senior Manager, Supply Chain Logistics

green freight edfMany leading companies are creating business value today by cutting carbon emissions from freight moves. These companies, such as Walmart, Ikea, Unilever, and Ocean Spray, are following a similar path, one we at EDF are calling the Green Freight Journey, a five-step framework for freight optimization projects.

As an important freight hub, Texas stands to gain tremendously from green freight strategies. Trucks in Texas move roughly 1.2 billion tons of freight every year and nearly 90 percent of all rail containers entering the U.S. from Mexico move via Texas. This high volume of freight activity is expected to rise even higher as Texas officials project that the population in 35 counties, including all of the major metro areas, will grow by more than 50 percent by 2040. Texas’ status as a national freight leader means that the Lone Star State is poised to lead the way toward green freight strategies that will cut costs and reduce emissions. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Transportation| Tagged , | Leave a comment

Understanding the Ozone Standard and Principles of Public Health

Source: flickr/tofuttibreak

Source: flickr/tofuttibreak

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a proposal to update our national air quality standards for ground-level ozone, more commonly known as smog, from the current 75 parts per billion level to 65 to 70 parts per billion. Smog is a dangerous air pollutant linked to asthma attacks and other serious heart and lung diseases. That’s why EPA is also seeking comments on establishing a health standard of 60 parts per billion, a level that would provide the strongest public health protections for Americans according to scientific record. But despite the overwhelming scientific evidence of the health benefits of a more protective ozone standard, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), publicly opposes it.

Sixty to 70 parts per billion is the health-based range recommended by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, an independent panel of the nation’s leading scientists. The panel of scientists formed its recommendation based on an examination of bedrock scientific evidence and the requirement under the law to protect those most vulnerable.

In deconstructing TCEQ’s position on ozone, one can focus on a few key elements that stray from the mainstay of accepted public health principles:

Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency, Houston, Ozone, TCEQ| Comments closed

Energy Management Can Empower Everyone Regardless of Income Level

Source: Verizon

Source: Verizon

The holidays are upon us. As we prepare to gather with our friends and family, eat too much, and lounge around watching football, many people use this time to reflect on what they are grateful for. Being able to pay one’s electricity bill probably doesn’t make most people’s list, but for many Americans, it might.

The average household spends $1,945 annually on electricity, and homes with the lowest 20 percent of income spent nearly six percent of their income on energy bills. For many households, the cost of energy remains unaffordable. To put it in perspective, compared to middle- or upper-class homes, low-income households spend about twice the percentage of their income on energy. Yet, as Greentech Media points out, “many [energy management] solutions are tailored to the biggest homes, those awash in thousands of square feet of central air with a pool pump. Other solutions are tailored for middle-class homes, such as aggressive rebates for more efficient appliances. Many apartment-dwellers, however, do not own their major appliances."

The future of smart home, energy-saving technologies is often more focused on affluent, early-adopters who benefit from innovative ways to save energy because they can afford the newest gadgets. Thankfully, these people are using their buying power to lead the way, as more demand will bring prices down for everyone. While it is important for all of us to conserve and better manage energy use, low-income individuals have the most to gain. Yet the technologies that can enable savings are often out of financial reach. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Pecan Street, Smart Grid| Tagged , | Comments closed

Clean Energy and Job Creation Go Hand-in-Hand in San Antonio

Source: CPS Energy

Source: CPS Energy

While many are prophesizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) as doomsday for the electricity sector, Texas utilities are telling a different story. The CPP will limit – for the first time ever – carbon emissions from existing power plants. One utility in particular, CPS Energy in San Antonio, “has already embraced a low-carbon strategy that anticipates this rule,” making it the most well-positioned utility in the state, if not country.

Homegrown energy, literally

CPS Energy has excelled using its commitment to create local, clean energy jobs. In its Request for Proposal (RFP) for a 400 megawatt (MW) solar energy plant, the utility included a specification for the creation of local solar jobs. And it worked. Most recently, the utility announced the launch of the Mission Solar Energy Plant – a 240,000 square foot manufacturing plant that will employ upwards of 400 San Antonians. To assist with future expansions, CPS also helped create a program at Alamo Colleges to train its future workforce for clean energy jobs and, admirably, almost one out of every five employees is a veteran. Read More »

Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Environmental Protection Agency, Green Jobs, Renewable Energy, San Antonio, Solar, Utilities| Tagged | Comments closed
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