Archive for February 16th, 2011

Oak Grove coal fired power plant was one of the plants that caused rolling blackouts in Texas on February 2, 2011ERCOT just released an updated list of all of the power plants that were not operating Feb 2, contributing to the power shortages that caused the rolling blackouts.  That document is here, but we present the data below for your convenience.

Notice a trend? Natural gas and Lignite coal were the main power sources that couldn’t cope.

Meanwhile, the wind really saved our bacon. And since wind companies’ standard operating procedure is to bid into the market at $0 for their extra capacity (no fuel charge, so it doesn’t cost them anything to turn on the extra turbines if the wind is blowin’: unlike a gas plant that has to, you know, pay for their gas. Assuming they can get gas, that is.) wind did not contribute to the high prices of energy or manipulate the market.

For an even more in depth rundown, please see our testimony our Deputy Director, David Power, gave in front of a special joint session of the Senate Business and Industry and the Senate Natural Resources Committees.

PS- Sorry if the formatting on this list is hard to read- we tried as best we could to get all the data on here. (more…)

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State Rep. Warren Chisum, a Republican from Pampa, Texas plans to seek a place on the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), either by gubernatorial appointment once Michael Williams resigns in April or by running for the seat expected to be vacated next year when Elizabeth Ames Jones declines to seek re-election because of her aspirations to the U.S. Senate.

The 72-year-old lawmaker has served in the House since 1989 and is an oil and natural gas producer and rancher who began his career on oil drilling rigs and in truck yards.  A key lieutenant of former Speaker Thomas Russell “Tom” Craddick, Sr., and an active candidate in the ill-fated attempt to unseat Speaker Joe Straus at the beginning of the current session, Chisum has not had a committee chairmanship since Tom Craddick was toppled in 2009.

Recent recommendations from the Sunset Advisory Commission call for changing the name of the agency to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission and restructuring it to be governed by a single statewide elected official who would serve a four-year term concurrent with the governor and the other major statewides.  Chisum disagrees with the move to change the RRC from a three member elected commission to a single elected commissioner.

If he does enter next year’s Railroad Commission primary, Chisum starts with a heavy “war chest.”   His current report on file with the Texas Ethics Commission shows him with more than $632,000 cash on hand.

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A California utility, Southern California Edison, has selected 250 MW worth of solar bids from companies able to produce solar electricity for 20 years for less money annually than the 20 year levelized cost of combined-cycle natural gas turbine power plant energy.

The utilities bidding process for smaller renewable projects is a smart move. These small projects do not face the multi-year bureaucratic delays for extensive reviews, like most utility-scale solar in California, so each small unit can be built as quickly as normal commercial rooftop solar projects. They are made up of multiple distributed solar installations of under 20 MW, which in combination total a power plant-sized 250 MW.

The utility already gets more than 19% of its electricity from renewable sources, placing it in the lead to reach California’s Renewable Energy Standard requirement to get 20% of its electricity from renewables (which specifically excludes large hydro and nuclear) by 2013.

Using a bidding process, SCE has made renewable energy companies compete to offer the lowest price for supplying electricity through its Renewable Standard Contract, which has a requirement that the renewable energy be priced to cost no more than the Market Price Referent (MPR) – an annual calculation of the 20 year levelized cost of energy of a combined cycle gas turbine.

SCE says that they received over 2.5 GW – 2,500 MW – of offers from solar companies eager to supply solar power for less than the cost of gas which at this time is in the 11 cent range. 

This year, the solar bids are below the MPR, meaning that they cost less than the annual cost of getting the same amount of electricity from natural gas over the same time period.

For California, a renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) is keeping prices down for consumers.  A non-wind RPS in Texas could do the same for this state, and give solar the boost that the 2005 RPS gave the wind energy industry in Texas, taking the state from a few hundred MW of wind to 10,000 MW in just a few short years.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Texas Mail-in Rebate Program

If you’ve considered participating… 

Funds are still available for the Texas Appliance Mail-In Rebate Program. Texas has already approved over $12 million in rebates and funds are limited, so act soon!

Funding for the program is available to Texas residential consumers on a first-received, first-issued basis according to the application’s postmark date until funds are depleted. 

  • You can check available rebate funds to see daily updates on the estimated rebate funds remaining. As funds near depletion, we will issue a notice of closure on our website.
  • Review the Rebate Eligibility Program Rules and search eligible appliance models before you purchase and install an appliance.
  • To be eligible for a rebate, program rules require that you remove and properly dispose of your old appliance. In doing so, you have one of two options to choose from: Recycling or Disposal

    NOTE: If you do NOT have an existing appliance to recycle/dispose of, OR if you keep, gift, donate or sell your old appliance, you will NOT be eligible for an appliance or recycling rebate.

  • Completely fill out an Official Rebate Application Form (PDF, 116KB), including the “Disposal/Recycling Information,” and submit according to program rules.
If you’ve already mailed in an application…
  1. It may take up to eight weeks to review and approve your application. You can check your rebate status online or call toll-free (855) 556-1312.
  2. Double check your application form to make sure it was filled out completely and accurately. An incomplete application form is the most common error; you may have overlooked something as simple as selecting the check box for “Option One: Disposal” vs “Option Two: Recycled.” You may resubmit missing information to ensure your application is processed. Please write your Rebate ID number on all resubmitted forms and supporting documentation. Check your rebate status online or contact customer service to retrieve your Rebate ID number.

    NOTE: If you do NOT select an option under the “Disposal/Recycling Information” section, then “Option One: Disposal” will automatically be selected for you and you will NOT qualify for the additional $75 bonus recycling rebate.

For other program questions, please see the Texas Comptroller’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), contact customer service or call toll-free (855) 556-1312.

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