TEXAS: The death toll from February’s storm and outages has reached at least 194, nearly twice the official count and four times more than initial reports. (Houston Chronicle)

ALSO:
• Texas Gov. Greg Abbott nominates the head of a construction trade group to a regulatory board that oversees the state’s electric grid. (Texas Tribune)
• Lawmakers in the Texas state house follow suit with the state senate in passing a series of bills that would require power plants to be weatherized and to reform oversight of the state’s power grid. (KEYE)
• The customers of a bankrupt Texas company who paid soaring rates for wholesale electricity during February’s outages are named as creditors in its ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. (Dallas Morning News)
• Texas officials who falsely blamed the electric grid’s February failure on renewable sources pulled some of their talking points from a for-profit think tank known for its fossil fuel advocacy and climate change skepticism. (Mic)

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COAL:
• A federal judge orders West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and one of his family-owned coal companies to pay a Pennsylvania coal exporter $6.8 million after failing to fulfill a 2017 agreement. (Associated Press/Bristol Herald-Courier)
• Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam asks state lawmakers to use money saved from eliminating a longstanding coal tax credit to fund expansion of college programs in the southwestern part of the state. (Roanoke Times)
• Speakers clash at the second public hearing this week over Alabama Power’s plan to bury coal ash in place at the Gaston steam plant rather than move the toxic material. (WABM)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Orlando leaders and regulators announce a plan to install 100 electric vehicle chargers at more than 30 sites around the city. (Spectrum News 13)

SOLAR: A company announces it will build a facility with 50 MW of solar and 190 MW of energy storage in Virginia as part of an effort to replace the Birchwood coal plant with cleaner energy. (Renewables Now)

UTILITIES:
• North Carolina regulators approve a smaller-than-requested rate hike for Duke Energy, as well as a coal ash settlement with the Sierra Club and state attorney general’s office. (WUNC)
• Florida regulators approve a rate increase for Florida Power & Light due to a spike in natural gas prices. (Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Dominion Energy asks Virginia regulators to increase its profit from 9.2% to 10.8%, prompting criticism from a clean energy group. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
• A Virginia town announces plans to resume charging late fees and disconnections for unpaid utility accounts. (Northern Virginia Daily)

CLIMATE: The University of North Carolina Asheville becomes the first UNC school to commit to going carbon-neutral by 2050. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

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PIPELINES: A national story on the planned 49-mile Byhalia Connection pipeline in Memphis brings renewed intensity to the fight over the project’s path through Black neighborhoods that has been criticized as environmental racism. (CBS News, WREG)

COMMENTARY:
• The oil industry’s spread across the South and West during the early 20th century collided with post-Civil War “Lost Cause” ideology and establishment of “Jim Crow” laws in ways that embedded white supremacy within the sector, writes a climate reporter. (DeSmog Blog)
• Texas should reject Berkshire Hathaway’s plan to build 10 new natural gas plants as a “ham-handed,” expensive and ineffective response to February’s winter storm and resulting outages, writes an editorial board. (Dallas Morning News)
• Texas lawmakers should reject two bills that place blame for February’s outages on renewable energy and seek to hamper its growth, writes an editorial board. (Beaumont Enterprise)
• Kentucky regulators should reject a utility’s request to dramatically lower credits paid for rooftop solar power as a major setback to the solar industry and the state’s clean energy future, writes a retired public official and climate advocate. (Courier Journal)

Mason Adams

Mason has worked as a journalist since 2001, covering Appalachian communities and the issues that affect them. He compiles the Southeast Energy News digest. Mason previously worked as a wildlife biologist before moving into journalism by freelancing at Coast Weekly in Monterey, California, before taking an internship in 2001 at High Country News. He wrote for the Enterprise Mountaineer in western North Carolina and the Roanoke Times in western Virginia before going freelance in 2012. His work has appeared in Southerly, Daily Yonder, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, WVPB’s Inside Appalachia and elsewhere. Mason was born and raised in Clifton Forge, Virginia, and now lives with his family and a small herd of goats in Floyd County, Virginia.