TEXAS: At least 57 people died — most of them from hypothermia — during last month’s winter storm and resulting power outages in Texas, according to state health department data. (Texas Tribune)

ALSO:
• The last of the three members on the board that regulates Texas’ state grid resigns at the governor’s request. (Texas Tribune)
• A representative for a financial market operator discourages Texas lawmakers from retroactively lowering last month’s wholesale electricity prices because doing so could rattle investors and shake the state’s “open for business” reputation. (Austin American-Statesman)
• The apparent halt of a bill to retroactively lower energy overcharges frustrates Texas lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. (S&P Global, Texas Tribune)

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UTILITIES:
• Tampa Electric Co. mobilizes its lobbyists to support a Florida bill that would prohibit localities from banning natural gas hookups — and which would support the electric company’s sister natural gas firm. (Tampa Bay Times)
• The president of New Orleans’ city council wants an independent audit of Entergy New Orleans after its troubled start to 2021, including power outages and alleged mismanagement of a nuclear facility. (The Lens)
• Delays to approving an already negotiated contract means Memphis might bid out its electricity supply and eventually face the question of whether to leave the Tennessee Valley Authority. (Commercial Appeal)

COAL:
• U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and other Democratic senators introduce a bill to lighten the burden of proof for families of miners who die from black lung disease to access benefits. (Associated Press)
• West Virginia lawmakers advance a bill to allow utilities to seek expedited cost recovery for pollution control measures, ostensibly propping up the coal industry while potentially escalating rates for customers. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• Two early 20th-century hotels that supported the coal industry in southern West Virginia have been awarded historic preservation grants to save them from deterioration. (Herald-Dispatch)

OIL & GAS:
• Louisiana officials say the state’s oil and gas industry is in danger after President Joe Biden cancels a March oil lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. (KLFY)
• Renewed attention on methane as a potent greenhouse gas throws Texas Permian Basin oil fields under additional scrutiny as a prime emitter. (CNN)
• A company that planned to build a crude oil export terminal off the Gulf Coast loses its lease, throwing its plans into jeopardy. (Corpus Christi Caller Times)

PIPELINES: A Mountain Valley Pipeline extension into North Carolina is opposed by Oklahoma-based Transcontinental Pipeline because it would use eminent domain to merely follow the path of its existing Transco line, according to court filings. (Roanoke Times)

SOLAR:
• The U.S. solar industry’s rapid growth is illustrated by a French oil giant that is investing in 16 solar farms, including nine located in Texas. (Houston Chronicle)
• An Arkansas school district uses the money it saves through solar power to give its teachers raises. (KRIS)
• Duke Energy touts the hundreds of construction jobs that would be temporarily created by one of its 74.5 MW solar plants in Florida. (Citrus County Chronicle)

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WIND: Duke Energy announces it has achieved operation of a 350 MW wind farm expansion in Oklahoma. (North American Windpower)

COMMENTARY:
• The appointment of two new progressive members to Virginia’s three-member utility regulatory commission marks an important step in the commonwealth’s transition to a clean-energy economy, writes a state delegate. (Roanoke Times)
• Electric vehicles carry plenty of downsides and the passage of a new law incentivizing their use in Virginia carries unforeseen complications, warns a state editorial board. (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

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.