Southeast Energy News

Texas grid catastrophe was years in the making, experts say

TEXAS: The energy crisis in Texas was years in the making, say experts, who point to extensive deregulation and its standalone electric grid as primary factors that set the state up for disaster. (Bloomberg, New York Times) 

ALSO:
• As President Joe Biden approves a disaster declaration, Texas officials call for utilities to “winterize” infrastructure, citing a decade-old legislative report that was never implemented. (Reuters, KXXV, Politico)
• Texas officials are accused of ignoring warnings in the days, months and years before last week’s power grid collapse. (Associated Press)
• Texas regulators will temporarily ban disconnections as some customers are socked with soaring bills; one city paid nearly as much in the past week as it had budgeted for the year. (Reuters, Associated Press, Denton Record-Chronicle)
• Two companies that already hold more than 70% of the power market in Texas could consolidate even more in the wake of the crisis. (Houston Public Media)

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UTILITIES:
• New Orleans will scrutinize Entergy’s rolling blackouts as it also considers shifting the power for its sewer and water system to the utility. (NOLA.com)
• A power company spokesman says Florida isn’t likely to suffer the massive outages that Texas did because Florida regulates utilities more intensively and because it has learned from past incidents. (Palm Beach Post)
• South Carolina’s governor wants state regulators to investigate and report on the grid’s vulnerability to ice storms and other winter events. (Post and Courier)

COAL: A third-generation, family-owned coal equipment company in southwest Virginia shifts its business to serve the energy storage industry. (Energy News Network)

OIL & GAS:
• Oklahoma regulators suspend fracking operations after an earthquake in the northern part of the state. (E&E News, subscription)
• Oil prices edge up as Texas producers assess the damage from last week’s cold snap, which could take weeks to recover from. (Reuters)
• The process of restarting frozen oil and gas wells is tricky and complicated, especially at sites that may have suffered mechanical damage. (Bloomberg)
• West Virginia’s gas and coal industries react cautiously to the governor’s proposal to create a tiered severance tax system based on market prices. (The State Journal)

SOLAR:
• Florida solar installers complain that utilities are pushing state regulators to adopt policies to scale back rooftop solar or get rid of it all together. (WMFE)
• Members of a central Kentucky community organize against “industrial solar” after a county adopted an ordinance allowing larger, utility-scale projects and fueling concerns about loss of land used for agriculture. (Ohio Valley ReSource)
• Last week’s outages across Texas may inspire more homeowners to invest in rooftop solar and battery storage. (Quartz)

CLIMATE:
• A new study aims to quantify the amount of carbon sequestered in Louisiana’s wetlands and develop a way to calculate benefits from coastal restoration projects as the state aims to meet carbon neutrality goals. (NOLA.com)
Gulf Coast refineries and petrochemical plants released tons of air pollution amid last week’s emergency shutdowns. (Reuters)

PIPELINES:
• Congress eyes reforming the process for pipeline approvals, as federal regulators rejected just six out of 1,021 proposed projects over 20 years without hearing a single landowner appeal. (Sierra)
• A federal appeals court rejects a lawsuit by environmental groups seeking to block construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. (E&E News, subscription)
• An interstate natural gas pipeline in Mississippi ruptured over the weekend, prompting evacuations. (WHBQ)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Virginia lawmakers advance a bill that would mandate state car dealers sell a certain percentage of electric or hybrid vehicles beginning in 2024. (Associated Press)

COMMENTARY: Massive power outages across the Southeast last week should generate new energy around a national infrastructure package, including modernization of the electric grid, writes a newspaper editorial board. (The Advocate)

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