GRID: The Texas House gives preliminary approval to a bill to strengthen the state’s electric grid, require infrastructure upgrades, improve oversight, and add more requirements for natural gas facilities, although critics say it still doesn’t go far enough. (Austin American-Statesman, Texas Tribune) 

ALSO:
• Texas Republicans rebuff Democrats’ attempts to accelerate weatherization requirements for natural gas wells, processing plants and pipelines that don’t fall on the “electricity supply chain map” the state Senate’s power bill would create. (Dallas Morning News)
• The CEO of a Virginia transformer company looks back on the company’s 50-year history and the grid’s shift from fossil fuel generation toward renewables. (Roanoke Times)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Louisiana lawmakers consider a bill to end tax credits for electric and hybrid vehicles. (CleanTechnica)

SOLAR:
• Ozarks Electric Cooperative partners with an Arkansas school district and private company to build a 2.4 MW solar array with 7 MW of battery storage that will provide 95% of the electricity for three schools. (Talk Business & Politics)
• West Virginia becomes the 29th state to allow solar power purchase agreements, opening a door for renewables in the historically fossil fuel-reliant state. (The State Journal)

COAL:
• Georgia Power’s Plant Scherer, the largest coal-fired plant in America, and its plants on the Chattahoochee River fuel concern about the dangers of toxic coal ash to nearby residents. (Atlanta Intown)
• Duke Energy considers converting six North Carolina coal plants into pumped-heat energy storage systems. (Natural Gas Intelligence)
• The Sierra Club and West Virginian environmental groups argue in a lawsuit that the state’s coal mining reclamation funding system is broken and needs to be fixed immediately. (Grist)

OIL & GAS: Dominion Energy upgrades its pipeline infrastructure and compression system in western North Carolina to support the conversion of Duke Energy’s Lake Julian power plant from coal to natural gas. (Asheville Citizen Times)

OVERSIGHT: Texas lawmakers consider legislation to create new standards for petrochemical tanks after a 2019 chemical fire. (Texas Tribune)

UTILITIES:
• Local officials in West Virginia call on state lawmakers and regulators to stop requested rate increases by Appalachian Power and West Virginia American Water. (WOWK)
• Dominion Energy says it will continue a pause on disconnection for nonpayment of bills and offer credits to ratepayers who may qualify for back-payment forgiveness. (WTVR)

PIPELINES: West Virginia experts say the Colonial Pipeline hack is a wake-up call for businesses to invest in cybersecurity. (Herald-Dispatch)

COMMENTARY:
• Federal lawmakers ignore the real-life impacts of the Colonial Pipeline’s shutdown and the February storm that resulted in at least 150 deaths by treating an infrastructure bill like a partisan board game, writes a columnist. (Virginia Mercury)
• The Tennessee Valley Authority’s plans to shift from a historic reliance on coal to a reliance on natural gas is a “big gamble” that gas won’t become more expensive than it is today, write two members of Tennessee’s Sierra Club chapter. (Leaf Chronicle)
• A columnist draws a link between Duke Energy’s expansion of natural gas infrastructure and the global effects of climate change. (Greensboro News & Record)

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.