UTILITIES: Texas lawmakers draw close to approving roughly $7 billion in ratepayer-backed bonds to deal with the financial fallout from February’s winter storm. (Texas Tribune)

ALSO:
• Energy industry observers are surprised at Dominion Energy’s withdrawal of its Virginia resources from PJM’s regional electricity market over a federal order making it difficult for renewables to compete against fossil fuels. (Virginia Mercury)
• The CEO of San Antonio’s city-owned electric utility says a rate increase “is an inevitability” that could come later this fall. (San Antonio Report)
• A Democratic objection kills a Texas state bill targeting Austin that would have given large retail customers five years to appeal city-charged electric rates. (Austin American-Statesman)

GRID:
• Texas lawmakers near agreement on energy reforms after February’s winter storm, but neither Republican-controlled chamber shows support for requiring natural gas suppliers to prepare for extreme cold. (Houston Chronicle)
• Experts say avoiding another Texas grid disaster will require rethinking its market-driven system that favors efficiency and lower prices over reliability. (Houston Chronicle)

OIL & GAS:
• A startup company that says Royal Dutch Shell rebuffed its $1 billion offer for a Gulf Coast refinery now wants to build a stand-alone refinery for $2 billion. (The Advocate)
• The United Steelworkers and ExxonMobil dispute a contract at a Beaumont, Texas, oil refinery as the broader oil and gas industry moves to cut labor costs. (In These Times)
• A Tennessee lawmaker and local official say they’ll press for noise mitigation at a bitcoin-mining site that’s generated complaints from nearby residents. (WREG, Johnson City Press)

COAL: West Virginia regulators approve renewal of a permit for a steep-slope surface mine despite concerns over its environmental and health effects. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

SOLAR:
• An Arkansas city completes the first phase of a solar project to provide 80% of its municipal power but struggles with obstacles that have set back the project’s next steps. (Press Argus-Courier)
• The Choctaw Nation hires a company to install solar arrays for 20 homes in an Oklahoma community. (KOCO)

TRANSITION:
• A Kentucky coal miner and a South Carolina pastor of a Black church connect over leading their communities to wrestle the climate issues of environmental justice and just transition. (CBS News)
• Virginia’s energy agency opens comments for a legislative initiative to diversify the economy of the state’s coalfields after lawmakers repealed key coal tax credits. (Kingsport Times News)
• West Virginia lawmakers balk at the International Energy Agency’s call for investors not to fund any new coal, oil or natural gas projects to reach emissions reduction goals. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

NUCLEAR: A former official who helped oversee the construction of a now-abandoned $9 billion South Carolina nuclear plant pleads guilty to lying to a federal agent in a multi-year criminal investigation. (Post and Courier, subscription; News & Observer)

EMISSIONS:
• City officials in Bristol, Virginia, struggle to monitor and repair a gas leak and concentrations of benzene at a landfill. (Bristol Herald Courier)
• An eastern Kentucky oil refinery emits benzene at levels that jumped 233% from 2019 to 2020, arriving at 11% above the EPA action level. (WMKY)

COMMENTARY:
• Ford’s electric F-150 could push electric vehicles from a curiosity on West Virginia roads into widespread use, writes an editorial board. (Huntington Herald-Dispatch)
• President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan looks like a lot like a down payment on the debt owed to West Virginia for fueling the United States’ global rise as a superpower, writes a newspaper editorial. (Beckley Register-Herald)
• The onus for calling for coal communities to move away from fossil fuels toward clean energy falls on mayors and other local leaders, writes a Virginia editorial board. (Roanoke Times)
• Three recent events — Texas’ storm-driven grid shutdown, the Colonial Pipeline hack and a bridge crack found over the Mississippi River — show vulnerabilities in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, write a team of reporters. (Bloomberg)

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.