01/26/14

Hole In The Ground Helps Texas Company Cash In

andrews nuclear wasteWaste Control Specialists of Andrews, Texas is alone in the “hole in the ground” industry, otherwise known as nuclear waste disposal.  The company has constructed a huge pit for storing nuclear waste that is going live to companies who need a way to get rid of all of their excess waste from their nuclear power production.  With the high demand in the state for energy, nuclear power plants are working overtime, and that means more waste.  Waste Control Specialists knows that that waste must go somewhere.

In their hole in the ground, space goes for $10,000 for a cubic foot.  While the company pockets 3/4 of the money from the project, the other fourth go to the state and the county where the hole is located.  From all over the country, this hole is the only place where low-level waste can be taken, which begs the question:  Why aren’t more companies offering this service?

01/23/14

San Antonio Gets New Solar Farm

solar-panels-texasA $110 million dollar investment by OCI Solar has led to construction of a new solar farm located just  a few miles south of San Antonio.  The new solar farm is called Alamo 1 and is quite large.  It spans 453 acres and consists of 167, 000 solar panels. Alamo 1 has the capacity to generate 40 megawatts which is enough energy to power more than 6,000 homes in San Antonio.

Alamo 1 recently began its operation and will generate energy during San Antonio’s peak hours of energy usage.  OCI Solar will sell the energy generated by the solar farm to to CPS Energy.

Alamo 1 is the first of a series of solar farm projects by OCI Solar.  Upon completion of all the solar farm projects, it is expected that they will together generate 400 megawatts of energy.  The locations of the other solar farm projects have not yet been revealed.

01/23/14

Renewable Energy Subsidies Not As Effective As Originally Thought

wind-farm-texasThe rapid increase of wind farms in the United States and especially Texas is due largely to renewable energy subsidies.  The subsidies are currently the most popular policy instrument used to lessen carbon dioxide emissions and will likely continue due to the lack of absence of national climate legislation.  Studies have, however, revealed that these subsidies are not as beneficial as we may have thought.

The study conducted by Washington University revealed that in order for the wind power subsidies to be beneficial, the social cost of carbon dioxide emissions has to exceed $42 per ton.  The current social cost for carbon dioxide ranges between $7 and $81 and the projected cost for 2015 ranges from $12 to $116 per ton.

Texas electricity rates have been held below the national average, prompting many Texas voters to lean towards keeping the subsidies in place.

Although wind energy is emission free and reduces the output of fossil fuel generators, the emission rate of fossil fuels that is offset by wind energy relies heavily on which generators reduce their output.

01/21/14

Top Texas Energy Headlines In 2013

texas shaped flagA look back at some of the biggest Texas energy headlines of 2013.

Texas Oil and Gas
The oil and gas industry experienced a bonanza in 2013 that rose to levels that were unseen since the 70s. Federal data also revealed that the state doubled oil production and contributed more than one third of of the country’s oil production.

Pipelines
Despite ongoing litigation between TransCanada and local landowners and questions about the integrity of the Keystone XL Pipeline, oil began flowing through it in the latter part of 2013.

The Texas Railroad Commission
The agency was given an additional four years to preside over the regulation of the Texas’ gas, oil and pipelines amidst skepticism about its relevance and performance.  The agency was also permitted to use some of the fees amounting to millions of dollars to upgrade their computer and software system in order to improve their capacity.

 

01/21/14

Does Texas Rely On Electricity From Wind Power Too Much?

tx wind energyThe winter vortex spun the wind turbines in the state of Texas at near-record rates.  However, that does mean that some people are not skeptical about how much wind power should be used in the state.  According to some, wind power is just no reliable enough.

After there was a close brush with the entire power grid of the state failing, wind power helped to save the day, but wind power only accounts for about nine percent.  During the power shortage, wind was only accounting for 3.2% of all the power usage in the state.  While that small percentage was important on that one day, people understand that win is not totally reliable.

While ERCOT could move more wind turbines to places where wind is forecast to be strongest, those forecasts are not 100% accurate either.  Changing the face of the energy industry in Texas could start with wind power, but it appears that wind power can never be the whole future of Texas energy.