The Brief: Rift Opens Between Oil, Electric Interests on Market Overhaul

Transmission lines near Sweetwater that will connect windy regions of the state to major population centers.
Transmission lines near Sweetwater that will connect windy regions of the state to major population centers.

The Big Conversation

The Public Utility Commission's proposed changes to the electric market gained a powerful detractor in recent days: the Texas Oil and Gas Association, the state's oldest and largest petroleum organization.

As reported by the Tribune's Jim Malewitz, TXOGA sent a letter to the PUC last week saying it opposed creating a capacity market "that would pay electricity providers billions of dollars to maintain excess generating capacity." The move also opens a rift between the influential petroleum group and the electric utility industry, which backs the capacity market model.

TXOGA asserted in its letter that the PUC did not have the authority to embark on a market redesign and that a capacity market would not work as intended. Instead, more efforts should be made to take advantage of "smart grid" technology, TXOGA argued.

The Day Ahead

•    The Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday morning in an online defamation case.

•    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is in Arlington to lay out the first part of her education platform at a roundtable with Texas educators and school administrators.

 

•    Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will lay out his education interim charges at a luncheon appearance in Dallas at the Annual North Texas Governor's Association Luncheon benefiting the United Negro College Fund.

•    GOP lieutenant governor candidates Todd Staples, Dan Patrick and Jerry Patterson are expected at a candidate forum in Williamson County hosted by the Republican Club of Sun City at 6 p.m.

•    The Texas Public Policy Foundation policy orientation continues in its second day. Keynote speakers are former U.S. Sen. and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Today in the Trib

Providers Face Obstacles in New Women's Health Program: "Unlike family planning clinics, physician groups generally don't have the funding to provide low-income women with the free or subsidized services that aren't covered by the state-run Women's Health Program."

Income Gap Could Take Toll on Texas, Book Says: "As Texas’ rapid growth continues to be fueled by an increase in the Hispanic population, Hispanic and black Texans are likely to keep lagging socioeconomically behind whites, leading to a poorer and less competitive state, according to a new book."

Oil and Gas to PUC: Don't Overhaul Energy Market: "The Texas Oil and Gas Association, the state’s largest and oldest petroleum organization, has told regulators it opposes an overhaul of the wholesale energy market."

Houston Boosts Energy Efficiency in New Homes: "The Houston City Council on Wednesday approved changes to its building code requiring that new homes be more energy efficient."

Must-Read

How the Payday Loan Industry Works Regulators from the Inside, Texas Observer

 

Wealthy donors gather at Dallas lawyer Lisa Blue Baron’s home for Wendy Davis fundraiser, The Dallas Morning News

Texas A&M System vice chancellor Terry Fossum resigns, Bryan-College Station Eagle

House Republicans Preparing Plan for Immigration Overhaul, The New York Times

Falkenberg: Where oh where does Dave Wilson live?, Houston Chronicle

Scrutinized Texas parks agency plans historic hire, The Associated Press

Quote to Note

“In case Chairman Sessions’ sarcastic comment (i.e. – bah humbug!) was misunderstood as a policy shift, let there be no doubt – he supports a full repeal of ObamaCare.” — Torrie Miller, spokeswoman for Dallas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, walking back a remark in a House Rules Committee hearing that some interpreted as abandoning attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act

News From Home

Big things are happening with The Brief as we move to a format ideally suited for your smartphone, tablet, flying drone, etc. Everything you need to keep you in the know as you start the day. Sign up today!

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Regional premiere of Watershed followed by a panel discussion at Stateside at the Paramount on 1/15

•    Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, candidate for lieutenant governor, at the Austin Club on 1/16

•    A Conversation on Our Nation's Future Featuring U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan in San Antonio on 1/23

•    Comptroller candidate Debra Medina at the Austin Club on 1/30 

•    Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, candidate for lieutenant governor, at the Austin Club on 2/6

•    Sen. Kel Seliger and Reps. John Smithee and Four Price at West Texas A&M in Canyon on 2/7

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.