Tribpedia: Energy

Tribpedia

Texas has long been a leader in the nation's energy industry. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Texas is the largest petroleum refiner in the U.S., and produces more than three times the natural gas than any other state. The Comptroller's Office reports tax revenues from energy production and use, particularly oil and gas, have ...

Read More...

Race for Railroad Commissioner Revives Overhaul Talk

Steve Brown (l.) and Ryan Sitton, Democratic and Republican nominees for Railroad Commissioner.
Steve Brown (l.) and Ryan Sitton, Democratic and Republican nominees for Railroad Commissioner.

Several thwarted legislative proposals to overhaul the Texas Railroad Commission — the state's curiously named oil and gas regulator — have resurfaced in the race for an open seat on the commission, illustrating key differences between the candidates' priorities.

Sheep wander between rows of solar panels at at a 4.4-megawatt solar farm in northeast San Antonio. OCI Solar Power, the farm's operator, uses the sheep – and their voracious appetites – to maintain shrubbery on the 45-acre site.
Sheep wander between rows of solar panels at at a 4.4-megawatt solar farm in northeast San Antonio. OCI Solar Power, the farm's operator, uses the sheep – and their voracious appetites – to maintain shrubbery on the 45-acre site.

Sheep Power: Texas Solar Farm Employs Lamb Landscapers

Operators of a 45-acre San Antonio solar farm have turned to sheep – not lawnmowers – as a low-cost, low-effort way to control overgrown shrubbery that might otherwise impede the company's technicians. Sheep grazing is not a widespread practice at Texas solar farms, but it has been utilized elsewhere, particularly in California and parts of Europe.

Chris Schein of Oncor stood with one of the company's new batteries at Oncor's Environment System Operating Services Facility near Lancaster on June 12, 2014.
Chris Schein of Oncor stood with one of the company's new batteries at Oncor's Environment System Operating Services Facility near Lancaster on June 12, 2014.

Texas a Testing Ground for Energy Storage

Spurred in part by its fast-growing renewable energy sector, Texas has become a major testing ground for what the industry has long considered its holy grail: devices that can store energy from low-carbon but intermittent energy sources like wind and the sun. While still decades away from gridwide use because of high costs, batteries are gaining attention as technology improves.

Gov. Rick Perry has said that a new federal proposal to cut carbon emissions is "the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans."
Gov. Rick Perry has said that a new federal proposal to cut carbon emissions is "the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans."

What Texas Could Do to Follow Climate Change Rules

Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas leaders say a federal proposal to combat climate change is a direct assault on energy providers. This Tribune analysis examines what Texas and its energy providers would have to do to reach the goals set forth in the proposal — if that proposal stays as is.

Pipes used for fracking are shown in front of a Fasken OIl and Ranch drilling rig outside of Midland on Oct. 8, 2013.
Pipes used for fracking are shown in front of a Fasken OIl and Ranch drilling rig outside of Midland on Oct. 8, 2013.

For Texas Royalty Owners, Not All Money Comes Easy

For landowners and mineral owners in Texas’ hottest drilling plays, the state’s boom means long-lasting windfalls — if those lessors know what to look for in negotiating contracts. With new educational efforts, advocates for royalty owners hope to bolster their position.

Each day, dozens of trucks hook up to the Gulf Coast-run fracking fluid disposal well site near Gonzales, Texas.
Each day, dozens of trucks hook up to the Gulf Coast-run fracking fluid disposal well site near Gonzales, Texas.

Railroad Commission Sides With Driller on Well Protest

UPDATED: The Railroad Commission on Thursday sided with Marathon Oil Company’s bid to dismiss a groundwater conservation district’s protest of its application to inject waste into part of South Texas’ Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer.

Gov. Rick Perry is shown on Nov. 15, 2013, at an Austin kickoff rally for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's re-election campaign.
Gov. Rick Perry is shown on Nov. 15, 2013, at an Austin kickoff rally for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's re-election campaign.

In Letter, Perry Faults Obama's Energy Policies

In a letter sent Friday to President Obama, Gov. Rick Perry accused the president of waging a war on coal and kicking the can down the road on the Keystone XL pipeline. Perry suggested that Washington should follow Texas’ lead in spurring energy production.

The Rolling V Ranch in Wise County, Texas is home to power transmission lines built by Oncor. The owner, Johnny Vinson says one stretch of the new lines are not built where Oncor promised to build them.
The Rolling V Ranch in Wise County, Texas is home to power transmission lines built by Oncor. The owner, Johnny Vinson says one stretch of the new lines are not built where Oncor promised to build them.

North Texas Rancher's Power Line Battle Gains Attention

UPDATED: The Texas Public Utility Commission on Friday heard oral arguments in the case of a Wise County rancher protesting a power line that he says was built in the wrong place on his property. Landowners and utilities say that the case could have far-reaching implications for how power lines are built. The commission is poised to vote on the line’s fate on May 30.

Modular concrete canisters containing nuclear waste are shown at the bottom of a storage pit near Andrews, Texas.
Modular concrete canisters containing nuclear waste are shown at the bottom of a storage pit near Andrews, Texas.

WCS's Hiring of Legislative Aide Draws Ethics Concerns

Betsy Madru, state Sen. Kel Seliger's former legislative director, now works for Waste Control Specialists, which runs a low-level radioactive waste site in Seliger's district. She says she understands why some would have questions about her move, but she added there was nothing improper.

TribLive: Keeping the Lights On in Texas

Full video of our panel discussion in San Antonio on the future of Texas' electric grid with Trip Doggett, president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas; Marita Mirzatuny, project manager for the Environmental Defense Fund’s U.S. Climate and Energy Program; John Fainter Jr., president and CEO of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas, Inc.; and Doyle Beneby, president and CEO of CPS Energy. 

Daniel Ortuño, who manages the 1.5 million drilling records stored at the University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology, examines well data in what he calls the "spooky room," home to thousands of records that he has not yet organized. State water researchers are using information from some logs to map potential water sources.
Daniel Ortuño, who manages the 1.5 million drilling records stored at the University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology, examines well data in what he calls the "spooky room," home to thousands of records that he has not yet organized. State water researchers are using information from some logs to map potential water sources.

Old Drilling Logs Help Researchers Map Brackish Water

As drought grips most of Texas, researchers are combing the state's 1.5 million drilling records to map brackish water in the state's 30 aquifers — hidden resources that could help quench the state’s long-term thirst.

A Tesla Model S. The California-based electric automaker had considered Texas for its $5 billion lithium-ion battery factory. The company is also hoping to sell cars in Texas but does not have required franchise dealerships, as state law requires.
A Tesla Model S. The California-based electric automaker had considered Texas for its $5 billion lithium-ion battery factory. The company is also hoping to sell cars in Texas but does not have required franchise dealerships, as state law requires.

Regulations Could Harm Texas' Bid for Tesla Plant

Tesla, a manufacturer of high-end electric cars, has named Texas one of four finalists to house its planned $5 billion lithium-ion battery factory. But the state's auto dealership laws  — among the nation's strictest — could hurt its chances, company officials say.

The lesser prairie chicken roams in the circled areas above, according to research by state environmental officials and scientists.
The lesser prairie chicken roams in the circled areas above, according to research by state environmental officials and scientists.

States' Plan to Save Rare Bird Stirs Debate in Texas

Environmental officials in five states, including Texas, say surging interest in a plan to save the lesser prairie chicken should persuade the federal government not to list the bird as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. Energy companies, developers and landowners say such a designation could threaten economic development in West Texas and the Panhandle.

Hugh Daigle, assistant professor in the University of Texas at Austin's Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, is the lead researcher on a federally funded project investigating methane hydrates.
Hugh Daigle, assistant professor in the University of Texas at Austin's Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, is the lead researcher on a federally funded project investigating methane hydrates.

Hugh Daigle: The TT Interview

The University of Texas at Austin professor of petroleum and geosystems on the idea of tapping methane hydrates — an abundant source of natural gas found in rocks buried deep beneath the ocean's surface. Methane hydrates are expensive-to-extract volatile compounds about which much is still unknown.

LCRA's Max Starcke Dam, just east of Marble Falls, Texas. It is one of six dams the agency operates.
LCRA's Max Starcke Dam, just east of Marble Falls, Texas. It is one of six dams the agency operates.

In Central Texas, Drought Threatens Hydropower

The ongoing drought in Central Texas is claiming an innocent bystander: hydroelectricity. As the Lower Colorado River Authority limits water releases downstream, hydroelectricity — a power source that spurred the LCRA's creation almost 80 years ago — has faded further into obscurity.

Workers with Bee Cave Drilling install a jackhammer bit on the drilling rig while putting in a water well on a private lot in Spicewood, Texas on February 6, 2012.
Workers with Bee Cave Drilling install a jackhammer bit on the drilling rig while putting in a water well on a private lot in Spicewood, Texas on February 6, 2012.

Texas Could Lead on Methane Reduction, Report Says

A report released this week says oil and gas companies could help slash methane emissions. But Texas, the nation’s top energy producer, is unlikely to lead the way. State regulators dispute the dangerousness of greenhouse gases, and some in the industry say another methane culprit is just as bad — bovine flatulence.

A shark chomps at a fish in the Dollar General parking lot. This is one of several art installations in Luling created by George Kalisek, an artist based in Moulton. Kalisek says the installations with moving parts are toughest to design, but they are his favorite.
A shark chomps at a fish in the Dollar General parking lot. This is one of several art installations in Luling created by George Kalisek, an artist based in Moulton. Kalisek says the installations with moving parts are toughest to design, but they are his favorite.

Tapped-Out Luling Turns Old Oil Wells Into Art

When an oil boom ends, rusting oilfield equipment sometimes remains as a reminder of better times. In tapped-out Luling, which sits just beyond a drilling bonanza in the Eagle Ford shale, officials have turned that notion upside down by decorating old pump jacks with colorful characters. 

A spent fuel pool at the South Texas Project Electric Generating station near Palacios. STP Nuclear Operating Company, the station's operator, is building dry cask storage to house spent fuel once its pools fill up. Because the federal government has breached its contract that guaranteed permanent waste storage, U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill, through the government's judgement fund.
A spent fuel pool at the South Texas Project Electric Generating station near Palacios. STP Nuclear Operating Company, the station's operator, is building dry cask storage to house spent fuel once its pools fill up. Because the federal government has breached its contract that guaranteed permanent waste storage, U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill, through the government's judgement fund.

Nuclear Waste Storage on Texas Lawmakers' Agenda

Following instructions from House Speaker Joe Straus, Texas lawmakers plan to study the benefits of accepting high-level nuclear waste from around the country, a controversial proposition. But even if Texas says it wants a waste facility, huge hurdles would stand in its way. 

A natural gas compressor station located near La Grange, Texas, on Jan. 29, 2014.
A natural gas compressor station located near La Grange, Texas, on Jan. 29, 2014.

Anti-Regulation Politics May Have Hurt Energy Industry

Texas' anti-regulation stance may have hurt business when the state refused to issue required greenhouse permits for almost two years. Energy companies had to delay large industry facilities that needed the permits. As a result, they say, they have been unable to take full advantage of the area's shale boom.