Tribpedia: Energy

The Rose, a nonprofit based in Houston, upgraded its building’s windows, light switches and roof, above, to make them more energy efficient.
The Rose, a nonprofit based in Houston, upgraded its building’s windows, light switches and roof, above, to make them more energy efficient.

Energy Efficiency Advocates Optimistic About PACE Program

A coalition aiming to encourage commercial and industrial property owners to invest in energy and water efficiency says it has made major progress. The approach, known as Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, addresses the biggest barrier to efficiency investments: initial costs that can take years to recoup.

Paul Baumann's property, owned by his family for generations, is directly next to a proposed drilling waste dump in the small town of Nordheim. He, along with other concerned citizens, are protesting the dump as they fear it will pollute and ruin their way of life.
Paul Baumann's property, owned by his family for generations, is directly next to a proposed drilling waste dump in the small town of Nordheim. He, along with other concerned citizens, are protesting the dump as they fear it will pollute and ruin their way of life.

Drilling Waste Site Roils Tiny Nordheim

Nordheim, population 307, is the site of one of the first organized protests in the heart of the Eagle Ford. Many of its residents are fighting to keep out a massive disposal facility for oil and gas waste — a sight that could become more common as energy producers search for places to dispose of their leftovers.

 

A worker at Mission Solar in San Antonio inspects the protective coating of a fully assembled solar panel for bubbles that could hinder efficiency. The company runs Texas' biggest solar panel manufacturing plant.
A worker at Mission Solar in San Antonio inspects the protective coating of a fully assembled solar panel for bubbles that could hinder efficiency. The company runs Texas' biggest solar panel manufacturing plant.

In Texas, Solar Manufacturer Ramps Up Production

Texas’ biggest solar panel manufacturing plant is ramping up production after becoming fully operational this summer. It’s part of San Antonio’s effort to become a solar energy hub – by building solar farms to help power the area and luring the companies that manufacture their parts.  

A 2007 state law said that "smart" meters must "be deployed as rapidly as possible" across the state.
A 2007 state law said that "smart" meters must "be deployed as rapidly as possible" across the state.

Texas Revives Low-Income Energy Efficiency Proposal

Texas regulators say they have a plan to provide low-income Texans with the tools to help them interact with "smart" meters and improve energy efficiency at their homes – tapping $18.5 million of ratepayer money long earmarked for such a program. The announcement came six weeks after the Tribune reported that the proposal had spent years in bureaucratic limbo.

Although leadership at the Texas Railroad Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often feuds, staff at each agency has found ways to work together, says Milton Rister, executive director of the Railroad Commission.
Although leadership at the Texas Railroad Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often feuds, staff at each agency has found ways to work together, says Milton Rister, executive director of the Railroad Commission.

EPA Backs Texas Disposal Well Plan

In their efforts to regulate the wells that hold Texas' oilfield waste, state officials have found a surprising ally in the federal Environmental Protection Agency, long a political punching bag in Texas. Support for the plan, expressed in a letter this month, provides a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes collaboration between two agencies whose relationship often appears icy.

Midland ISD Developing "Petroleum Academy"

Midland school officials and area businesses are excited about a planned high school program that will focus on preparing high schoolers to work in the region's booming oil industry. The program would meet new high school requirements while satisfying the job needs of the community. 

Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford on June 17.
Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford on June 17.

Drillers, but Not Fracking, Tied to Tainted Water

Oil and gas activities – but not hydraulic fracturing – tainted drinking water wells atop North Texas’ Barnett Shale and Pennsylvania’s Marcellus formation, according to a new study. High levels of methane escaped poorly constructed natural gas wells and migrated into shallow aquifers.

Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas on June 17, 2014.
Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas on June 17, 2014.

Free Speech Case Springs From Fracking Dispute

A tainted water well in North Texas has already stirred national debate about the impacts of oil and gas production. Now it stars in a free speech dispute that has landed in the Texas Supreme Court – the biggest test of a state law meant to curb attempts to stifle public protest. 

West Texas Solar Plant Comes Online

Less than eight months after breaking ground, the company constructing one of the state’s largest solar plants says it has begun harnessing West Texas’ intense rays. The project is unique because its developers – confident their electricity can compete on the open market – have forged ahead without signing an agreement that guarantees a buyer for their energy. 

 

 

Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.
Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.

Series: Bypassed by the Miracle

Check out Bypassed by the Miracle, our seven-part series on the people and communities that have missed out on Texas' economic success or are finding that it comes at a price. You can also read our related Falling Behind and Hurting For Work series.

John Ward, operations project task manager at Waste Control Specialists' facility near Andrews, Texas, walks over to inspect concrete canisters that will house drums of nuclear waste.
John Ward, operations project task manager at Waste Control Specialists' facility near Andrews, Texas, walks over to inspect concrete canisters that will house drums of nuclear waste.

Texas' Nuclear Waste Dump Gets Wiggle Room

UPDATED: Despite a last-ditch protest from a state lawmaker, Texas’ only radioactive waste site has permission to dramatically expand its capacity, take in new types of waste and reduce its financial liability should its owner suddenly close up shop.

 

 

The Boom at Rudkin Productions. The newspaper caters to bored oil workers in South Texas.
The Boom at Rudkin Productions. The newspaper caters to bored oil workers in South Texas.

Eagle Ford Sees Another Kind of Boom: Publishing

Drillers’ mad dash to the Eagle Ford has spurred a printing boom, as publishers court new advertisers and audiences — including industry executives, natives of transformed communities and oil workers with little to do in isolated towns.

Railroad Commissioners Barry Smitherman (center), David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) are shown at a Jan. 15, 2013, meeting in Austin.
Railroad Commissioners Barry Smitherman (center), David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) are shown at a Jan. 15, 2013, meeting in Austin.

Christi Craddick: The TT Interview

The Railroad Commission's new chairman on the agency's dual role as an industry watchdog and champion, the push to ban fracking in Denton and the commission’s efforts on earthquakes and disposal wells.

 

 

Lynda Stokes, the mayor of Reno, Texas, testified before the Railroad Commission of Texas on Jan. 21, 2014. She voiced her concern about an increased number of earthquakes around Eagle Mountain Lake.
Lynda Stokes, the mayor of Reno, Texas, testified before the Railroad Commission of Texas on Jan. 21, 2014. She voiced her concern about an increased number of earthquakes around Eagle Mountain Lake.

Railroad Commission Hopefuls Discuss Disposal Well Plan

Two candidates for the Railroad Commission welcomed the agency's newly proposed requirements for disposal well applications, saying they were a good first step in addressing the spate of earthquakes that have shaken up parts of North Texas.

Workers mop up tar sands oil from a creek in the wake of Exxon Mobil's Pegasus pipeline spill, Mayflower, Arkansas.
Workers mop up tar sands oil from a creek in the wake of Exxon Mobil's Pegasus pipeline spill, Mayflower, Arkansas.

Pegasus Pipeline's Partial Restart Concerns Some Texans

The reactivation of a stretch of the 66-year-old Pegasus pipeline has stirred concerns among some Texans who live along its path. Some in communities along the pipeline's path worry that an accident like the 2013 Mayflower rupture could happen in their backyards. They hope the latest step doesn't lead to reopening the entire pipeline.

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.

Race for Railroad Commissioner Revives Overhaul Talk

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.