Category Archives: Wholesale

HB 1600 – Sunset Review of the Public Utility Commission of Texas: Keep It Clean

AECT Supports HB 1600 by Cook. See below for key provisions of the bill.

Overview of Key Provisions (read the full bill here)

  • HB 1600 continues the operations of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) for 10 years.
  • HB 1600 prohibits any PUC Commissioner from working for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for two years after leaving the PUC.
  • The bill allows the PUC to issue cease-and-desist orders in cases where the Commission determines that the conduct of a person poses a threat to continuous and adequate electric service; is hazardous; creates an immediate danger to public safety; or could cause immediate injury that monetary compensation could not rectify.
  • It also includes due process provisions in the cease-and-desist process, giving affected persons up to 30 days to request a hearing, which then must be held within 10 days.
  • The PUC will review ERCOT’s proposed annual budget and authorize the administrative fee to recover ERCOT’s approved costs.
  • HB 1600 also moves water and sewer ratemaking authority from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to the PUC; water and sewer small consumer representation moves from the TCEQ to the Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel (OPUC).

AECT Position on HB 1600:

PURA provides a solid regulatory framework, and AECT supports the continuation of the PUC for another 10 years as proposed under the Sunset review legislation.

HB 994 – Extending Deadline for Nuclear Generation to Qualify for Decommissioning

AECT Supports HB 994 by D. Bonnen

Background

  • Texans today are served by an electricity system that boasts a diverse resource base – fossil, renewable and nuclear – a reliable mix that works as a hedge against regulatory and economic swings. Future citizens of Texas deserve to enjoy those same benefits and, for new nuclear generation to have a future role in ERCOT, the Legislature must act.
  • In 2007, the Texas Legislature passed HB 1386 to ensure that new nuclear generating projects in Texas’ competitive electric market can satisfy Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requirements for issuance of a Construction & Operating License.
  • In a traditional regulated electricity market, the cost to decommission – that is, to deconstruct – a nuclear plant at the end of its operating life, is borne by captive ratepayers through rates approved by the PUC.
  • In the ERCOT competitive market, the nuclear project owner must bear the decommissioning cost. NRC requires a decommissioning funding mechanism which is provided by the program established by HB 1386. It established a state funding program for decommissioning that meets NRC requirements and adequately protects customers.
  • Subsequent to passage of HB 1386, a PUC rulemaking set up the administrative rules necessary to implement the statute.

Issue

  • Project construction must begin before January 1, 2015 in order for a proposed nuclear project to qualify for the HB 1386 program. At the time HB 1386 was passed, it was anticipated that one or more proposed projects would meet this requirement. However, due to recent international industry events, the current economic environment, and low natural gas prices, no proposed projects, nor any future projects that may take advantage of breakthrough technology, will meet this construction deadline requirement.

AECT Position: Support HB 994

  • HB 994 extends the construction deadline until January 1, 2033, preserving the option for development of economically feasible nuclear generation in ERCOT. HB 994 makes no other changes to the program established by HB 1386 nor the subsequent PUC rules implementing the program.

 

ABACCUS Report Cites Texas Electricity Market Design Most Successful in North America

In the Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS) report  released by the Distributed Energy Financial Group LLC (DEFG), Texas was once again found to be the top competitive market in North America. From the release:

The report identifies North American electricity markets that have successfully restructured to allow direct access or consumer choice and explains the policy choices that led to those successes.

“In Texas we refuse to rest on our laurels and have every intention of remaining number one by continuing to add features in our nation’s leading electricity market,” said Donna L. Nelson, chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas. “We keep finding ways to increase customer value in the marketplace through smart grid innovations and ongoing improvements in the shopping experience, just to name a few.”

DEFG found in its research that the Texas retail electricity market is very competitive for all customer classes. Texans in competitive areas are engaging in the market in record numbers and making choices to meet their energy needs. The depth and breadth of retail electricity offers is unparalleled in Texas. Approximately 40 retail energy suppliers compete for residential customers in competitive areas of the state by offering a broad range of products and services designed to meet customers’ needs.

DEFG also noted the innovation in the ERCOT competitive market:

Texas continues to see a surge in consumer‐driven product and service innovation. New smart grid infrastructure investments – advanced meters, mobile communications and control devices, and in‐ home usage displays – allow entrepreneurial retail energy suppliers to develop innovative pricing and service choices.

Read the full release here.

ERCOT Briefing on Latest Challenges & Opportunities

ERCOT President and CEO Trip Doggett spoke today at a legislative staff briefing held by AECT, covering several issues including: resource adequacy, wind generation, demand response and the status of generation following last summer’s drought. Click here to download his presentation from the ERCOT website. It’s also presented below to view online.

EPA data: NO2 and SO2 emissions decreasing rapidly

Based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency, total emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide have fallen substantially since 1980. But what’s especially telling is that those total emissions plummeted between 2008 and 2010, showing a far larger decrease.

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In addition to the long-term decreases in these emissions, this data also shows that NOx emissions fell by 20% between 2008 and 2010, while SO2 emissions fell by 30% over the same period. This is partially due to lessened energy usage during times of limited economic growth nationwide, but electric generators have also made billions of dollars in investment nationwide to reduce emissions.

Electricity 101: January 2012 Update

For 2012, we’ve updated Electricity 101, our comprehensive overview of the electric markets in the state. It includes updated information on the wholesale market, retail market, transmission and distribution activities and growth in renewable generation. It also includes a helpful overview of the legislative history that created competition in ERCOT, plus explanations of the differences between regions.

The presentation is shown after the jump, but you can always find the latest version of Electricity 101 by clicking the tab above.

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John Fainter in the Statesman: Challenges for reliable power ahead in region

“Texas’ ongoing drought — and despite rains, it continues — has put terrific pressure on many aspects of our economy, not the least of which is the electric power industry. The challenge is unprecedented for an industry that has been one of the most reliable parts of the state’s economy for decades.

“The most immediate concern is whether dwindling water supplies will hurt electric generators’ ability to produce the power we need. Texas continues to add homes, hospitals, factories and offices statewide, not to mention other energy-intensive services like irrigation, drinking water treatment and wastewater treatment.”

Click here to read the rest of AECT’s John Fainter in the Statesman.