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Vistra, The Parent Company of TXU Reports 2021 Financial Results

Vistra’s earnings report for 2021 confirms what was already known.  2020 was a difficult year for the integrated energy company like it was for virtually any electricity company with exposure to the Texas market.  On the back of the heavy financial toll taken from Winter Storm Uri, the company reported a loss of $1.2 Billion.

Vistra owns several Retail Electricity Providers in Texas including TXU and TriEagle as well as Value Based Brands which operates 4Change Energy, Express Energy and Veteran Energy.

The company also owns many power producing resources within Texas.  They have readied three new production facilities to go online before the summer.  These include:

  • Brightside Solar Facility in Live Oak County
  • Emerald Grove Solar Facility in Crane County near Midland, TX
  • DeCordova Energy Storage Facility in Hood County near Granbury, TX

Together these facilities will account for over 400 MW of production when they come online.  Additionally, the company announced the acquisition of the Angus solar development project in Bosque County.  This is a part of their Vistra Zero portfolio.

The Company highlighted their ESG accomplishments including publishing of their Green Finance Framework, an initiative to issue green financial instruments.  They also donated $5 million towards financial relief for people effected by Winter Storm Uri.

What is the difference between a Traditional Power Grid and Smart Grid

The traditional power grid is a system that consists of various elements, such as synchronous machines, power transformers, transmission lines, transmission substations, distribution lines, distribution substations, and loads. These are usually located far away from where the power is consumed and the power is transmitted through long transmission lines.

The smart grid is the internet era’s answer to the traditional power grid. It provides secured and dependable electrical service. Unlike the traditional grid infrastructure, it is a two-way communication between the utility and the electricity consumer.

The smart grid has the following elements:

  1. A modern electrical grid with information technology and communications integrated into it.
  2. The ability to communicate with, and provide new services for, all electricity customers through a two-way a communication link between a utility and its customer base.
  3. Compatibility with distributed generation resources, technologies that allow consumers to generate power for themselves.
  4. The ability to send price information and control devices, including the appliances in homes and buildings, through a two-way communication network between end users and power suppliers.
  5. Adequate levels of protection against all reasonable contingencies.
  6. Reliability and resiliency to withstand the impacts of a wide range of physical and cyber-attacks.
  7. Interoperability with the existing generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure (smart grids must be able to work alongside old infrastructure).
  8. The ability to integrate numerous types of advanced meters capable of two-way communication on the network.
  9. Reduced outage times and the ability to restore power after any incident in a very short period of time.
  10. Ability to support applications, such as demand response and advanced distribution grid management systems, capable of providing dynamic incentives and control to system operators.

The smart grid will reduce energy bills

With the smart grid businesses and home owners will be able to increase or decrease their energy usage in real-time based on the current demand for electricity in their area and the current price of electricity through a concept called demand response.  This can result in smaller electric bills.

Demand response is a program that allows customers of an electric utility to reduce their electricity usage during peak hours. The smart grid will allow for two-way communication between the customer and the electric utility, which will make this process easier. Customers will be able to receive price information and control devices, including the appliances in their homes and buildings. This will help to save electricity and reduce the load on the power grid.

Appliances, devices and cars will come programmed with the ability manage this dance of price and demand for you. Imagine a dishwasher that waits for electricity rates to drop before it comes on.

The smart grid will support more efficient use of solar power

The smart grid is necessary to support growth in solar energy. Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular, and the smart grid will be necessary to manage the influx of solar power. The smart grid will allow homeowners with rooftop solar panels to have a day-to-day impact on the amount of solar energy they wish to generate. It will also allow those with home solar panels to benefit from supplying electricity into the grid at certain times, and then drawing it back out during peak hours.

The smart grid will help electric utilities reduce power outages

The smart grid has the ability to reduce outage times and restore power after any incident in a very short period of time. This is due to its improved reliability and resilience. A smart grid integrated with smart devices and appliances can rebalance electricity demand and load in real-time. The smart grid is also able to withstand the impacts of a wide range of physical and cyber-attacks, which makes it more secure than the traditional grid.

How long will it be until Texas transitions to a smart grid

Texas is currently in the process of transitioning from a traditional electrical grid to a smart grid. It will transform how to buy electricity as well as how you use it, manage it, and maybe even produce it.  There will not be a single moment when the grid goes from traditional to smart.  The technology is already enabling innovative products such as prepaid electricity plans.

The grid will constantly be evolving until the transition is complete. The goal of the transition is to make sure that all Texans have access to electricity that is cheap and reliable It will take place in phases over several years.

The first step in transitioning to a smart grid was laying out what exactly should be included in a smart grid including the ability to support applications, such as demand response and advanced distribution grid management systems, capable of providing dynamic incentives and control to system operators.

Exploring Long-Term Energy Trends in the United States

The 2021 Energy Information Administration (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook report offers a snapshot into current and long-term trends in American energy behaviors. The ongoing pandemic has undoubtedly skewed recent data, with many consumers experiencing increased electricity rates due to the pervasive work-from-home culture. Looking beyond the pandemic, what can energy companies and individuals expect in the next few years — and even decades? Some of the most notable predictions suggest a major shift in types of fuel used to generate electricity as well as a significant generational change in consumer choices toward more energy-efficient options.

Fossil Fuels Take a Back Seat but are Still Along for the Ride

Energy experts are already witnessing a decline in fossil fuels, specifically coal, within the U.S. electricity landscape. In many states, especially in Texas, natural gas and coal, while still the dominant players in the state’s electricity market, are experiencing significant competition from renewables. A decade ago, 37% of the power that Texas electricity providers distributed was coal-generated. Today, at least three of the coal-fired facilities have closed. In general, the U.S. will likely experience increased production in natural gas, largely for industrial purposes and international export. However, natural gas use in the U.S. residential sector won’t experience much growth at all; improvements in energy efficiency will diminish the demand for natural gas heating and electric use.

Climate Change Burdens the Energy Grid

Devastating weather events are on the rise, unfortunately. Wildfires out West, winter storms down South, and massive hurricanes along the coasts are par for the course each year. Should these trends continue, scientists predict an increased burden on the energy grid. Heating and cooling needs in response to severe temperature changes will challenge both power’s reliability and energy rates. One can hope that as coal’s prevalence ebbs and renewables grow, severe weather events will stabilize. Nonetheless, electricity providers are encouraged to invest now in preventative measures to better protect the grid in response to climate change.

future electricity grid

Renewable Energy on the Rise

Renewable energy, especially wind and solar, presents a key player in the U.S. energy market’s future landscape. The EIA predicts that the electric grid’s reliance on renewable energy will double over the next few decades. Texas consumers are already benefitting from a massive initiative in wind power; the Lone Star State has invested billions to better integrate Texas electric companies and the wind industry. The U.S. Department of Energy describes wind power as a low-cost option for electricity generation. Texas electricity rates and rates around the country will likely decrease if more renewables are integrated within the grid. Expect more and more electric companies to offer renewable options for consumers seeking to decrease their carbon footprint. Currently, if one were to compare electricity rates, selecting renewable offerings doesn’t guarantee cheap electricity, but as technology improves, renewable energy rates will become much more affordable.

Consumer Behaviors Lean Towards Energy Efficiency

Long-term data suggests that individuals are opting for more energy-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles. Starting in 2030, the EIA predicts a sharp increase in electric-battery-powered vehicles, though gasoline will remain the largest contributor for passenger vehicle fuel. Within the home, more and more Americans are selecting smarter technologies that save money long-term on utility bills, like thermostats and kitchen appliances. Millennials and Generation Z, in particular, are overwhelmingly concerned with climate change, leading to more environmentally-conscious consumer decisions as these populations age and their decisions affect the economy.

Why Does The State of Texas Use So Much Electricity

Texas consumes more electricity than any other state in the country. Electricity consumption rates in Texas are among the highest in the world, and it’s not uncommon for Texans to pay large electricity bills even though the cost per kWh is low compared to other locations. Texans like to run their air conditioners year-round, and hot summers often lead to increased demand for power from homes and businesses alike.

Residential electricity usage in Texas

In the Summer of 2018, Texas was the leading producer of electricity in the U.S., generating more than 132,000 megawatts of electricity. This means that about 30% of all power generated in the U.S. came from Texas. This trend continued through 2021 and expected to continue through 2022 and beyond. The abundance of land in the state allows for the building of larger homes. This combined with the heat of Texas summers leads to a large per capita consumption of residential electricity. Despite this, electricity in Texas is not expensive when compared to other parts of the country. The increasing price of natural gas has been a contributing factor in increasing electricity rates in the Lone Stare state recently. Looked at over the loner term, however, the competitive nature of the Texas electricity market has kept electricity rates cheap when compared to other states who use large amounts of electricity such as California or New York. Looking forward, analysts predict that Texas will continue to have abundant sources of cheap electricity because of its large and growing base of wind and solar electricity.

Texas Population Growth and the Demand for Electricity

Recent years have seen net population migration into the state of Texas. People have been leaving California and moving west to take advantage of the many things the state of Texas has to offer. The growth in Texas population is increasing the demand for electricity. The state uses so much electricity because of the high levels of use during the summer months when Texans are out and about, cooling off in air-conditioned living spaces.

Industrial Energy Usage in Texas

Industrial facilities in Texas use vast amounts of energy. In fact, the total energy usage is equivalent to the electrical needs of over 15 million homes.

Industries account for 54% of power usage in Texas, which equates to about 150 million megawatt hours per year.

In Texas, the largest energy consuming industries are the oil and gas industry, manufacturing, followed by transportation. The top five industries in Texas are the oil and gas refining industry, metal fabrication, petrochemical manufacturing, food manufacturing, and electric utility service providers. These industries combined account for over 75% of industrial emissions in Texas.

Renewable Energy in Texas

Power generation plays an important role in reducing pollution caused by the various industries in Texas. Texas has the largest wind energy capacity in the United States and is one of the biggest producers of electricity via wind energy in the world. The state’s Big Bend region produces more than 3,000 MW of power which is more than any other state.

While the state’s solar industry is not huge, it is growing rapidly. The combination of available land and near year-round sunshine make the state the perfect location to host solar farms. And the large rooftops of homes in Texas population centers like Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth are increasingly adorned with rooftop solar panels.

Big State, Big Industry Means Big Power Demand

Texas uses a lot of electricity because it’s large and growing population and healthy industrial base. Add that to the fact that Texas’ southern location makes it one of the warmest state’s in the country and it’s no surprise that the state consumes so much energy. Despite that, the state is largely energy independent given the large amount of fossil fuels it produces and it’s independent electricity grid. Texas is the only state in the continental US with its own separate electricity grid.

 How Plausible is an All-Renewable Electric Grid in the US?

Is the key to tackling climate change really as simple as ‘electrifying everything’. According to Vox, and many others, it is. 

Electrifying everything in this sense means that all means of energy production should be replaced with an electrical alternative (if at all feasible). Sounds great, but we aren’t quite there yet and will still have to burn natural gas to generate the majority of our electricity need (about 35% according to 2018 numbers).

Vox goes a step beyond this in another article and says that it’s economically plausible to run the U.S. entirely on renewable energy by 2050, citing this projection, among others. The authors of that Energy & Environmental Science report believe that Wind, Water, and Solar (WWS) energy will prevail and be robust enough to generate zero-carbon energy. And although there are criticisms about just how reliable most of that renewable energy would be, those same experts actually agree that the grid will be more secure with renewable grid modeling.

But there’s so many complexities at play that span all political, logistical, and technological corners of the country. Additionally, over-generation and duck curves are a commonly-posed problem with renewable energy. 

Let’s explore some solutions for facilitating this all-renewable vision for the U.S. energy system as a whole.

Some Solutions: Larger Scales, Increased Storage Facilities, and Microgrids

 

Let’s ignore the incredibly dense and mind-boggling policy considerations and Congressional cooperation that would need to take place to enact this global green initiative for energy. Instead, let’s explore some smaller scale solutions.

This article by David Timmons, which was featured on TechXplore, offers some insights on the importance of how cost has an inverse relationship to how large the scale of the project is. As an example, this is what he says about scalability, “in the United States, large-scale solar farms can be more than 1,000 times larger than residential rooftop systems and about half the cost.”

Switching gears, microgrids can also inch the U.S. much closer to a renewable grid. Through smaller, more flexible grids, power outages are less a threat because there are always back-up systems in place. In addition, more energy is saved because about 5% of all electricity is lost through longer transmission lengths, according to the EIA. So microgrids can be a game-changer if they are utilized strategically with key points of high renewable energy generation. 

Lastly, better battery capacity means less wasted energy. And because there is an over-generation problem with renewable energy, storing excess electricity is key for efficiency and can mean a more robust electrical grid. Using the ‘duck curve’ as an example, solar energy hits points of peak production and then obviously falls off during the night time. Better batteries can minimize the wasted electricity. 

How Solar Power Technology Can Reduce Your Energy Costs And Carbon Footprint

Solar power technology is bringing light to America’s energy future. The DOE estimates that there is now enough solar power being generated every year to power 3.2 million average American homes. Energy from the sun is clean, sustainable and not harmful to our environment. Plus, you can save money by reducing costs on your energy bill. With electricity rates going up, it’s the right time to consider making the switch to solar energy.

Isn’t it great that today, solar power technology is available for a wide range of indoor and outdoor applications? The sun is a renewable energy source, and we can harness the energy to convert it into electricity. You can use the power of the sun for literal power and to heat your home. It’s a great source for lighting—you’ll find a wide range of solar-powered outdoor lights in use for residential and commercial purposes, from decorative landscape fixtures bringing beauty to yards to SMART LED street lights that keep people safe. You can use solar energy to heat a pool or hot tub and not worry about soaking up a steep energy bill. And, with the availability of car solar panels to power an electric car, there’s a bright road ahead. Also, with solar power technology becoming much more efficient and economical, it’s becoming easier than ever to reduce emissions and our carbon footprint by making the switch to solar.

In Texas, you can choose a green energy plan that is best suited for your needs. With the ability to compare the best programs and green energy providers, making the switch is a breeze. You can choose green energy providers that offer a variety of plans. Plus, some programs provide bill credits when your usage is at a specific kWh. There are month-to-month variable rate plans with no contract and no early termination fees available, or you can lock in a fixed rate and reap the benefits of enjoying clean, renewable energy at the same price month after month.

How solar impacts your bill

We can capture and harness solar energy through passive and active solar energy systems. According to the Department of Energy, heating consumes about half the energy of the average home, but you can cut this cost in half by using passive solar heating and cooling. This strategy uses a home’s location and materials to economize energy use. Where your home is positioned plays a big part in how it allows the sun to enter in the winter and block it in the summer. Water heating, your home’s second-biggest energy cost, can also be done more efficiently by using solar power. Start with an energy audit before pursuing any solar installations so that you can identify your most efficient potential improvements.

So, how does solar power technology impact your bill? If you have solar power systems installed in your home, it can drastically reduce your monthly electric bill over time. Utility rates may change at the drop of a hat. When you purchase solar power technology for your home, you are in control of your energy costs. Of course, you will need to buy a solar panel system, so there are initial upfront costs. The good news is that solar photovoltaic panels now cost half of what they did in 2011, a trend the DOE seeks to advance with a $53 million research initiative.

If you’re leasing or renting a place, you can still go green. The alternative is to select a 100% renewable energy plan from a green energy service provider in your area.

How solar affects the environment

It’s no secret that using fossil fuels is dirty and expensive. Extracting and using fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas is harmful to our environment. It’s time to act quickly. The earth’s temperature is rising much faster than expected. By 2030, the earth could be getting warmer by 1.5C degrees, and while that may not seem like much, this slight temperature change is enough to destroy up to 90% of the coral reefs on our planet. Sea levels are rising, causing floods and significant damage worldwide.

There is still hope for our future. We can turn to our natural resources and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Solar power is clean and abundant. So, when you choose to install solar panels or switch to a green energy plan, you’re also doing your part to improve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions—you’re getting your energy from non-polluting solar energy systems/power plants, which do not produce dangerous emissions.

We can make a positive change by switching to renewable energy. It’s not just people that are converting to solar and other renewable energy sources. Companies are, too. There’s still time to turn things around. We can give our planet a chance and keep our lifestyle intact by building a low carbon economy that can mitigate the effects of climate change.

 

How Renewable Energy Companies Can Lower Your Monthly Business’ Electric Bill

Are you a business owner that wants to go green and save money? It’s easier than ever now that Texas features Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Thanks to these new standards, electric companies are required to increase their use of renewable energy. There’s no getting around the fact that your business needs commercial electricity. It used to be that business owners had no choice in providers. These days, small, medium and large-sized companies can opt for a provider that aligns more closely with their philosophy.

When you think of how Texas acquired its fortunes, oil and natural gas come to mind. Today, the Lone Star State has become a leader in developing renewable energy. Wind power has been particularly useful for our state. It makes sense — after all, anyone that has ever lived or visited Texas knows that we have some of the windiest areas in the U.S. The good is that technology can convert wind power into commercial electricity.

There is a growing desire to use renewable energy in Texas. The cost of wind and solar power is falling at a steady pace, which allows clean energy companies to offer lower prices for businesses. And with an uptick in newer renewable energy production, the time is right for businesses to demand solar and wind power from clean energy companies.

Clean energy companies with cheap commercial electricity rates

Clean, renewable energy companies in Texas are creating competition. And, since most of Texas is a deregulated energy market, the competition for new customers is high. There’s even more good news. By 2025, the average price for power should be 9% lower than today’s rates. With lower natural gas and electricity prices, consumers are reducing their use of energy from coal, oil and natural gas-fired plants. This reduction is resulting in better air quality in Texas — it’s good news for the environment and your bank account.

Top renewable energy companies that offer commercial electricity plans

Using wind and solar to power your business is smart energy. Any company can take advantage of adopting a clean energy plan. You can enjoy cleaner power without having to install a solar power system or a wind turbine on your property. The rise of social media has put more pressure on many companies to think about going green. Companies are adopting sustainability goals, which can save money by lowering their costs on materials, expenditures and energy use.

Companies can choose from the best clean energy providers. TriEagle Energy offers a variety of plans and term lengths. Other top renewable energy companies include Direct Energy, Champion Energy Services and Cirro Energy. The best way to find out which of the top renewable energy companies are best suited for your business is to contact us by phone or by filling out our form. Vault Electricity works with Texas’ best clean energy companies to get you the best rates. We will be glad to help you select a green energy provider in your area, and find the best commercial electricity plan for your situation.