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Lower Corporate Taxes Mean Lower Electricity Rates For Texas

Texas electricityThe Texas PUC is pushing the state’s utilities to pass through some of the benefits of the recently passed corporate tax cuts in the form of lower electricity rates.

Retail electricity is deregulated in Texas. However, the transmission and distribution utilities that deliver electricity around the state are still subject to the state’s oversight.

Oncor, the state’s largest distribution utility which covers Dallas, Fort Worth and much of North Texas, has already agreed to pass all of the millions of dollars of expected tax savings along to consumers.  Oncor agreed to pass the savings along to customers as part of a rate review which is a formal process in which the PUC reviews the appropriateness of rates being charged by the utility.  No exact details have been determined with respect to how the savings will be passed along. The rate review was actually completed before the tax reform bill was passed but there was a commitment in principle to passing along the savings.  It’s not yet know exactly how much Oncor will save from the lower corporate tax rates but with a $245 million tax bill in 2017 future saving are likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Several of the state’s other electrical utilities have also agreed to pass along the savings to consumers.  These include Southwestern Electric Power Co., and El Paso Electric.  Centerpoint, which is responsible for delivery to the Houston area, has yet to specifically commit to lowering electricity rates in response to the tax cuts.

TDU fees in Texas appear as a pass thru item on consumer’s electric bills.  They are the same for any consumer within the delivery area regardless of the Retail Electricity Provider serving the address.  Lowering these pass thru fees will lower the effective electricity rate for millions of Texas rate payers.

Texas Sets Another Record For Wind Power

Texas Wind EnergyTexas has set a new record for electricity generated from wind.  On November 27th 2016, the ERCOT system saw more than 15,000 megawatts of electricity provided to the grid from wind turbines.

The amount represented about 45% of the spot demand for power in the grid in the afternoon.

“We saw high wind output throughout the day, ranging from just over 10,000 MW during the late night hours to this peak output during the noon hour,” said ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin. “Over the years, ERCOT has taken a number of steps, such as improving renewable generation forecasts, to allow us to operate the grid reliably on days like this.”

During the period, total output from wind approach the system capacity of 17,000 MW.

See Also: Wind Energy Provides Cheap Electricity In Texas

 

Electricity-Related Complaints Continue Downward Trend In Post-Deregulation Texas Market

ERCOTOver the last fiscal year Texans filed 4,835 electricity-related inquiries or complaints according to the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power. This represents a significant drop from the previous post-deregulation low set last year, where the Public Utility Commission registered 6,973 inquiries or complaints. Data from the PUC shows a drop across nine different categories of complaints, with only one category seeing an increase. The data from this year confirms the on-going trend of higher responsiveness and customer satisfaction in Texas’s deregulated retail energy market.

A Continuing Trend Based On Increased Customer Satisfaction

The almost 31% drop in electricity-related inquiries and complaints registered between 2015 and 2016 is the second largest drop so far recorded. Two of the main factors influencing this trend are lower energy prices and a growing familiarity with the conditions and providers of the deregulated market. Also, two major sources of complaints, Sharyland Utility and the installation of advanced meters, are no longer the source of as much dissatisfaction among customers.

The PUC registered a fall in almost every category of electricity-related complaints over the 2015 fiscal year. This falling rate of complaints includes a number of major categories of complaints, such as provision of service complaints, meter complaints and complaints related to switch-holds, the blocking of electric service for residences.

The data for 2015 suggests that customer satisfaction continues to see significant improvements across the state of Texas. The last three fiscal years in particular are registering increasing levels of customer satisfaction. While the data still shows a higher number of inquiries and complaints than pre-deregulation levels, the strong and on-going trend suggests that levels may soon approach their pre-deregulation lows.

See Also: Electricity Sales Continue Multiyear Decline

 

Natural Gas To Surpass Coal As Source Of CO2

Natural gas is expected to soon surpass coal as a source of CO2.  As natural gas continues to replace coal as a fuel for the production of electricity for the nation’s electric grids, the total amount of emissions coming from natural gas activity will pass that of coal in 2016.

coal nat gas and CO2

Energy related CO2 emissions from natural gas are expected to exceed that of coal by 10% in 2016.  The total amount of electricity generated by natural gas reached record highs in the U.S. in July of 2016.  The nearly 5,000 gigawatts per day surpassed the previous record in 2015 by around 9%.  This was due partially to high temperatures as well as the continuing price advantage of natural gas over coal.  For the year, electricity from natural gas is expected to account for around 34% of power output compared to 30% for coal.

As ever tightening federal mandates force coal plants to either modernize or shut down, coal based electricity output has been in a multi-year down trend in the US.  This is expected to continue in the years to come. Much of this lost production has been replaced by renewable sources of power such as solar and wind.  The latter is particularly the case in Texas.

This all comes on top of another trend that has seen overall electricity sales declining thanks in part to greater energy efficiency in residential construction as well as federal energy efficiency mandates.  Lower peaks in electricity demand tend to favor cleaner sources of power. Coal and natural gas are considered more responsive sources of power generation and more likely to be ramped up in times of greater peak demand.

Electricity Rates

The gradual shift of electricity production away from coal and toward natural gas and renewable sources of power has not put upward pressure on electricity rates.  The national average for electricity for July 2016 was 13.0 cents per kwh.  By comparison, a 12 month electricity plan can be found for 6.3 cents per kwh in the Dallas, Texas area as of the time of this writing.

 

4 Ways To Boost Your Office’s Energy Efficiency

light bulb electricity buttonAlmost 20 percent of energy consumed in the United States derives from commercial buildings, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reports.

Seeking and implementing energy-saving solutions within your office building not only reduces the amount of energy consumed, but also saves money on maintenance and supplies, while providing additional comfort and health and safety benefits. Here are the top four ways to boost your office’s energy efficiency.

Switch to Cloud Computing

By storing and accessing data online rather than on a computer hard drive, your office will reduce its energy consumption, saving up to $12.3 billion on energy bills worldwide and eliminating 85.7 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year by 2020. Leaving local storage and in-house computing behind, cloud computing has the potential to reduce energy usage worldwide by 38 percent before 2020.

According to a study done by Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy, this means switching over could reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 90 percent for smaller, less efficient businesses and 30 percent for larger, more efficient ones. Companies like Mozy make it effortless to switch over to cloud computing, providing your office with worry-free cloud data protection, backup computers and servers, and 24/7 support for when you need it most.

Invest in Energy Star Electronics, Appliances

When you see an Energy Star label, you can be confident the product meets strict energy efficiency requirements set forth by the EPA. This step helps you save money, while providing you with the high performance you need as a consumer.

For your office, invest in Energy Star-labeled computers, monitors, printers and copiers that have been designed to boost energy efficiency, with functions like automatic low-power mode. According to the EPA, Energy Star-labeled electronics save U.S. companies and consumers $1.8 billion in annual energy costs. In the kitchen, upgrade all your appliances, including your refrigerator, dishwasher, coffeemaker and microwave, to their Energy Star alternatives.

Invest in Smart Lighting

More than half the energy consumed inside commercial buildings is done through heating and lighting the office. Reducing consumption begins with taking advantage of natural lighting, ensuring windows are unobstructed and sunlight is flowing in to illuminate your space. In instances when natural light is unavailable, adopt smart lighting solutions throughout your building to reduce energy usage.

Switch compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, to LED bulbs. Not only do LED bulbs have a longer lifespan, but they also are more durable and prevent heat buildup, which reduces the energy used to keep the office cool.

Upgrade the HVAC System

When all the telltale signs are pointing to replacing your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, upgrade to an energy-efficient model that will greatly reduce energy usage and costs within your office building. If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old or requires frequent repairs, switch to an Energy Star model and reap cost savings between 10 percent and 40 percent from your energy bill.

In addition to energy and cost savings, everyone in the office will enjoy an extended comfort zone, increased thermal comfort and improved air quality.

Become More Energy Efficient With These New Tools

electricity efficientThe U.S. Energy Information Agency reports our electricity is generated from the combined consumption of 36 percent petroleum, 27 percent natural gas, 18 percent coal and only 9 percent renewable resources. One way to reduce this heavy reliance on fossil fuels is to save on electricity wherever you can. The following household gadgets will help you reduce your energy use and make your home more energy efficient:

Pick Your Power Provider

Because you live in a state where you can choose from a number of energy providers, you can find one that uses renewable energy to generate your electricity. Vault Electricity makes it easy to select a plan that is 100% green.

Programmable Thermostats

High-tech thermostats have been around for several years. Most allow you to set a particular temperature for a particular time of day. The Nest thermostat does that but also “learns” by recording the adjustments you make throughout the day. Set it to learn for a week as you turn the thermostat up or down, then allow it to do that for you automatically. It also connects to your home network so you can control it from a laptop or mobile device. If you have a variable schedule, turn it down when you leave the house then turn it back up with your smartphone as you’re leaving class.

Controlling the Vampires

Every home has a number of energy vampires. These are devices that continue to consume electricity even after they have been shut off (or roommates who always forget to turns things off). Televisions, stereos and gaming systems are big energy vampires. The solution has been to unplug these devices when not in use. Now the Belkin Conserve Power switch provides another way with a device that goes between the device and the outlet. This switch cuts off power to any device that tries to draw a small current when turned off. Now you can enjoy those video game marathons with peace of mind.

Recharging Control

If you own a smartphone, chances are you can relate to squeezing ever last ounce out of your battery’s life. College campuses have a way of sucking batteries dry, but you can stay green as you charge them up. Mashable recommends the Bracketron Stone GreenZero Charger. When recharging mobile devices, they continue to pull a charge once they have reached 100 percent. The Bracketron device shuts off the electricity completely once a mobile device has fully charged.

Check the Lights

It can be a challenge to make sure that lights are turned off when someone leaves a room. Lutron offers motion sensor switches that replace existing wall-mounted light switches. These are specifically made for smaller spaces such as closets, laundry rooms, bathrooms and utility rooms. The money you save on your electricity bill can fund your late-night trips to the student cafeteria.

Complete Home Control

Home power monitoring and control systems, such as the one by Vantage, allow you to see what is consuming power in your home and at what rate. You can monitor each electrical outlet for how much it is used. Control lights, thermostat and appliances from a console on your computer or an app on your mobile device. Now you can expose the roommate who is responsible for most of the electrical bill.

 

Coal’s Importance To Texas Electricity Continues To Decline

smokestackThe use of coal to generate electricity in Texas continues to slide.  Just ten years ago, half of the electricity in Texas came from the burning of coal.  Today, coal only contributes 20%.

Why the huge drop off?  The two main factors are natural gas and wind energy, with solar and hydro also playing a part.

Texas is by far the largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., more than doubling the production of the #2 state, Pennsylvania.  Texas is now producing so much natural gas, that a pipeline is being built that will send a significant amount of natural gas to Mexico to be used by their electricity generators.

Texas also produces more electricity via wind energy than any other state.  There have already been days when the state saw more electricity produced from wind than from coal.

It is expected that by 2020, more than half of all coal-burning power plants in Texas will be shuttered.