Texas Tribune: Natural gas prices down, generation up; what about investments in new power plants?

The Texas Tribune recently did two stories on the state’s electric market. One story by Kate Galbraith cited a report by Potomac Economics, the independent monitor of the state’s electricity market, which showed Texas’ coal-fired power generation was 30 percent lower in January 2012 compared to January 2011. The report noted that nuclear power generation also fell, while wind and natural gas generation increased.

Galbraith quoted Potomac Economics’ Dan Jones, explaining that low natural gas prices have fueled (forgive the pun) the increase in natural gas-fired electricity at the expense of some of the more costly coal-fired power plants.

The other story on the Tribune’s website by Mose Buchele for National Public Radio’s StateImpact Texas segment explains how low natural gas prices might be one of the reasons companies are not investing in new power plants. Since about half of the state’s electricity is generated by natural gas, low prices mean lower electric bills. But as Buchele reports, low electric prices also make investing in new generation less attractive.

Both stories provide great information and insight into Texas’ electric market and how the state’s regulatory agencies, the Public Utility Commission and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, work with the state’s utilities – investor-owned and municipally owned utilities and member-owned co-ops – to provide reliable, affordable electricity.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit online media outlet that covers public policy, politics, government, energy education and numerous other topics important to all Texans.

About Will Holford

Have you ever wondered about the future of electric use? Perhaps you’re curious about how some global or national events might impact your power, the environment or your bill? Maybe you’re just interested in what’s going on at Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. We want to share what we know, and that’s what the Bluebonnet Blog is about. Will Holford, Bluebonnet’s Manager of Public Affairs, is going to write most often for the blog. He’s been with the co-op since 2007, and has worked in communications for more than 14 years. Will enjoys learning about energy – and writing about it. He and other Bluebonnet employees (and occasional guest contributors) will get the conversation going -- about everything from where your power is generated to where it’s used, advances in technology, changes that will affect you, and interesting peeks behind the scenes at the co-op. We welcome your comments, questions and ideas. Email Will at will.holford@bluebonnet.coop.
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