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July 29, 2016

NextEra Energy Inc. unveils multi-billion-dollar deal to buy Oncor

Other bids possible in EFH bankruptcy for large electric delivery company

NextEra Energy Inc., which bills itself as a clean energy leader, announced today a definitive agreement to acquire 80 percent of Oncor, Texas’ largest regulated utility, as part of its purchase of the bankrupt Energy Future Holdings Corp. (EFH).

The purchaser said the deal values the total Oncor Electric Delivery Co. (including the 20 percent minority interest it is not buying) at $18.4 billion, a clear premium over the book value of its assets alone, analysts said. A newly formed subsidiary of NextEra plans to purchase 100 percent of the equity of EFH (after its spinoffs of competitive market entities including Luminant power generation and TXU Energy’s retail operations).

Oncor Electric Delivery Co., which operates North Texas’ electric delivery system, appears a hot commodity, spurring continued interest from investors led by the Hunt family of Dallas and reportedly from billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. A previous bid, under which the Hunt group proposed a controversial tax-avoiding real estate investment trust (REIT), fell through after the Texas Public Utility Commission placed conditions on the deal that made it no longer attractive to investors.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 28, 2016

Democrats on energy: forget about “all-of-the-above” strategy

Platform would cut oil, gas tax breaks and seek clean energy incentives

Standing outside a hearing room at the Texas Capitol Extension a few sessions back, a leading oil and gas lobbyist grew so agitated that his face turned crimson.

President Barack Obama, he insisted, wanted to kill all fossil fuels and not just coal. The president and his backers wanted to kill the oil and gas industry, he said, a vital life source for the Texas economy for more than a century.

Never mind that those were the days when Obama officially embraced an “all-of-the-above” energy policy.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 25, 2016

Economist forecasts hard times, despite signs of oil, gas uptick

‘Every chance’ the recovery will be ‘frustratingly slow’

Hard times persist for Texas’ oil and gas economy, suggests an analysis of the year’s first six months in the oil and gas patch.

Despite signs of modest recovery from the industry’s upstream recession, an economist who created an index to track the state’s oil and gas activity cautioned optimism.

“Even with deep declines in activity levels, oil production in Texas has been slow to respond,” said Karr Ingham, the economist who created the Texas Petro Index for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 22, 2016

Tri Global Energy: Texas’ No. 1 wind developer

‘The energy evolution is happening right now’

Dallas-based Tri Global Energy held its lead as Texas’ top wind energy developer, currently constructing one third of all wind generation projects in the state, according to the America Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) second quarter 2016 market report.

The utility-scale renewable developer is building more than 2,200 megawatts (MW) of wind generation projects in the state. That’s one third of projects under development in the state. TGE said it’s also developing a quarter of all wind projects nationally.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 21, 2016

Energy, mining buying and selling heats up in Texas

Deals announced by ExxonMobil, J-W Energy, Joy Global

Irving-based ExxonMobil Thursday announced an agreement Thursday to acquire all outstanding shares of InterOil Corp. in a deal worth more than $2.5 billion. The purchase boosts its resource base in Papua New Guinea and bolsters its liquefied natural gas (LNG) business in the country.

When concluded, the deal already approved by directors of both companies, will give ExxonMobil access to InterOil’s interests in six licenses in Papua New Guinea covering about four million acres, including PRL 15, which holds natural gas discoveries in the Elk-Antelope field. The Elk-Antelope is the anchor field for the proposed Papua LNG project.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 20, 2016

Updated: PUC Chair Donna Nelson talks to Uber driver

Indian immigrant calls power choices confusing but still makes her day

(TER editor: This update replaces an earlier posting to include answers to two questions posed to Chairman Donna Nelson, clarifications and a corrected spelling of PUC Commissioner Brandy Marty Marquez’ name.)

Texas Public Utility Commission Chairman Donna Nelson shared her recent and enlightening (pardon the pun) conversation with an Uber driver at today’s open meeting.

Her driver turned out to be a legal immigrant from India with two of his six children working in the health profession, one a medical doctor and the other an optometrist.  Then he asked her what she did.

Upon learning that his passenger worked in the electric industry – Nelson didn’t tell the Uber driver that meant as the leader of Texas’ electric regulatory agency and a champion of competitive electric markets – he complained.

“Oh, the choice is confusing!” she said he told her.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 20, 2016

W. Texas oil operators happy to see lesser prairie chicken’s delisting

Interesting bird no longer officially endangered or threatened, says FWS

The chief advocate for the West Texas oil and gas industry says it’s relieved that protectors of the lesser prairie chicken, notable for its showy mating dance, no longer pose a ‘detrimental’ threat to their own operations.

Yesterday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) formally removed the lesser prairie chicken from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The action complies with a September 2015 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in a case challenging a threatened listing under the federal Endangered Species Act by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA).

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 19, 2016

Texas manufacturers praise court’s halt of EPA’s regional haze plan

5th Circuit’s stay affects coal-powered plants, Big Bend National Park

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ halt of a proposed federal regional haze plan– aimed at protecting visibility at Big Bend and Guadalupe National Parks in Texas – drew praise today from the state’s largest manufacturing concerns.

The federal appeals court, based in New Orleans, blocked implementation yesterday of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regional haze rules. The Texas Association of Business and 23 local Texas chambers of commerce intervened in the challenge by the State of Texas and industry to EPA’s regional haze rulemaking for federal air-permitting programs in Texas.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 19, 2016

Lesser Prairie Chicken Delisted

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removes lesser prairie chicken from endangered, threatened lists - more to follow

By Polly Ross Hughes