The combination of cold weather, a wet corn crop, and pipeline maintenance has contributed the all-time record high propane prices being seen this winter.
Public Service Company of Oklahoma — which provides electricity to more than a half-million Oklahomans — can move ahead with plans to retire its coal-fired power plants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday.
The agreement between the utility, state, and EPA is expected to bring PSO into compliance with regional haze regulations, the federal government’s effort to clear the air at national parks and wildlife refuges.
From The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies:
PSO’s plan for regional haze calls for it to retire one coal unit at Northeastern by 2016. It would install some emissions-control equipment on another coal unit before retiring it by 2026. To make up for the loss of the coal-fired unit in 2016, PSO will buy natural gas generation from Calpine Corp. under a 15-year power purchase agreement.
The utility also recently signed three 20-year contracts for a total of 600 megawatts of wind power from wind farms to be built in northwestern Oklahoma and the Panhandle by 2016.
Saturday’s 4.1-magnitude quake caused a few cracks at the Logan County Jail. Oklahoma is experiencing a dramatic increase in earthquakes, which many scientists say is likely connected to disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry.
Drought and agriculture don’t mix very well. So after three years of intense drought, you might expect rural western Oklahoma communities — where fortunes have traditionally hinged on the condition of wheat crops — to be dying on the vine.
But no. As The Journal Record‘s Brian Brus reports, many of these towns are adapting to a new economy with a little help from the oil and gas industry.
Elk City Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Jim Mason said his community has blossomed as it’s moved from agriculture to petroleum…
“The local grain elevator has closed down and our cotton gin is now gone. A lot of our agriculturally related businesses do seem off,” he said. “Drought has had a big impact, but it hasn’t devastated us.”
A tax credit for horizontal drilling expires next year, and, as we’ve reported, the looming deadline has spurred lawmakers to discuss overall changes to Oklahoma oil and gas taxes.
Or, as State Treasurer Ken Miller puts it, an “opportunity to modernize the state’s energy tax policy.”
A 7 percent tax is levied on most oil and gas production, but the Legislature in the ’90s created a tax credit for horizontal drilling that reduced those taxes to 1 percent for the first 48 months of production.
Horizontal drilling was an experimental and rarely used technique when the tax credit was created, but now most new wells in Oklahoma are drilled horizontally, and the cost of the incentive has ballooned. Drilling rebates and refunds totaled about $173 million last fiscal year. Continue Reading
Oklahoma lawmakers are debating an expiring incentive that reduces gross production taxes to from 7 to 1 percent for horizontal drilling, and some legislators have called to reduce all oil and gas taxes. But Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, suggests a variable rate linked to the number of Oklahoma workers the oil producer employs.
Propane prices fell slightly this week, from a record high of more than $4 last week. But many of the 400,000 or so Oklahomans who rely on propane for home heating and cooking need more relief than that.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services began taking applications for the Energy Crisis Assistance Program on Tuesday, after the federal government released an additional $4 million for Oklahoma.
As Tulsa NewsOn6‘s Dan Bewley reports, for many, the help can’t come soon enough:
“This is our one space heater that we have and it keeps the living room, the bathroom, and the kitchen and part of the hallway done,” Johnson said.
The Johnsons are like thousands of Oklahomans who are struggling to pay their propane bill. The cost of the fuel has gone from $1.85 a gallon in the fall to nearly $5 a gallon in late January.
“I’m worried about paying for it because I can’t do it, I seriously can’t do it,” Johnson said. “I have a very short income right now, it’s a very small income and it’s hard to do it.”
Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s fight with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the Regional Haze Rule is well known. But his battle with the EPA has many fronts.
Last week, StateImpact reported on what the passage of State Question 640 in 1992 did to tax policy in Oklahoma.
“You need to have a super-majority in the House and the Senate and the governor has to sign it,” Alexander Holmes, a Regent’s Professor of Economics at the University of Oklahoma, said. “I’m still betting that if you reduce the taxes, you can never make them go up again.”
But there there are ways around the tax-killing law, as the mining industry may be about to discover.Continue Reading
The federal government will use a grassland laboratory near El Reno to research the regional effects of climate change for U.S. farmers, ranchers and foresters, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday.
The Grazinglands Research Laboratory was picked to be one of the country’s seven “climate hubs,” where federal and state agencies, university scientists and other researchers will generate data to help landowners “adapt and adjust their resource management,” federal officials said in a statement.
Climate change-related drought, fires, floods and invasive pests will be a central focus at the hubs. Continue Reading