Wastewater spills worsened as drilling boomed in major oil- and gas-producing states, a new year-long investigation from the Associated Press shows. Those states, including Oklahoma, rely on the oil and gas industry to self-report such spills and rarely fine or punish companies, the AP’s John Flesher reports.
A Texas federal judge on Tuesday overturned endangered species protections for the lesser prairie chicken.
U.S. District Judge Robert A. Junell ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t properly consider a voluntary conservation plan established for Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico before listing the bird as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Continue Reading
Oklahoma officials are fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the Obama’s administration’s new Clean Power Plan, the federal government’s push to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But Oklahoma’s largest electric utilities have a big head start cutting back on coal, and are already on their way to compliance.
President Obama’s Clean Power Plan enraged many top officials in Oklahoma, who argued the rules were an expensive, unnecessary overreach by the federal government.
But the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could create opportunities in Oklahoma, researchers and officials say.
Slumping oil prices have fueled thousands of job losses in big energy states like Oklahoma, which is “gripped by a mini-recession,” economist Mark Snead tells the Journal Record‘s Kirby Lee Davis:
“The notion that Oklahoma has diversified away from oil and gas is, at this point, many, many years away,” he said.
VICE’s Matt Smith
“Welcome to Quakelahoma,” writes VICE’s Matt Smith, “where in less than a decade the state has gone from having about two noticeable earthquakes a year to about two a day.”
Oklahoma Gas and Electric is proposing a new “demand charge” be levied on customers who install rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines.
The suggested rate structure was filed with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which has to approve so-called “distributed generation” tariffs for OG&E and Public Service Co. by the end of the year, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports. OG&E says the new billing structure will eliminate the “subsidization” of solar customers by traditional customers:
The subsidization issue was one used by OG&E and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma to push for Senate Bill 1456, which passed in 2014.
The utilities said distributed generation customers still rely on the grid for electricity when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Under current billing options, some fixed costs are captured in the kilowatt-hour energy charges that vary by customer usage. The utilities claim rooftop solar users aren’t paying their fair share for poles, transformers, transmission lines and other fixed costs at the times of the day when they’re getting most of their electricity from solar generation.
Here’s how Monies describes the demand charge:
The Corporation Commission has not yet set a hearing date on the OG&E tariff and PSO has not yet filed one. Advocates of distributed generation — the growth of which is largely from rooftop solar and not small wind turbines — say OG&E hasn’t demonstrated that the subsidization is real and that the demand charge will block the growth of rooftop solar:
The biggest change for new distributed generation customers will be the demand charge. It is calculated by measuring customer usage in 15-minute increments. A customer’s peak demand on the system in a month would be used to calculate that customer’s demand charge.
The typical residential user has demand ranging from 6 to 8 kilowatts, said Don Rowlett, OG&E’s managing director of regulatory affairs. OG&E’s application puts a demand charge of $2.68 per kilowatt each month. That means most distributed generation users would be paying about $16 of their bill for a demand charge.
Sanders said The Alliance for Solar Choice was disappointed with OG&E’s filing. She said demand charges erode savings for solar customers and make it harder to predict future rates.
“OG&E is clearly carrying on the wishes of the national utility association, which has fought solar across the country,” Sanders said. “Demand charges are the latest play in the utility playbook.” Sanders said one Arizona utility, Salt River Project, instituted demand charges and saw solar installations fall by 96 percent in their service territory.
This year’s El Niño might be the strongest ever. The phenomenon — marked by unusually warm waters in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America — means more precipitation could be on the way for Oklahoma. The state’s wheat farmers are hopeful, but know too much rain at the wrong time can be ruinous.
Last year was a banner year for earthquakes in Oklahoma, but the state has recorded more magnitude-3.0 temblors in nine months than it did in 2014, Energy Wire’s Mike Soraghan reports.
The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed the first federal limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to cut the methane levels recorded in 2012 by at least 40 percent by 2025. Continue Reading