Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

State reporter, KUT News Veronica Zaragovia reports on state government for KUT News, and gets to team up with an extraordinary group of KUT journalists on how legislation affects the people of Texas. She's reported as a legislative relief news person with the Associated Press in South Dakota and has worked as a freelancer and intern with the Agence France Presse, TIME, WDET Detroit public radio and PBS NewsHour, among others. She's dedicated much of her adult life to traveling, learning languages and drinking iced coffee. vzaragovia@kut.org

Austin’s Energy Mix Just Got Much Sunnier

The 380-acre Webberville Solar Farm outside of Austin.

Mose Buchele / StateImpact Texas

The 380-acre Webberville Solar Farm outside of Austin.

From KUT News: 

Austin Energy will soon be getting more of its power from the sun.

The city-owned electric utility has signed a deal, announced today, with a San Francisco-based firm to build the single-largest solar facility in Texas by 2016. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, Recurrent Energy will build a 150-megawatt solar farm in West Texas.

Austin Energy spokesperson Carlos Cordova says the deal will help the public utility and the Austin City Council to achieve two goals, “to have 200 megawatts of all of our energy derived from solar power, and 35 percent of all of our energy be derived by renewable energy.”

The agreement should make Austin the largest city in America with a public power utility delivering 35 percent Green-e certified energy. The utility already has 50 megawatts of local solar power in Austin. Continue Reading

Should Texas Pay Power Companies Just For Having Power Plants?

An electric light bulb shines 31 May 200

Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

The Public Utility Commission of Texas is proposing a change to the way the state’s electricity market is run. And some lawmakers voiced concerns during a public hearing at the Capitol yesterday.

The Texas Senate Natural Resources Committee hosted a hearing to question the Public Utility Commission, or PUC, about the possible change to the market.

Right now, power companies get paid when they produce electricity. The change could end up paying those power companies twice: once for the power they produce, and a second time just for owning or building power plants. The proposal is aimed at encouraging power companies to build new plants – to help avoid power shortages that have led to rolling blackouts in the past. Continue Reading

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