Editor’s note: Each Friday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Energy In-depth,” a round-up of energy and regulatory news.
DALLAS-BASED UTILITY GIANT OFFERS VIRTUAL SOLAR POWER TO TEXAS HOMEOWNERS: Dallas-based TXU Energy has launched the first electricity plan in Texas that is 100% backed by solar power generated in that state. The plan comes on the heels of the company’s new solar energy club, which allows Texas homeowners to get the benefits of a virtual rooftop solar array with fixed electricity prices over five years. TXU, one of the largest electricity retailers in Texas with 1.7 million customers, also has an electricity plan that is backed by 100% Texas wind energy, as well as the option to add 100% renewable energy credits to almost any electricity plan.
LOCKHEED MARTIN ENTERS 17-YEAR DEAL FOR SOLAR POWER FOR ALL BUSINESS SEGMENTS: Defense giant Lockheed Martin recently entered into a 17-year power purchase agreement for solar-generated electricity produced by Duke Energy Renewables. The renewable power purchase, which is expected to produce 30 megawatts (approximately 72,000 megawatt hours per year) of solar energy for the U.S. national grid, will provide clean energy across all Lockheed Martin domestic business segments. The new solar facility, operated by Duke Energy Renewables in Conetoe, N.C., is the largest solar power generating facility east of the Mississippi River producing 80 megawatts of total energy.
OIL PRODUCTION IN U.S. GULF OF MEXICO PROJECTED TO REACH RECORD HIGH IN 2017: U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM) crude oil production is estimated to increase to record high levels in 2017, even as oil prices remain low. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects GOM production will average 1.63 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2016 and 1.79 million b/d in 2017, reaching 1.91 million b/d in December 2017. GOM production is expected to account for 18% and 21% of total forecast U.S. crude oil production in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Production in the GOM is less sensitive than onshore production in the Lower 48 states to short-term price movements. However, decreasing profit margins and reduced expectations for a quick oil price recovery have prompted many GOM operators to pull back on future deepwater exploration spending, reduce their active rig fleet by scrapping and stacking older rigs, and restructure or delay drilling rig contracts. Contributing to the forecasted production growth are 14 projects: 8 that started in 2015, 4 starting in 2016, and 2 anticipated to start in 2017.
PINE BLUFF OFFICIALS UNVEIL POSSIBLE $3.7 BILLION GAS-TO-LIQUIDS SUPERPROJECT: Little Rock-based Energy Security Partners LLC and Pine Bluff officials announced Tuesday (Feb. 16) that Jefferson County is being considered as the top location to build and operate a potential $3.7 billion industrial gas-to-liquids (GTL) processing facility – a project that could be an economic boon to the Delta city and surrounding area and the largest economic development project in state history.
The GTL project, first reported by Talk Business & Politics in June, is being developed by former Clinton Administration officials – Gen. Wesley Clark and Rodney Slater – and a team of top energy industry leaders with expertise in a proprietary GTL process that will convert natural gas into clean-burning diesel fuel. Read more here.