Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Texas Power Company

Every state has an idea in mind on how they should supply power to their people. Everyone, including Texas, will need to be constantly aware of several demographic factors to be able to foresee enough future broadcasting to serve their population in the best manner possible.

Texas is large state that has one of the fastest growing populations, as well as receiving the blessing of an explosion in job growth. Both of these are two of the factors to keep in mind while trying to decide what method Texas electric companies should use in generating power. By 2030, the expectation is to have a population of forty million people, and you will want to make sure the grids can handle the demand for a number of years. Temporary fixes just won't do. One option that the Texas power companies are looking into is adding a new base load of power plants to produce for the grid.

Currently, Texas electricity si at approximately seventy-two percent capacity in its use of natural gas for generation, while coal holds out at nineteen percent. The best way to produce energy effectively is to have a mix of resources going into the grid. When a state relies on simply one brand of energy, it may fall into disarray. Costs would rise and resources diminished. If Texas were to build more coal generating plants, than the cost of producing the energy could be kept down, and therefore the majority of low-income people living in the state could afford their electric bills. Coal is a reliable resource that should still be readily available over the next few decades. One drawback of using the coal generating stations is the emission of greenhouse gasses. Still, it has been determined by some that it will not be enough of an impact on the o-zone to worry about.

One study by the electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) estimated that by 2017 Texas would need an additional 500 megawatts of power generated from the older plants to sustain the expected business and residential population. Newer plants would need to generate almost 48,000 megawatts of energy. The gap between supply and demand will only grow if new ways of production are not met. Renewable energy might be able to help meet the needs of the state.
Texas currently has the largest producing wind farm in the nation. Nearly 3000 megawatts of energy are produced by wind turbines, which is about one-third what a coal plant could handle.

Another option could be to go nuclear, but it would take awhile to get those types of plants up and running. Natural gas is clean burning and is the major producer of energy in Texas. This type of energy is widely requested by industrial companies in the state. The Texas power companies could choose from any number of resources in order to produce more electricity for their power grids to sustain enough energy for the populace. The final decision will be based on demographics, feasibility studies, and cost of growing the grid to fit the state's needs.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What is Green Energy?

When you hear the phrase "green energy" what do you think of? Fields of windmills in the Midwest or suburban rooftops covered in solar panels? Maybe when you think of green energy you think about things that may not seem too practical or economically efficient. The fact is, just because something is green does not always mean that it has to be new or expensive. Any energy resource that is renewable, environmentally friendly and that does not pollute is a ‘green energy’ source and this category can include not only solar and wind power but also geothermal and even hydroelectric energy as well.

Let's talk a bit about each of these power sources and what makes them ‘green’. Solar energy may be the most well known up and coming green energy solution, but the technology is still in the development stage. While visions of a future where all buildings are wrapped in solar collecting material may not be too far away (in fact that technology does exist now) solar is still thought of as being inefficient, expensive and complicated to maintain. While that may have been the case some ten years ago, solar is rapidly growing out of its awkward adolescent years and developing into a hugely viable green energy option.Wind power has actually been around for hundreds if not thousands of years.

When people think of energy most of the time they are thinking of electricity, but any energy that makes things move or build up pressure is considered energy production or harvesting. Windmills were the first form of wind energy collection, and the modern equivalent are just as effective at producing electricity as their predecessors were at grinding flour. In fact, windmills are one of the least maintenance intensive source of energy, especially in what is known as the wind belt. The country’s largest wind farm is located in Texas, utilizing miles, and miles of windmills to produce clean Texas energy. Geothermal energy is a little more complicated. While places like Iceland and Wyoming have volcanic activity below their surface to provide steam and pressure, passive geothermal energy can actually be used on a worldwide level.

How much energy do we use each year heating and cooling buildings? The temperature below the ground is a constant 65 degrees F and by tapping into that with thermal rods, we can keep our buildings at that same temperature, never having to heat or cool from a greater extreme than that. Hydroelectric energy can also be considered green, but only is some situations. Small-scale hydroelectric stations do not require significant changes to the landscape and ecological balances around the water source so they are considered green. Larger outfits however require the flooding of massive amounts of area to provide a large enough reservoir to provide sufficient water volume so they leave a lasting and detrimental impact on the earth, making them not green.There are other types of green energy as well, but none of those technologies are developed to the point of being implemented.

However, when connected to the conventional power grid, green sources of energy can supplement our reliance on other, dirtier energy sources, gradually helping us make less of an impact on the delicate balances of our planet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Economic Stimulus - Lower Electric Bills

In today's difficult economy, many families are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. One of the reasons for the problems that so many people are having is the cost of their electricity bills. If you are one of these families, you are most likely looking for ways to cut the bills and put some of your money back in your pocket.

There are some states, like here in Texas, that will allow you to choose the Texas electricity company that you will use for your power. This is a great opportunity for those who live in those states to choose the company that offers the best prices. This plan is an all around winner for consumers in these states. Not only will you have the immediate benefit of choosing the company that will give you the best prices on your energy, but you will also be encouraging the companies to offer the best rates possible to gain your business. This is capitalism at its very best.

In addition to choosing the right Texas electric company for your energy, you can do a great many things around your home to save on your electric bill. Just becoming aware of the amount of electricity that you are spending will allow you to begin saving money. When you realize how much energy you are using, you are more likely to begin to conserve. Get a rundown of the appliances in your home and how much energy they use every day. Simply turning a few things off in your home may make a dramatic savings in your electricity bill.

Make sure that your appliances are energy efficient. When you consider the amount of energy that you can save on these appliances, they are well worth the money. Check the rating on your appliances and make sure that they are running efficiently at all times.

Do your research on energy saving and what you can do to make your home more energy efficient. The family that does their homework and pays attention to the energy that they are using will be the family that enjoys much lower bills. This puts money right back in your pocket instead of being paid to your electric company.

Take advantage of the opportunity to shop around for your energy in the states that allow this to take place. You have a fabulous chance to encourage great prices and competition among the utility companies. Find out if you have any choice when it comes to the utility company that you use in your state and do some comparison shopping. Many people can use www.ChooseEnergy.com.

Today's economy requires most families to tighten their belts and find ways to save money. The electric bills that you have and the energy that you use in your home is one of the ways that you can save some money. More and more families find themselves in dire straits and cost savings may mean the difference between surviving and not surviving. When you lose your job and have lost your income as many families now find themselves, finding a way to keep your head above water until you find a new job is vital. Energy savings and cutting the costs of your electric bill may be the one thing that gets you through this difficult period of time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Into Texas Electric Saving Tips

As the seasons turn toward spring, we can all look forward to the warm spring days and eventually the hot summer nights in Texas. Now is the time to prepare for the hot weather by managing your electric bill. You may be using more electricity than in the cooler months when you run your air conditioner, so this is a perfect time to find a way to lower those bills before you have to increase your energy use.

Preparing for an increased energy use for your air conditioning system could mean saving on other appliances in your home to minimize the effect on your monthly bill. Take a look at all of the other energy use that you have in your home and begin to find ways to minimize your use. It is as simple as being aware of the energy that you are using and finding ways to cut back.

Texas electricity means that you will have a choice when it comes to your electric service provider. Texas has made the decision to deregulate and it has given consumers a whole new way to look at their electric bill every month. No longer will you be forced to stay with a company that is charging you rates that are too high. Companies are now going to compete for your business and that means better rates for you. Spring is a good time to take a look at the Texas electric companies to find ways to prepare for the coming hot weather.

There are a number of appliances that we all have in our homes that we leave running on a constant basis. Computers are often left on and even though they use less electricity in their sleep mode than they do when fully on, off is a much better choice. Simple adjustments like turning off appliances when they are not in use and unplugging those electric appliances that continue to consume energy even when they are not powered on.

Get a rundown of the appliances that you have in your home and find out how much energy is being used by each of them. You might be amazed at the amount of savings that you can gain when you are aware of the energy that is being used. The savings that you can gain from turning off appliances might be enough to run your air conditioner on the hot summer days and not see a big difference in your electric bill.

The smart electric consumer is the one that will do the research and plan for the extra energy expense during the spring and summer months. Taking advantage of all the options that are available to you will make the summer months a cool breeze to get through. Visit some of the websites that are available that will give you the information that you need to get through the summer without raising the cost of your Texas electric bills. You will be glad that you made these changes in your home.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Clean Texas Energy

The number of pounds of carbon dioxide each individual generates a year is astounding; in the United States the average is 15,000 pounds. This number takes into account the amount carbon dioxide produced when the products and services we use are produced, the fuel we use to travel and the amount of energy we use in our homes. It is however possible to reduce and eliminate this number and live a “carbon neutral” life. Reducing our “carbon footprint” is an important step towards clean Texas energy sources.

Texans can start reducing their carbon footprint by becoming more energy efficient. This requires individuals to use less energy while maintaining their current life style. This can be done by:
• Switching to energy efficient appliances and light bulbs. Energy efficient light bulbs can save over 100 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year’s time.
• Reducing the amount of hot water used. People can invest in efficient on demand hot water heaters, low flow shower heads and wash clothes in cold water. This reduces the carbon dioxide load by over 300 pounds.
• Recycling reduces carbon dioxide waste by 2,500 pounds. Start a recycling program if one is not available.
• Planting trees can reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by about one ton for each tree planted. The trees not only absorb carbon dioxide, they provide wind breaks to keep buildings warm in the winter and shade to keep them cooler in the hotter months.

Another step towards the goal of clean Texas energy sources involves switching to renewable or clean energy sources such as solar and wind. Texas has always been synonymous with the oil industry. As sources of fossil fuel dwindle (oil production in Texas is down 73 percent since 1972) the state has to find new energy sources. The state has renewable and clean Texas energy sources to supply as much or even more sustainable energy than that which was supplied by fossil fuels. The potential for clean Texas energy is found in the renewable energy sources of wind, geothermal, biomass and solar power.

Wind power is considered sustainable and cost effective and is perfect as a clean Texas energy source. Texas has the potential to produce enough energy from wind to be self reliant. Calculations also show an overflow of wind power, this excess can be sold within the region.

Texas’ location is perfect for solar power generation. The state has many long sunny daysperfect for harvesting solar energy. Solar energy requires an investment but the returns make it worth it.

With the diminishing fossil oil reserves, Texas will have a substantial number of abandoned wells. These wells can be geared up to produce geothermal energy. This is another way to convert fossil energy dependancy to clean Texas energy usage.

Waste from agricultural and landfills can be used to produce biomass energy. Biodiesel has already been used to power some vehicles in some Texas cities effectively reducing some those cities carbon footprints.

Purchasing green power at the individual, city or government level can lead to widespread use of clean Texas electricity. Texans can reduce their carbon foot print by building small scale renewable energy sources suitable for businesses or homes. The parts are affordable with wind and solar energy kits readily available. Individuals can also invest money in companies that sell, research and manufacture parts related to clean energy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Business Profits - Could Your Electric Bill Help?

The late Milton Friedman was one of the greatest economic minds in history. It was Friedman who coined the term a business’ number one priority is to earn a profit. Most people understand this. After all, a business that is not profitable will not be operational for long. However, most people look at profits from a narrow perspective. That is, they see profits exclusively in the form of revenues. This, however, is not completely the case. Profits are how much you have earned over your expenditures. That means a business can increase its profits by reducing its expenditures. And, without a doubt, the biggest expenditure drain a business often deals with is energy costs. That is why it is critical to cut back on energy costs if you wish you business to remain profitable.

Thankfully, there are a number of easy ways to do this.

Don’t overuse wattage in your light bulbs. Many lights utilize bulbs are far higher in wattage than needed. Purchasing smaller watt bulbs or even changing out incandescent bulbs with LED or flourescent light bulbs would cut energy costs dramatically. Now, some may say LED and flourescent lights are expensive. While they do cost more than traditional bulbs, they last a LOT longer and require less electricity. As such, they eventually pay for themselves.

Putting energy consuming products on a timer is a good way to make sure that lights and computers are not left on after hours. It is shocking how much money a business loses do to employees leaving electrical items on when they leave work on Friday. However, if these devices are on a timer and shut off automatically, this problem can be circumvented. Most timers are also inexpensive and easy to install and they can be integrated into any office environment.

Insulating a building is a very common way to cut down on expenses. It costs a lot of money to heat and cool an office and when air is escaping due to poor insulation then it is escaping needlessly. Insulating an office is not an expensive proposition and, like most energy efficient lights, insulating ultimately pays for itself over time.

Having an energy audit could prove quite helpful. There are professionals who can examine a building and assess any problems with electrical energy expenditures. Of course, once these problems are revealed proper steps can be made to correct such flaws. You cannot undervalue the great benefits these professionals offer and that is why procuring their services is so highly recommended.

Lowering your electricity rate - You didn't think I'd write a blog post without throwing a plug to our services did you? Many businesses simply need to login to ChooseEnergy.com and request a lower rate for their business. This can have an immediate and dramtic impact on the overall electric bill.

In addition to saving a great deal of money for your business, there is an ancillary benefit as well. Namely, your business will be contributing greatly to the environment. By taking part in energy conservation, our natural resources will not be depleted at an accelerated rate. This connects to Milton Friedman’s assertion that the greatest social justice a company can perform is earning a profit. In this particular instance, boosting profits by cutting energy expenditures creates the ancillary effect of a cleaner environment. Any company that contributes to such a cause truly is deserved of acclaim. Why not let your business be among these companies?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Texas Electricity Proposed Changes

State lawmakers are looking over a proposal by the Cities Aggregation Power Project (CAAP) that would give cities the power to choose your electric provider. This is possibly one of the worst ideas I think I've come across since deregulation began in 2002. Essentially - this would provide CAAP and cities with the power to tell consumers who their "electric choice" would be. So, how is that "electric choice" anyway. They basically think people (Texas consumers) don't know what they need so they want the government to tell them what they need and who should be their power provider. Some people I speak with simply don't want to change - they like their power provider that they've had since before deregulation and simply are not switching. Well, if CAAP gets their way - consumers like this would not have that choice to stay with their current provider. They would be switched away - then they would have to contact their previous provider and switch back or they would have to opt out of the power pool so to speak. How many people do you think would miss this tidbit of opt out information if they recieved it in the mail? This proposal simply makes absolutely ZERO sense to me. More power, more control and more government is certainly not what competition and freedom of choice is all about. You currently have the power to choose even if you choose to stay with your current provider - that should be your choice. That's why large markets like electricity, transportation, telecom and others have been deregulated - so that consumers could have a choice, competition could breed lower prices - and markets could thrive through innovation.

Listen, electric deregulation has certainly had it's ups and downs since it began in 2002, but let it run it's course and work out some of the market flaws. We are currently seeing some electric prices below what they were in December 2001 before deregulation started. How many items or services do you purchase today that are at a lower cost than they were 7 years ago? I would have to say not many. Plus, the run up in electric prices this past few years and especially this past summer were not only because of deregulation - without deregulation we would have seen similar prices increases. Did we not see $4.00+ gasoline prices? Was that caused by the deregulation of the Texas electricity market? No. More competition and innovation will help this market - not more control and regulation.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Time to Save on Texas Electricity

Daylight savings time (DST) starts tonight. Ben Franklin suggested daylight savings time in 1784 but it wasn’t until 1918 that Congress established it into law. Previously, DST began on the first Sunday in April and lasted until the last Sunday in October. The U.S. extended DST in 2007 to begin on the second Sunday of March through the first Sunday in November. This give us an additional 5 weeks of natural light – thus additional savings on our Texas electric bills. To help lower energy usage, during DST, the sun rises one hour later in the morning and sets one hour later in the evening - essentially stretching the day. This works because it saves energy due to less artificial light needed during the daylight hours. In the United States, residential lighting accounts for three point five percent (3.5%) of all energy use, thus daylight savings time helps the U.S. to utilize less energy. In Texas – nearly 10 percent of energy costs come from lighting. Texas electricity meters move fast enough during the spring and summer months, but every little bit helps. So tonight – don’t forget to move your clock ahead one hour thus we lose an hour when DST starts. To lower your electric bills even furthur - don't forget to sign up for a lower rate at www.ChooseEnergy.com.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Texas Electric News - Reliant Getting New Owner

There are quite a few things going on in the the Texas electricity market these days. News came today that NRG Energy has agreed to buy Reliant Energy’s retail electricity business in Texas for $287.5 million. This is obviously big news since Reliant Energy is one of the largest players (2nd behind Energy Future Holdings/ TXU Energy) in the Texas electric market with over 1.8 million customers. What's quite intersting is that Exelon has been trying to purchase NRG the past several months and they also recently stated that 51% of the shareholders of NRG have agreed in principal to the Exelon offer.

I believe this is solid show of support for the Texas electric market and an important move for Reliant Energy - especially since they released earnings today and lost over $437 million in the 4th quarter - that was compared to net income of $227 million in that same quarter a year ago.

A lot has changed in the Texas electric landscape in the past couple of years...