Coal Plants

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Take a rapidly growing state, add a scorching heat wave, and you have a recipe for historically high electricity use. So it was that Texas broke the record for power demand three times in the last week. Through it all, the state’s electric grid operated without major disruption.

That success nevertheless revealed some interesting things about the ways we generate and consume electricity.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said this week that the Department of Energy is working on a plan to subsidize coal and nuclear power in the name of national security. While the details are scarce, the idea’s been the subject of speculation and criticism from energy experts, environmentalists and grid operators.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Energy Secretary Rick Perry spoke in Austin today about a new Department of Energy plan to bail out failing coal and nuclear power plants in the name of national security.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Texas' energy industry is in flux.

The state's seen recent closures of three coal-powered power plants, as the state market shifts toward renewable sources like wind and solar energy. And, on the national level, the state's former governor is lobbying to extend a hand to the nation's struggling coal and nuclear industries.

KUT's Mose Buchele spoke to Jennifer Stayton about what the closures mean for Texas' energy industry and about this week's rejection of a plan from Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to subsidize nuclear and coal power. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The announcement that three coal power plants in Texas plan to close next year is likely good news for the environment, but bad news for the people who worked at the plants. As for what it means for your electric bill if you live in Austin, that’s complicated.

That was basically the message Austin Energy, the city’s publicly owned electric utility, delivered this month to a city oversight committee.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

News that the Sandow Power Plant outside Rockdale was closing broke on Friday the 13th.

“You would think you could put off till Monday to make that announcement," Steven Garza chuckles. "But that’s how it went down.”

Garza has worked as an electrician at the plant for four years. He and his wife were driving their son to school when he got the call and had to tell her he would be out of a job. 

Robert W. Hart / The Texas Tribune

Energy company Luminant says it’s shutting down three of its coal-fired power plants in Texas by early next year. The sudden closure of so many plants is unprecedented. That's not the only thing unexpected about the closures, though.