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Texas Observer Fails Reporting 101 with Self-Bonding Stories

ELuminant_logo_sm300x189very college-level basic reporting course teaches this fundamental of journalism: get both sides of the story. But the Texas Observer gets an F for blatantly ignoring that standard in recent stories on mine reclamation self-bonding in Texas.

Luminant, the largest coal mining company in Texas, is prominently mentioned in the lead story and even attacked by a longtime environmental activist, who, as usual, is wrong. But did the Texas Observer bother to contact us for our side of the story?


And that’s beyond sloppy journalism. It’s unfair and irresponsible.

In the opening paragraphs, Texas Observer reporter Naveena Sadasivam, mistakenly describes the process Luminant followed to transition from bonds backed by the company’s demonstrated financial condition, or self-bonding, to a collateral bond to secure reclamation costs upon entering bankruptcy as required by the Railroad Commission of Texas. She wrongly implies it was impulsive and chaotic. It wasn’t.

If she contacted us, Sadasivam could have avoided these errors:

  • Energy Future Holdings and Luminant didn’t file for bankruptcy in “mid-2014.” It was in April, 2014.
  • Regulators didn’t “suddenly” have a problem. Months prior to the filing, we consulted the RCT regarding an approach for replacing our self-bonding in the event of a bankruptcy and RCT explained to Luminant what was expected under the rules for an orderly process.
  • There was no “strong-arming.” Well before filing, Luminant understood the regulatory requirements regarding bonding during a restructuring process and was committed to full compliance with those regulations. In consultation with the RCT, the company methodically arranged for a collateral bond secured by $1.1 billion in debtor in possession financing the bankruptcy court approved three days after filing. The RCT then unanimously approved.

Since before we filed for bankruptcy, Public Citizen’s Tom Smith has made misleading claims Luminant might not meet its reclamation obligations. He was wrong then and he’s wrong now suggesting we weren’t committed and able to cover them.

The facts, oblivious to the Texas Observer, back up that commitment. For more than 40 years, Luminant has set the standard in mined land reclamation, restoring nearly 80,000 acres, planting over 38 million trees and creating or enhancing more than 5,100 acres of wetlands, ponds and stream channels. In 2015, Luminant reclaimed more than 2,300 acres and planted over 1 million trees. More than 1,500 acres were reclaimed in 2014 and 1.5 million trees planted.

As an enthusiastic media partner of the environmental activists’ agenda to end coal generation, which the state relies on, and throw thousands of Texans out of their jobs, the Texas Observer has buried the solid fundamentals of good journalism. So these words, literally buried in its website, now ring hollow, “Our reporting is fair, accurate, and, as our mission states, it hews hard to the truth as we find it.”

Job One Profiles: Jorge Bustamante

Showing Customers Some Love

Jorge Bustamante has 20 years of experience in the customer service industry. Over that time, he’s found success by solving issues for customers and determining the root cause of an issue to prevent future incidents. Now, as a payment issues supervisor, Jorge coaches his team to show their customers some love and build loyalty through empathy and positive communication. Watch this month’s Job One Profile to learn more about how Jorge and his team work together to make an impact with customers.


View more Job One Profiles to see how our employees’ unique talents, passions and expertise help strengthen our company’s legacy of leadership in the energy industry.

Watch how Job One defines us and guides us in the work we do every day to serve our customers and our communities:

POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for August 23, 2016

DOE funds 12 cybersecurity projects to improve infrastructure; Amtrak to implement community microgrid; UK to review coal policy post-Brexit

POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • The DOE is providing up to $34 million towards 12 cybersecurity projects to improve the country’s energy infrastructure. The funds will cover five cybersecurity areas including: detecting and responding to operational threats, integrating renewables securely, reducing exposure, detecting malware already in the supply chain and identifying gaps in the cybersecurity roadmap released in 2011.
  • Amtrak is planning to implement a community microgrid on its transit system so that it can continue to operate in the event of a power outage. The proposed $31.3 million microgrid with operate with 17.2 MW of energy generation and 4 MWh of storage. Costs (operation, maintenance and fuel costs) total $7.2 million annually with forecasted revenue streams of $10 million annually.
  • The U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union could have ramifications on the country’s power supply and lead to a potential review of the U.K.’s policy on coal. As a non-EU member, the U.K. could be excluded from creating the rules that govern the EU’s wholesale power and gas markets leaving its energy market vulnerable.
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for August 22, 2016

Nuclear reactors at a fraction of the size; Indian electricity demand growing

POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • Still under development, small modular reactors (SMRs) are under consideration for use in the power industry. SMRs use nuclear technology that is scaled down and are able to produce approximately 10 percent of the electricity of traditional reactors. The “mini plants” are made of parts that are transportable on trucks and barges. Once at the site, they are assembled in around six to 12 months.
  • In India, NTPC Ltd., the country’s largest power producer saw a 4 percent increase in Q1 profit due to higher energy sales. NTPC’s plants produced 64.56 billion kWh of power, 10 percent more than a year ago. The country’s electricity demand also increased 8.1 percent within the three-month period. The company reported its earnings based on the newly introduced Indian Accounting Standards, which are in line with the International Financial Reporting Standards.

After Hours with Terry Perry

Lake Hubbard Power Plant Superintendent

Chasing the thrill of the rodeo life, Terry Perry is most at home in the saddle. He’s been taking life by the horns and honing his skills as a team roper for the past 40 years. Between competitions, he’s lassoing interest in the sport by mentoring others through church rodeos, riding clubs and 4-H events. “No one is too old or too young to learn how to rope and ride,” Terry says. “All it takes is a little bit of grit, guts and gumption.”TPerryAfterHours_POV

Luminant-Sponsored Robocats Bring Home the Gold

Invaluable lessons in teamwork and the sciences

Robocats - August 2016 - 1The Woodrow Wilson High School robotics team, the Robocats, recently battled their way to the top during the inaugural UIL Robotics State Championship. With help from a $1,000 Luminant sponsorship donation, the Dallas ISD team won first place and took home a gold medal for their best-in-class robot performance.

The competition, titled Stronghold, challenged participants to form alliances and build robots capable of breaching their opponents’ fortifications, weakening their tower with boulders and scaling the opposing tower. In addition to the Robocats, the winning alliance included the Clear Creek ISD Robonauts, the Greenville ISD Robowranglers and the Harlandale ISD Rhumbots.

“The teamwork, expertise and engineering knowledge demonstrated by the Robocats and their alliance teams was awe-inspiring,” said Tony Rylander, Luminant principal engineer and Robocats mentor. “Countless hours go into designing and constructing these robots. We had an incredible journey and I’m thrilled to see the Robocats accomplish their first championship win.”

Robocats team members, ranging from freshman to seniors, learn critical Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills, including electrical, mechanical and programming concepts. This fall, the team will gear back up to compete in the Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) Regional Robotics Championship.

Learn more about the Robocats’ journey throughout the years.

Robocats - August 2016 - 2

POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for August 15, 2016

Fifth Japanese nuclear reactor to resume operation; ERCOT's record week

POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • In Japan, the Shikoku Electric Power Company announced that it is planning to restart unit 3 of its Ikata nuclear power plant. This marks the fifth Japanese reactor to resume operation and it will follow the new safety standards implemented following the Fukushima accident in 2011.
  • Throughout the week of August 8, ERCOT reached record levels of all-time peak systemwide demand a total of six times. The current all-time peak record is 71,197 MW set on Thursday, August 11 between 4-5 p.m. While much of Texas saw temperatures in the three digits last week, this week’s forecast should be milder with less power consumption expected; ERCOT expects sufficient generation available.

As Peak Demand Keeps Rising in ERCOT, Records Fall

Powering Texas through the hot summer season

Lamar Power Plant, Luminant’s Combined-Cycle Natural Gas Plant

Lamar Power Plant, Luminant’s Combined-Cycle Natural Gas Plant

With the August heat above 100 degrees and covering much of Texas this week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas set another record for peak power demand on Thursday between 4-5 p.m. of 71,197 megawatts. The previous record of 71,043 megawatts had just been set one hour earlier (between 3-4 p.m.). The new peaks set on Thursday blew past 71,000 megawatts for the first time and beyond the records set on Wednesday and Monday of this week.

To give you an idea of how much generation that is, one megawatt can power 200 homes in periods of high demand.

On these hot days when demand is at its highest, where does all that power come from?

ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to 24 million Texas customers, representing 90 percent of the state’s electric load. Luminant is the largest power generator in ERCOT.

The ERCOT grid relies on a diverse mix of energy sources that when all pulling together provide the power for this growing state. Here’s a breakout from ERCOT of which energy sources provided the power when Texans needed it most when Monday’s record was set:

  • 57% natural gas (includes combined cycle as well as traditional steam and combustion turbines)
  • 27% coal
  • 8% wind
  • 7% nuclear
  • 1% other (hydro, renewables, diesel)
    Note: Percentages are rounded
Forney Power Plant – Luminant’s Combined-Cycle Natural Gas Plant

Forney Power Plant – Luminant’s Combined-Cycle Natural Gas Plant

These numbers also underscore the importance of dependable power generation from natural gas, coal and nuclear energy.

Over the record peak hour on Monday, Luminant’s coal and gas plants and Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant helped supply nearly 15,000 megawatts to the grid.

“We strive for operational excellence, and on days like we’ve had this week, we’re reminded why it’s so important to work as a team to maintain safe and reliable operations,” said Steve Horn, Luminant chief fossil officer. “Our employees deserve immense credit for safely working in these extreme temperatures to help their fellow Texans stay safe and cool.”

With more hot days ahead, Luminant’s people, plants and mines are doing their part for safely powering Texas.