Our View

Luminant Responds to EPA Final Regional Haze Plan for Texas and Oklahoma

The Environmental Protection Agency released its final Regional Haze Federal Implementation Plan for Texas and Oklahoma. The rule is purportedly intended to improve visibility over the next several decades at certain federal parks in far west Texas and Oklahoma.

While Luminant is still in the process of reviewing this, it unfortunately appears that the EPA ignored the substantial comments that were submitted to it in opposition to the proposal, and we continue to believe that it goes far beyond the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act. There is no legal or technical basis for EPA’s FIP since the state implementation plan submitted by Texas fully complies with the Clean Air Act. More importantly, the visibility benefits the EPA seeks for Texas and Oklahoma are already being met as evidenced by the federal monitors for these parks, yet EPA’s FIP would require Texas to spend $2 billion for what EPA itself projects would be no perceptible improvement in visibility.

The plan Texas submitted is working to improve visibility, and EPA should not saddle this state with huge and unnecessary costs that result in no discernible visibility improvements.

Check out our view on the plan as proposed on POV here:

The Reality About North Texas Ozone And Power Plants

You may see some news coverage soon on “new” studies touted by environmental activist groups about ozone in North Texas and three of Luminant’s power plants. The studies will undoubtedly and mistakenly conclude that if only costly emission controls were mandated for these plants, the region would finally be in attainment for ozone.

But, alas, there’s nothing new here.
Continue reading “The Reality About North Texas Ozone And Power Plants” »

Luminant Responds to Final EPA Rule on GHG

Company reviewing to determine if rule respects Texas’ unique intrastate electricity sector, dynamic competitive market

Luminant_logo_sm300x189As we did when the proposed rule was released, Luminant will extensively review the Environmental Protection Agency’s final Section 111 (d) rule before commenting in detail.

We’ll be looking closely to determine if the EPA truly listened and fundamentally restructured this final rule from the proposed rule, which was unlawful, unworkable and unfair to Texas.

The final rule, to be workable, must respect Texas’ unique intrastate electricity sector and dynamic competitive market. The proposed rule did not account for these factors, with its huge cost increase for consumers, unrealistic dispatch of coal to natural gas and mandate for a massive build out of renewables — without crediting Texas for its significant and nation-wide leading investments in renewables to date — that would threaten reliability.

With the record demand for July we saw last week, we again are reminded why Texas and its growing economy must continue to be served by the diverse mix of energy that’s proven to be dependable — coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables.

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Luminant Responds to Misleading Op-Ed Piece by Environmental Activist Group

The claims by Public Citizen about our power plants are just wrong

Luminant_logo_sm300x189A commentary posted today in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Tom Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, is misleading, inaccurate and not surprising. This is just the latest verse of the same tired song Public Citizen has been singing for more than two years.

Let’s fill in the record with the facts: Power costs in Texas would go up under the Clean Power Plan proposed rule; even the Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged this. A study by National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting estimates that EPA’s proposal could raise electricity prices in Texas on average 27 percent, relative to a base case without the rule.

The claims by Public Citizen about our power plants, as usual, are just wrong. All of our plants meet or exceed the requirements of all state and federal emissions standards, a fact we’re proud of.

Yet in 2013, Public Citizen and a small group of physicians with the Dallas County Medical Society demanded the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality order three of our coal plants to install cost prohibitive equipment even though the air quality in North Texas is becoming cleaner, an indication existing laws and rules are working. What Smith fails to mention is TCEQ denied the activists request then and again this year with the TCEQ stating their demand was “not justified.”

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What’s the Taxable Value of a Power Plant?

Luminant addresses wholesale power prices, operating costs and other factors that impact fair value

With the annual property appraisal process underway, we certainly understand the concern we’re hearing in the counties and school districts where we have plants and mines about what we view as the value of those sites.

As a longtime corporate citizen in these communities, we want them to be great places to live, work and grow. And as the largest taxpayer in these communities, we recognize the sizable portion of total property taxes our payments cover and the potential impact when those payments change. We are committed to pay our fair share as prescribed by Texas law.

So what are the factors that determine the fair taxable value of a power plant?

To begin with, knowing how our business works is very important. Luminant’s power plants operate in what’s known as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) competitive market. There’s often confusion about what this means since the competitive power market in Texas is such a change from years ago when all generators were regulated. Even now, utilities owned by cities and co-ops remain regulated. So are the poles and wires companies, such as Oncor.

At Luminant, we’re no longer a tightly regulated utility with the government setting rates for customers, deciding when and where plants can be built and then shouldering ratepayers with the capital cost. We no longer have a guaranteed rate of return. Continue reading “What’s the Taxable Value of a Power Plant?” »

Luminant Statement on 2015 Property Tax Appraisal Process

Decreasing taxable values at our plants and mines caused by market forces mean a plant holds a lower property value in the year ahead

Luminant_logo_sm300x189Luminant enters the 2015 property tax appraisal process with the sincere desire to pay our fair share of taxes just like any other business or homeowner. Our goal is to work with county appraisal districts to determine the taxable valuation for our power plants and mines through negotiated agreements and pay our taxes in January 2016 as usual.

The decreasing taxable values at our plants and mines are caused by market forces. Sharply lower wholesale power prices, driven by low natural gas prices that have steadily dropped since 2008, mean less revenue at plants. Less revenue means a plant holds a lower property value in the year ahead.

The longer term trend for revenue at our plants has continued to go down. In 2008, average annual wholesale power prices were more than $63 per megawatt in the ERCOT market where we compete. In January 2015, wholesale power prices averaged $23 per megawatt.

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Luminant Files Comments on Regional Haze

No perceptible benefit to proposed EPA rule that would increase consumer power costs, threaten reliability and jeopardize jobs

Luminant_logo_sm300x189The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule for regional haze in Texas is a costly so-called “solution” with no perceptible benefit.

Luminant believes the agency is proposing a rule so restrictive for Texas that it would increase power costs for consumers, threaten grid reliability and potentially throw thousands of Texans out of work. Not only that, in extensive comments filed today with the EPA, Luminant described the proposal released by the EPA in late 2014 as unlawful and urged the agency to withdraw it.

Some background: Regional haze is the impairment of visibility at national parks caused by many sources, such as vehicles, windblown soil and power plants, but also emissions and smoke blown in from Mexico. Importantly, unlike other Clean Air Act rules regarding emissions, regional haze regulations don’t have anything to do with health. These rules require each state to prepare what’s called a state implementation plan, or SIP, to gradually improve visibility over decades at national parks inside their borders and those in other states impacted by their emissions.

Texas’s regional haze SIP—submitted to the EPA in 2009—covers Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas and the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Southern Oklahoma. The CAA gives states substantial flexibility and discretion in determining “reasonable progress goals” for improving visibility at the parks. And note the critical distinction here in that we’re talking about goals, not standards.

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Listening Keeps Focus on Customers

TXU Energy leaders' customer listening program ensures excellent customer service

Side-by-side sessions between customer care agents like Sharon Manual and TXU Energy leaders like Danny Taylor provide opportunities for constant improvement in customer experience.

Side-by-side sessions between customer care agents like Sharon Manual and TXU Energy leaders like Danny Taylor provide opportunities for constant improvement in customer experience.

Consumers have heard it countless times, “Calls may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes.”

If TXU Energy used such a phrase, it more accurately might say, “Our CEO and the entire leadership team are listening to help ensure an excellent customer experience.”

Since 2012, top TXU Energy leaders have logged more than 5,000 hours listening to calls between customers and TXU Energy customer care representatives. The program helps leaders understand how processes and policies affect the company’s people and customers. It’s also delivered key changes that make TXU Energy even easier to do business with.

“We have an unwavering commitment to our people and our customers,” said Jeff Camp, vice president of contact center operations. “By sitting knee-to-knee with our frontline people, we see and hear how they are able to use our sales and service tools, we hear how our customers respond and we find opportunities for constant improvement.”

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