Texas-based Green Mountain Energy celebrates ten years of offering consumers and businesses cleaner energy products using renewable sources such as wind, water and solar. That makes it the longest-serving green power provider in the nation. CEO Paul Thomas says more Texans than ever are interested in green power.
"At Green Mountain, if we look at our sales—and that's a good measure of consumer interest in the environment, from our perspective—we're gonna, our residential sales in Texas in 2007 will be 70 percent higher than 2006. It's really remarkable, what's happening." Ed: "Are you encouraged by the economic activity with wind farms in the state and, you know, sort of the business side of things?" "Absolutely. It could not be more exciting. The increase in wind production in Texas has been dramatic. There's even more that's been announced than on the drawing boards. If you look across the country at the amount of money that's coming into renewable energy, it is just fantastic, both in existing technologies and—existing commercial technologies like wind—but as well as new technologies, developing technologies that aren't commercial today, but could be at some point in the future." Ed: "Has this always been a passion from the very beginning for you?" "No, I developed an environmental passion later in life. I've been at Green Mountain seven years now, but one of the reasons I came to Green Mountain was a deep concern I've developed for what we're doing as a society to the environment. You know, I look back at my parents' generation, and I think my dad could say "I left the world a better place for you than what I got.' And I want to be able to say the same thing."
Thomas says wind power is just one component of a balanced renewable energy picture.
"Wind can be a significant part of supply, but it can't be all of supply, and the reason for that is the wind doesn't blow and you don't generate electricity at the same time that people want to consume it. So the wind tends to blow at night and off peak hours, so you can't have any city, state, society that's 100 percent wind-powered, at least with existing technology. It has to be supplemented with something else." Ed: "You have some environmentalists talking about the birds affected, or, you know, the noise of a...that's some of what you have to overcome, isn't it?" "Well, I think there's always trade-offs. But I don't know if you've ever seen a modern wind-producing facility, but I think they're awesome. They're majestic, really, these huge turbines turning. There, I just get excited every time I see them. But there are always trade-offs on any kind of technology, whether it's wind or coal or nuclear. There's gonna be trade-offs and pluses and minuses, and I think the question is not 'do any of these not have minuses,' because they all do. But what is the best overall package of pluses of minuses. And when you think about it that way, wind comes out way on top."
Green Mountain Energy launched its first renewable energy product in California in 1997. It entered the Texas market in 2001. Green Mountain Energy was the first retail electric provider to help build a wind farm in the state, which is now the tenth largest in the nation.
Eastman Chemical and Green Rock Energy plan to develop a $1.6 billion plant in Texas to produce chemicals from petroleum coke instead of natural gas. Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical says today it plans to split the cost of the Beaumont facility with Green Rock. The gasification project will use petroleum coke as the main ingredient to make hydrogen, methanol and ammonia. Construction is to begin in 2009 and the plant will be operating by 2011. Bryan Martin, a member of Green Rock's board of managers, says the Beaumont gasification project will lessen "our reliance on foreign energy resources.'' Air products and chemicals has tentatively agreed to buy hydrogen from the facility on a long-term basis. Fluor is providing engineering design services, while general electric's ge energy has licensed gasification technology for the project.
Technip USA plans to move into a new 17-story building planned for the Energy Plaza Office Park at Kirkwood and I-10. The French-owned firm signed a lease for space in Energy Tower II. Groundbreaking is set for February. A full-service hotel is also planned for the park, as well as another office building called Energy Tower III.
A federal communications regulator says News Corporation's proposed $5 billion acquisition of the Wall Street Journal's parent company raises competitive issues nationally and in New York. Michael Copps, one of five commissioners with the Federal Communications Commission, is asking Chairman Kevin Martin to open a proceeding to study whether the deal for Dow Jones & Company is in the public interest and whether it will affect diversity and competition. Copps, one of two Democrats on the FCC, has previously criticized the deal, saying it means more media consolidation and fewer independent voices. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation currently owns two television stations and the New York Post in New York.