Change in store for energy industry


May 26, 2011 at 12:26 a.m.

NAS_PHOTO_WORKING/052311/PACKARD_MICHAEL_052711PackardTo run with STEC story.

NAS_PHOTO_WORKING/052311/PACKARD_MICHAEL_052711PackardTo run with STEC story.

Change is coming to the energy world and the next few years will be critical for the South Texas Electric Cooperative and its distribution companies, Michael Packard said.

"I think we're going to see growth in the next four or five years," said Packard, general manager of the South Texas Electric Cooperative. "And that growth may be way beyond what we ever planned."

Packard spoke to about 200 people Thursday morning at the South Texas Electric Cooperative's annual meeting, updating them on issues affecting the energy industry.

The oncoming growth comes partly because of Eagle Ford Shale drilling, and means some parts of the cooperatives will find themselves inundated with activity, said Arlon Retzloff, the electric cooperative's president.

"We look forward to a booming year in that direction," he said.

Upcoming Environmental Protection Agency regulatory changes might also mean change for the cooperative, Retzloff said.

The regulatory updates mean larger capital expenditures, Packard said, and it might mean some costs being passed on to customers.

"For every $1 we increase in the cost of power, that's something someone doesn't get to spend on medicine, education or just living," he said. "It has a big effect."

Many of the changes involve transitioning from fossil fuels to green resources, Packard said.

That can be a good transition if there is time to complete it, he said, but current standards are pushing the process along more quickly than is ideal.

Edward Korenek, past director of the Wharton County Electric Cooperative, said he attended Thursday's meeting to get a look at what's happening with the industry. He said he did not agree with many of the newer environmental regulations coming into play.

David Rosse, secretary and treasurer of the Nueces Electric Cooperative, attended the event to represent the company he works for and to thank South Texas Electric Cooperative for the work it does.

Without them, he said, his company would have to offer higher electric rates to customers.

"I also came because this is a good bunch of people," he said, glancing around. "This is what America was built on. People like this."



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