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Infrastructure – Energy

Energy production, consumption and affiliated services are centrally important features of the Gulf Coast Region’s economy.

Oil and Gas

All of the region’s 13 counties produce oil and gas (Exhibit 39). In 2008, the region produced 11.6 million barrels of oil, 12.5 billion cubic feet of casinghead gas (a mixture of unrefined gases that can include methane, butane and propane), 282.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 6.4 million barrels of condensate (natural gas liquids). In 2008, Brazoria County led the region in oil production with 2 million barrels, while Wharton County led the region in natural gas production with 47.9 billion cubic feet.46

The area in and around Harris County includes the headquarters of several major energy companies. In particular, the Energy Corridor west of downtown Houston is home to the headquarters of BP, CITGO, ExxonMobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips. For more information on the region’s oil and gas industry, see p. 40-41.

Exhibit 39

Gulf Coast Region, Oil and Gas Production

See text version.

Sources: Texas Railroad Commission and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

View text for gas and oil production.


Natural gas is the most common fuel source for electricity generation facilities constructed in the Gulf Coast region since 1995. The region has 27 electricity plants operating or under construction, with a combined capacity of 7,789 megawatts.

Harris County has the largest number of these plants, with 13. There are four plants in Brazoria County, two in Chambers County, two in Fort Bend County, two in Galveston County, one in Matagorda County, one in Montgomery County and two in Wharton County. Twenty-three of these plants use natural gas for fuel, two use landfill gas, one uses nuclear power and one uses coal.49

Almost all of the Gulf Coast region lies within the boundaries of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the electric grid system that carries 85 percent of the state’s electric load. Liberty and Walker counties are in the area administered by the SERC Reliability Corporation, the grid system that covers most of the Southeast U.S. (Exhibit 40).

Texas began deregulating its retail electricity market in 2002. This deregulation, however, applies only to investor-owned utilities within the ERCOT region. Utilities owned by cities and rural cooperatives are not required to join the deregulated market. The Gulf Coast region has two municipally owned utilities and two rural cooperatives (Exhibit 41).

Most of the Gulf Coast region is subject to deregulation. In these areas, dozens of private companies compete to provide retail electric service to customers. The residential price per kWh in December 2009, based on a 1,000 kWh per month service plan, ranged from 10.1 cents to 14.9 cents in these areas.51

Exhibit 40

Areas in the ERCOT and SERC Electric Grids Gulf Coast Region

See text version.

Sources: Electric Reliability Coouncil of Texas and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

View text for electric grid areas.

Exhibit 41

Gulf Coast Region, Municipally Owned Utilities and Member-Owned Cooperatives

Municipally-Owned Utilities
Entity Name Counties in Service Area
City of Bellville Utility Department Austin
Weimar Electric Utilities Colorado
Member-Owned Cooperatives
Entity Name Counties in Service Area
San Bernard Electric Cooperative Austin, Colorado, Lavaca, Waller, Montgomery, Harris, Grimes and Fayette
Wharton County Electric Cooperative Wharton

Source: Public Utility Commission of Texas, Texas Electric Cooperatives.

Oil Refinery, Pasadena Texas

PHOTO: Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau


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