Cobler: Irving company pivots to green energy

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
Chris Cobler

Vistra, an energy powerhouse based in Irving, announced plans to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

A key part of that plan is a capital investment of $1.15 billion by 2022 on solar and storage projects in California and Texas. The company also plans to close coal-fire energy plants in Illinois and Ohio by 2027.

“Vistra’s commitment to our transformation to a low-to-no-carbon future is unequivocal and offers unique opportunities for growth and innovation,” President and CEO Curt Morgan said in a news release.

Vistra solar projects opening within the next two years in Texas are in Andrews, Brightside, Emerald Grove, Forest Grove and Oak Hill. A solar project and energy storage project is planned at Upton 2 near Emerald Grove. Energy storage is planned in DeCordova southwest of Dallas-Fort Worth.

Vistra is a Fortune 275 retail electricity and power generation company. Its holdings include TXU Energy, Homefield Energy, Dynegy, Ambit Energy and Luminant.

Early voting starts Oct. 13

Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order and a Texas Supreme Court decision changed some counties’ plans for handling mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election.

Citing security concerns, Abbott ordered all 254 Texas counties to offer only one drop-off location for absentee ballots.

“These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting,” Abbott said.

Democrats accused the Republican governor of trying to suppress the vote, particularly in larger metropolitan areas. The League of United Latin American Citizens, the League of Women Voters and two individuals filed a lawsuit to challenge the order.

“Geographically, Harris County is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. “Our population rivals that of the entire state of Colorado. To propose only a single, secure drop-off location for a county of our size during a pandemic is ludicrous.”

Earlier, the Republican-controlled Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling that created a similar partisan reaction about voting security and rights. The court said Harris and other counties could not send unsolicited mail-in ballots to voters.

In-person early voting starts Oct. 13 in Texas. The Texas Library Association is encouraging its member libraries to share election guides created by the League of Women Voters.

Early voting continues until Oct. 30. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Oct. 23, and the deadline to return a mail-in ballot is Nov. 3.

Along with visiting their local libraries and reading their local newspapers, people may go to the League’s for information about their ballots for the general election. Also, the Texas Tribune, a statewide nonprofit news initiative, offers ballot information at

Top educators make the grade

Texas’ two top teachers work in opposite ends of the Lone Star state.

The Texas Association of School Administrators honored Eric Hale, a kindergarten and first-grade teacher from the Dallas Independent School District, as the 2021 Elementary Teacher of the Year and Anthony Lopez-Waste, a history teacher from Canutillo ISD in El Paso, as the Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Hale was chosen to represent the state as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year competition. The announcement was made during the virtual convention of the school administrators and the Texas Association of School Boards.

“My students and parents have survived a category F-3 tornado and are presently living in a pandemic. It is essential that I make sure they know I am here for them and value their educational development,” said Hale, who teaches at David G. Burnet Elementary School.

Superintendent of the Year honors went to J.A. Gonzalez of McAllen ISD. Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD won best school board.

‘Texas in my Rearview Mirror’

Texas lost one of its brightest country stars when singer-songwriter Mac Davis died at age 78 of complications from heart surgery.

Born and raised in Lubbock, Davis was known most for his country/pop songs of the 1970s, including “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me,” and for writing a number of Elvis Presley hits, including “Don’t Cry Daddy,” “In the Ghetto” and “A Little Less Conversation.” Davis also had a successful acting career, starring in his own variety show and the movie “North Dallas Forty.”

The address for the West Texas Walk of Fame is 1501 Mac Davis Lane in Lubbock, which he sang about in “Texas in my Rearview Mirror.”

“Many hearts are broken today, including my own, with the death of one of my dearest friends, Mac Davis,” country legend Dolly Parton tweeted. “We lost one of the world’s greatest writers, singers and entertainers.”

Davis’ funeral took place this week, and in keeping with the last line of “Rearview Mirror,” his wife said he will be buried in Lubbock in his jeans.

Chris Cobler is a board member and past president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He welcomes email at